User psychology and expectations
There are many different ways to allow you to gain a better understanding of your users. I like the Myers Briggs type indicator to explain this as it provides insight into how people communicate, what their sensitivities are and, more generally, how they function. Some text and information used below to better explain the MBTI can be found on Wikipedia with some great sources cited if you want to read more.
Gaining a thorough understanding of your users, helps you create a rounded and consistently excellent experience for all.
Quick Overview of the MBTI
There are 4 indicator sets:
- Extroversion (E) OR Introversion (I) – where your attention is focused
- Intuitive (N) OR Sensing (S) – how you process input
- Thinking (T) OR Feeling (F) – how you make decisions
- Perception (P) OR Judging (J) – how you deal with the world
You can view each indicator set as a sliding scale, and may also vary slightly based on context (e.g. work vs. home). The middle two letters (the perceiving functions N & S, and the judging functions T & F) are the ones that more closely allow us to predict user behaviour.
Key points for each are highlighted below:
|Feeler (F)||Thinker (T)|
- Intuitives are strategic, big picture thinkers and like to have as much information given to them as possible to make sense of the overall picture.
- Sensors tend to experience their way through content, input and senses to create an overall and accurate picture of what is presented to them.
Why should you care?
A very valid question – I’ve seen people who seem like polar opposites fall into consistent communication breakdowns due to simple misunderstandings or communication style. When they were made aware of each others’ Myers Briggs type indicator, they used their communication guides (provided as part of the MBTI result explanation) and now get on like a house on fire.
How does this translate to user journeys and wire-frames?
Be mindful when evaluating your user journeys that visitors to your site will not be exclusively from one of these four categories. Consider that different users may prefer search and navigation over page content. Some read every word mindfully while others skim over content looking for something eye-catching.
Wire-frames and paper testing should be done with each of these users in mind, and each user journey vetted against each of the 4 users types (in the table above). Where this gets complicated, is that while tests should validate cross-spectrum usability, altering the journey to account for all user types should not cause frustration for other user types (no decision should be made at the expense of any user type).
It’s not all about the actions
Most likely, you’re building an intranet or a public website with a large user base, so it’s impossible to catalogue all the personalities in your organisation and build something uniquely suited to them. You just have to make a best effort to give everyone an equally awesome experience. When wire-framing from your user journeys, also consider media and text to achieve greater usability:
- Descriptive video, images or illustrations (e.g.: quantitative display of large amounts of information).
- Text with encouragement for longer user journeys (e.g.: “Almost there!“).
- Set expectations on how long a process may take (e.g.: “This takes about 30 minutes to complete.“).
- For multi-step processes, provide breadcrumbs, progress bar.
As far as rabbit holes go, this one seems downright ridiculous, doesn’t it?
I’ve found the knowledge I shared in this article impressively useful when leading workshops, presentations and planning large-scale user-interfaces. Your users are at the centre of your applications, so give them an experience that makes them feel like you’ve read their minds!
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