Meet Greg. A ‘real life’ Facebook persona

Greg Newgrown, the persona, is on Facebook.

Greg actually yields from a target market category called ‘the Newly Growns – just grown up, in his 30’s, wife and maybe kids’.

In a short period of time, where true persona primary research and creation weren’t an option, my lovely planner friend Jelena and I created Greg to articulate to our client not what Greg’s demographics were, but draw attention to his loves, his hates and to demonstrate how Greg may behave in the social space.

The Facebook behavioural ASUs were obviously a bonus:)

So here he is. Meet Greg.

He has been quiet for a while now, but that’s only because he did his job so well.



Jelena worked her hard data magic from TGI, Nelson and other secondary sources. I then built Greg based on those findings for profiling but supplemented the behavioural, attitudinal and emotional attributes from a face-to-face focus group that Jo, was able to conduct.



I continued to ‘like’ and comment on the stuff and brands that Greg likes and created activity and events that reflects his life stage and passions and events.


Obviously, I wanted to go the whole hog and get all Nat Tate on Greg’s ass – Twitter, Google+, who knows where Greg could have gone! but I didn’t because poor Eugene who let us use his pics, was feeling a little schizophrenic.

Thanks for the short loan of your alter-images Eugene, we gave Greg life.


Social social: Pinterest, Orkut and Lego ReBrick

1. Pinterest

3.3 million user, 70% female, here’s 5 ways to use Pinterest for brands – lifestyle promotion, focus groups, crowd sourcing, contests and inspiration

2. Orkut

Facebook is now the number one social network in Brazil with 36.1 million users. Launched in 2004, Orkut was Brazil’s number one social network until last year in December 2011, Facebook finally overtook after being in 3rd place in 2010.

3. Re-Brick

Always wanted to show off your amazing lego creations? Well now you can, Lego has just launched ReBrick – Lego’s own comminuty and sharing space. Aimed at 13+, it aggregates and pulls in other social network content including Flickr and Twitter. 

It’s back, it’s mobile, it’s Shopper Marketing!

Following the success of its US Transaction App (26 million transactions on iOS, BlackBerry and Android) Starbucks has lauched it in the UK.

It has also integrated it’s loyalty programmes and entertained consumers through AR and free itune downloads, there’s no doubt, Starbucks is getting it’s mobile on.

Wireless contactless data exchange technology such as Near Field Communication (NFC) coupled with the mobility and access that the smart phone so obviously affords, means that mobile payments and mobile shopping are what the consumer wants.

Ogilvy Action have created a couple of a nice pieces on Shopper Marketing by resuscitating the decade plus concept with mobile:

1. A really nice Day in the Life of John and Sarah who are digital shoppers

2. Mobilising the path to purchase and the new shopper journey

Lets all join the trend predictors who have been hailing mobile payments and shopping for a while now and the innovators and leaders like e-bay who are well and truly throwing themselves into it.

How to embed IA/UX with a party of one

“We’ve never had a UX person before. You’re the first permanent UX person here. What will you do? How will you do it? There’s only one of you.”

Oh shit? How do I bridge the gap between expectation and optimal practise? There are people involved. With people comes expectation and expectation management.

Having been in this new permanent person a few times, I always try to do my job, on the job. What’s she on about? Well, IA/UX – it’s all about the stakeholder and user and so, when I come into a new place (whether it’s had IA/UX or not) I always conduct 1:1 stakeholder/user (in this case the end is both) interviews across all departments to understand the situation and history, and their motivations, expectations and needs.

Having done this a few times, I’ve seen some similarities in what the end users understand to be IA/UX, the desire for formal processes (not always the solution mind!), their ways of working and immediate needs that need plugging and loving.

Here are my ‘in common’ observations and a culmination of 10 recommendations that need to happen to ensure quality IA, UX, product, service and work:

1. Identify production vs strategic projects

2. Put the original client brief on the table and get your experts (aka resources) input

3. Create amazing creative briefs by Planning and Client Services working together

4. Employ a true UCD approach by having pen portraits/personas attached to every brief

5. Identify and come up with a smart project approach and which UX/IA tools are to be employed (they can flex and change) with the PMs, the project team and Client Services

6. Support IA/UX mentoring and doing via the overall project approach and resourcing if you are the only IA/UX person

7. Put the users first (UCD) by usability testing – 1 day repeat corridor testing  as a bare minimum – as part and parcel of projects

8. Integrate tracking into projects at the requirements stage (vital at wireframe stage) and create tracking requirements and specification

9. Enforce collaborative and iterative wireframing as part and parcel of project plans

10. Ensure you never start a project without understanding the business objectives and KPIs

What should the IA/UX function look like?

Before we began to dissect the thing, we all needed to have a shared and common understanding of IA/UX, especially since the term gets used interchangeably.

Given how the craft has morphed over time in terms of label, role, skill and understanding and also given how our own industry wrestles over it’s definition, this would have been difficult had I not been such a firm believer (aka stubborn) that everyone is responsible for UX. IA deliverables and activities have become forms of UX deliverables and activities (this of course excludes the ‘generalist’ UX roles, where the job role seems to advertise for a one-man band).

It is always a challenge to address the widespread misconception that if you ‘do IA you produce wireframes’ which is perhaps best dealt with by explaining what a good wireframe is. Explain what a good wireframe tells you, what it shows and how it works as part of a collaborative process. Also explain how wireframing isn’t just knowing how to use Axure.

Wireframes are an end point deliverable. A result of working out the logic whilst keeping the creative concept in tact. Wireframes articulate the design of user behaviour and psychology, functionality and content, timeliness and relevance, validation and error handling, messaging, information and interaction priority, the nature of copy and instruction. Wireframes tell you how we can enable the user to do what we would hope they would so that we may meet our business objectives.

The wireframes are the end-result of an immerse, thorough and ‘what if’ thought and activity process.



Tactical vs Strategic IA/UX

There is a difference between production work where a PM or CS orchestrates ‘resources’ to get a usually routine, job done versus putting the client brief on the table and getting experts to come up with the best solution. This is a hard thing to do – not because it doesn’t make sense business-wise but because it requires a fundamental mind and perceived power shift – and to make it even more challenging, it needs to come from the top-down.

So what I do is work from the bottom-up. No one can argue with the numbers, so demonstrate ROI by a. increasing the efficiency and efficacy of projects and b. by helping meet KPIs through usability and experience design.

To conduct true strategic UCD, I advocate that every creative brief accompanied by a pen portrait (usually built on secondary quantitative research) or persona (built on primary qualitative research).

The little boxes in the corner on the sketches from hereon in,  show not only how difficult/hard the suggestions may be to implement but also the importance of implementing them, to the agency.



Different projects and briefs need different types of IA/UX

There isn’t a one-size fits all approach to servicing a project or brief with the necessary IA/UX attention it deserves. Each should be individually assessed in the context of time, budget, requirements and resource. The activities/deliverables chosen from the IA/UX tool box will also form the back bone of the overall project approach.



Usability testing as part of projects

Usability testing is not UAT or user testing. Usability testing looks at the non-functional, behavioural and psychological actions of a user, which is often unexpected whereas the latter looks at the functional behaviour of the system and whether it is behaving as it ought to.

Usability testing is always the first to go, most neglected and wrongly considered luxury on every project I have come across. Ironically, usability testing is the thing that makes or breaks a system – it is the difference between users using, understanding and enjoying the system – a positive UX and the users walking away with a negative experience.

At the very least, conduct corridor tests with a minimum of 5 users who approximate the target user (not always possible) but at least you’ll uncover fundamental usability, interaction, copy and messaging issues.

This doesn’t have to take long or be arduous. Four hours should cover 5 x 1:1 usability testing with findings & recommendations. Surely that’s not bad ROI for the bigger picture?



Create tracking specs to understand and measure success reflective of KPIs

There is no point implementing tracking tags if you’re not going to do anything with them. That’s not tracking. They need to be monitored, reported, evaluated and optimised on in order to be of value to the agency and importantly to the client who has to justify spend and CPA. Oh and please don’t forget to budget for the time and effort it takes to action any optimisation.




Recession breads the all-inclusive

Some people baulk at the idea of an all inclusive, I however, am not adverse to having everything sorted for me in an wisely chosen all-in, especially when money is a bit tight

And so I hail the First Choice TV ad which makes me want to absorb all that amazing sunshiny positivity and feel good tune to experience the good feeling that our man clearly is,

and the Thompson’s TV ad which makes me want to be on holiday with the ones I love all because of our young philosopher who helps us understand what life is about.

Both, I enjoy watching and with both I find myself thinking, again, why not take the hassle out of organising a holiday on the cheap and easy?, researching the potential holiday habits for this year, certainly saw that 60% of its family bookings were all-inclusive in 2011 and continue to expect the rise of the all-inclusive through the recession – 28% believe that holidays are vital to their well-being and 25% would sacrifice other treats in order to have a holiday.

Multi-generational, girly-holidays and a desire for the UK population to escape the Olympic madness with a beach holiday simply adds to the all-inclusive appeal.

And whilst us Londoner’s are trying to escape, the London tourists are also trying to escape and we’re apparently anticipating a 95% decline in leisure tourism bookings during the Olympics.

Bring on the Butlins?