Telling and listening just the story

User Interviews & Experience Mapping.

Natalia Rey
Mar 2, 2016 · 4 min read

In a company I was working for, the UX team was quite poorly of tools of gather some data about users. They normally conduced User testing but no more than that.

With a great effort vaguely we got some analytics, so basically the UX Team was blind to design new strategies and they performed more as interaction designers, or UI ones, defining where the buttons should go and fixing some usability problems.

One of the projects I was working on, was related to the redesign of the emails that our product sends to clients.

The product used to send out 3 types of emails:
- 1 email per month with managers information about how their team are performing (related to our application)
- 1 email per week, normal employee emails showing how well employees are using our application.
- 1 email per action made into the product.

Managers receive the three of them.

Problem (Stakeholders brought to UX Team)
Analytics were showing a very basic interaction around emails, specially with managers. Also the Customer Service department aware directors around to a duplication of unnecessary emails sent and some complaints about it.

Strategy Review
The business required a better strategy around the emails, so stakeholders decided to bring this problem to the UX team.

User Interviews with managers.
We decided to carry on some internal user research in order to find out what was the real problem around the emails.
Based on business requirements the company decided to invest time to re design managers emails first.

5 Managers.

Planning the Interviews
I was in charge to conduct Contextual Interviews with 5 managers from our company (before we launch the research with clients).

From Assumptions (Starting point)
- UI seems to be quite old.
- The information displayed is not very useful for the targeted user.
- The information is not well organized in the email: hard to find useful data, hard to avoid non important stuff, new things are quite hidden, etc.
- Cluttered emails.

The scope of this project was to understand how managers feel whenever our we send our emails.

Set of possible questions
My process in general is pretty obvious, normally I talk to stakeholders to define the objective of the research, we define what is the scope of it and then I carry on my interviews and try to do a mapping of the experience.
All good, until this project.

I had a set of questions and even a template for it in order to observe and answer all of them (as you can see in the picture below).

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When I started the interview with my first participant he told me straight away that he never read those emails.
Even having the email printed out didn’t help my interview just because he never ever read it.

Basically what happened was that all the questions related to ti, even the template was absolutely useless.

At that point, the only perspective of saving time, and trying to gather something around my participant was to remember the fact of asking for a “story telling”, something I heard a long time ago from Whitney Quesenbery, in UXLisbon 2011, attending her workshop “Storytelling for User Experience”

Lesson Learned
It doesn’t really matter all your previous studies about a topic, or how many questions and templates you have prepared if you don’t have a plan for the Storytelling.

This fantastic and simple space to ask to the person about his/her experience on the topic you are researching of will give you always the possibility to learn new things and discover a journey never imagined before.

I mapped the experiences from them in a graphic in order to show the results to stakeholders. I also reviewed the journeys individually and I sent the audio.

This experience mapping is nothing to do with my first template but still was useful enough to see that 5 from 5 managers delete the emails before even scan them.

I didn’t find out why this happens, but it was definitely the departure point to open our eyes and came up with a new plan and strategy according with: their new objectives, their journeys at work (to have a better understanding about their time) and big pain points around our emails.

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In Conclusion
We should always leave room to discover new things asking to our interviews just about their stories.

Their stories may reflect their own desires, needs and usually the pain. Stories are the main scene where a person plays tasks around your product or even before, the room where it will be fit on.

Let’s create this atmosphere to leave the person in his/her comfort zone just to talk with the natural flow of a conversation, telling and listen just a STORY.

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