Who this lab is for

What you'll create

In this lab, you're going to set up the Sensing phase of your project:

What you'll learn

What you'll need

This section explains the essential concepts that you need to know before starting this lab. Further concepts will be introduced when you encounter them for the first time during the lab.

What's Sensing?

Sensing is the second phase of the NEXT process. During Sensing you will research your Challenge through the lens of the users to uncover different and new perspectives.

You will use the new understanding to create a better version of your Challenge to guide you while creating your Solution.

What's a User Segment?

The NEXT process focuses innovation around the users. Users are therefore at the center of the NEXT app. Yet, it's impossible to research the needs of every single user and design a product tailored to them. Users with similar behaviors, goals and pains are therefore grouped into a User Segment.

Example: when researching how to help office employees to snack more healthy, one could define two User Segments: employees who have lunch in the office and employees who eat out. All employees within each segment are expected to have similar goals and pains, e.g. for in-office eaters price is likely a big concern whereas outside eaters might be more troubled about carrying snacks to the office.

What's a Persona?

User Segments tend to be quite technical like "18-25y. Low income". It's often hard to put yourself in their shoes and to come up with good solution. Personas overcome this.

A Persona is a prototypical fictional user who represents one User Segment. For example, "John (19y), intern, loves soccer & hanging out with friends" might be the prototypical "in-office eater". Picturing John, it's much easier to have a quick intuition if e.g. a "snack club" could be a good solution - compared to judging the same for the Customer Segment "18-25y. Low income".

During Sensing, you will research your Personas with tasks like User Interviews. In the end, you will have an in-depth understanding of your Personas and their behaviors, goals, and pains.

In summary: A User Segment groups all users with similar behaviors and goals/pains. A Persona is a colorful representation of a User Segment, which makes it easier to put oneself in their shoes.

How many Personas should I research?

Teams typically focus on 1-2 Personas during Sensing. Assuming you have limited time, it's more helpful to gain a deep understanding of 1-2 Personas than to have a superficial understanding of 5-10 Personas.

Nevertheless, it's advised to create all the Personas in NEXT that are relevant for your Challenge. This helps to get a better understanding of the full context of your Challenge, and helps you document the Personas on which you decided not to focus.

Create Personas

Follow these steps:

  1. Open your project in NEXT
  1. Ensure you're in the Sensing phase in the timeline (you might have to mark the Briefing phase as complete first, or click on "Sensing" and click "Mark as current phase")
  2. Click one of the Persona placeholder cards

  1. Enter the name and a description (see the hint in the dialog), and click the [Create] button

  1. Repeat steps 1-4 to create all your Personas

Add photo to Persona

Adding a photo allows you to easier recognize Personas whenever they are referenced in the app.

Follow these steps to add a photo:

  1. Go to the Personas overview page
  2. Open a Persona by click on its card
  3. Click on "Surprise me" on the photo placeholder (big black circle)
  4. Select one of the suggested photos. Tip: you can change the search term to get different suggestions
  5. Click the [Select] button

How to research a Persona?

The key to user-focused innovation is first hand input from your users. Sensing therefore comes with many tasks to go out to interview, observe, and empathize with your users. To round things up, there is also some desk research. Yet, the starting point and focus is to "get out of the building" and interact with real users instead of reading about the users from the desk.

Schedule User Interviews

Aim for at least 5 User Interviews with different users from each user segment to build a diverse view on your Persona (it's not uncommon for teams to do 20+ User Interviews).

To schedule a User Interview, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Persona on which you want to focus first
  2. Open the step "Get a first impression"
  3. Create a User Interview
  4. Click on the created User Interview task to open it

  1. Open the task instructions by clicking on "Learn more" and read in particular "Instructions > BEFORE"
  2. Close the task instructions
  3. Click on the title of the User Interview ("User Interview with ...") and enter the name of the interviewee (e.g. "User Interview with John")
  4. Click the "Set date" button to set the time when the interview will take place
  5. Decide who will perform the interviews and add them as participants
  6. Note: once you have created your interview script, you can upload it via "Attach a file"

Schedule other tasks

User Interviews are the starting point to getting to know your users. Yet, be aware that users often don't know about their pains or wants. Famously, Henry Ford said: "If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses."

NEXT provides many other tasks to uncover those hidden needs by researching your users from different angles.

To schedule other tasks:

  1. Open the step "Get a first impression"
  2. Click the question mark on the "Wild Safari" button to read the task description

  1. If applicable to your situation, add 1-2 Wild Safaris
  2. Close the step dialog
  3. Open the step "Take a closer look at your users"
  4. Read the descriptions of the tasks in this step and add the tasks that are relevant to your context
  5. Do the same for the card "Take a step back for context"

What's a Finding?

NEXT aims to minimize the administrative overhead of doing user research. Therefore, the app lets you capture what you've learned in a structure that allows to easily build on your learnings and use it as data points in the system. The way "Findings" during the Sensing phase are captured in NEXT is in line with best-practice methodologies. In short, in the Sensing phase we capture findings in terms of users' "Goals", "Pains", "Insights" and "Behaviors".

Why nurturing Findings?

A Persona represents many users in the same User Segment. This means that you need to weed out the specifics of individual users and converge on the commonalities to build your Persona.

Example: Your first User Interview with John, the "in-office eater" reveals that John is an intern and that he has little time for lunch because he has to run to college in the afternoon. During further interviews with other "in-office eaters", you discover that most "in-office eaters" are interns whereas the time pressure is specific to John. Based on that, your Persona should be an intern but time pressure should be dropped from the Persona, as this result is not generalizable.

Execute User Interview [dry run]

Follow these steps to execute the User Interview:

  1. Open the step "Get a first impression" and open the "User Interview" task
  2. Click on the results card ("Done with this User Interview? ...")

  1. Read through the description of the different Finding types (Goals, Pains, etc)
  2. Enter two pains and one goal
  3. Close the dialog
  4. Note that your new findings are directly visible in the Findings lister of your Persona
  5. Note that each findings states in which task they were discovered ("Posted on ... via User Interview with John")

Merge [dry run]

Merging is a key technique to nurture findings. You merge duplicate findings from different tasks (e.g. "is an intern") or merge detailed findings into larger concepts (e.g. "is a 2 month intern" and "is a 6 months intern" into "is an intern").

To merge two Findings:

  1. Click the checkboxes for the two entered pains
  2. Click the [Merge] button

  1. Merge the texts of the two pains into one text and click "Save"

  1. Note that the merged Finding still shows the "User Interview with John" as its source. If you were to merge Findings from different tasks, all tasks would be stated as source.

What's a Creative Question?

The deliverable of Sensing is a refined version of the initial Challenge. This refined version is called "Creative Question" and will guide you through the upcoming Visioning phase, during which you will ideate on this question.

The Creative Question follows a standardized format that covers 3 aspects:

Example: "How might we help Sue [Persona] to eat more healthy [Problem], given that she is short on money [Challenging]?"

Define Creative Question [dry run]

NEXT comes with a task that helps you to create your Creative Question after you have investigated your users in detail:

  1. Open step "Converge into a Creative Question"
  2. Create a "Define Creative Question" task
  3. Click on the result card "No Creative Question yet..."
  4. Follow the steps in the Creative Question builder

  1. Rephrase your Creative Question to make it sound "natural"
  2. Click [Save] button
  3. Close the dialog
  4. Note that your Creative Question is now shown as a card on the Persona page

  1. Click the Creative Question card to edit it

Sensing is all about going out and interacting with real users. Hence, most of the fake data generated during this Lab should be deleted - we don't want your project to be polluted!

In particular:

Congratulations, you've successfully created your first Persona and executed tasks that you need to complete to gain a better understanding of your users. You can now get started in the real world with the Sensing phase!

Bonus: You also know how to execute all future phases as they follow the same structure.

Enjoy the ride!

PS: Still something unclear? NEXT Support is always there to help.