In this lab, you're going to set up the Sensing phase of your project:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Follow these steps:
Adding a photo allows you to easier recognize Personas whenever they are referenced in the app.
Follow these steps to add a photo:
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.
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:
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:
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.
Follow these steps to execute the User Interview:
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:
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]?"
NEXT comes with a task that helps you to create your Creative Question after you have investigated your users in detail:
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!
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.