Last week I worked with a young couple on their educational startup website. Through the work we’re doing together, hopefully some added insight into the business can be gained, and this in turn will clarify the right direction to take.
I thoroughly enjoyed helping them explore and imagine their potential customers, getting down and dirty with demographic descriptions (how old they are, gender, education status, professional status etc.), psycographic (their career and personal goals, self-image etc.), and how they use the web. It’s kind of weird because with startups, these questions are pretty much hypothetical. It’s an intellectual and “intuitional” exercise (sorry, I don’t believe that’s a real word… no, wait, Googling it, it is a word!).
It’s just the first stage in a four-course requirements gathering workshop we’re doing, the second of which will take place soon and will involve writing up use-cases (goals for their main personas to achieve on the site). Then we’ll work out a content plan and create wireframes / prototype (depends on how complex the site is going to be, my guess wireframes will suffice).
Elite’s made-up website persona
Anyway, the main reason I’ve decided to blog about this is that is occurred to me during the workshop, that many questions arise through this type of exercise about the business’s proposition. Is this what the customers want? is it all they want? what other things do they want that we could provide?
And then my next thought was… I really should do this for my own small business. My website www.digital-heart.co.uk was set up as an experiment, a way for me to try out WIX platform, and at the same time list all the services I could potentially provide, and start working out what my proposition is from there.
Since then I’ve done quite a lot of qualitative research, and things are slowly shaping up. But it’s not quite there yet. I need to do much more research, and continue to provide help in any shape or form to small businesses and other startups, even if I’m not sure myself exactly how to package it. This is surely the only way to see what’s the most valuable service I can give.
And… I will try to develop personas and use cases for my own website – just not sure it’s going to work, as it’s just me asking myself questions. Not necessarily a brainstorm is it?
Well if you don’t try you don’t learn.
* additional reading about creating personas – fantastic blog by Dave Chaffey on Web Design Personas, and this wonderfully informative Usability.gov website has plenty of food for those wishing to learn a few methods to improve their site’s usability.
First published July 31, 2013