There is much I enjoy about being a Producer, but one area that brings me great pleasure is the thought that we have made someone's day better. It might not always be on a grand scale, and it might even go unnoticed as a specific experience, but it will have registered with the customer on some level. If we have made it easier for someone to find the information they need without frustration, shown them the ideal selection of gifts, or saved them time when booking a meeting room, their experience will be positive.

How do we plan for these friction free interactions? We make it our business to understand the people using the system, and then design the experience around them.

As it's unfeasible to keep a crowd of users in the corner of the office to consult throughout the project we undertake research and create personas - descriptions of certain types of people who will be using the website. A useful persona focuses on the goals of a user, their attitudes, and their behaviours. To remind us that these documents act as stand ins for real people each is given a name and represented by a photograph. This enables us to make design decisions throughout the project based on real people with real objectives. At every stage we can ask questions such as 'will that instill confidence in Jane to buy that gift?' or 'does that save Mark time?'

Of course personas don't replace actual people but it's a great starting point until user testing can be undertaken. But that's a whole other topic...

By Jenny Lomax