User Experience Connected Product 101: Define your users

User-centered design practices are an effective method to design products. But who exactly are the users of your connected product? Usually, there are many more users of your product than what you typically think of in a first pass. This article provides a method to systematically identify all the users you need to think about when planning your product.

Let’s suppose you are building a predictive maintenance solution for a commercial refrigerator. The product is for operations managers in restaurant chains. The value proposition is to reduce the number of service calls by half. In this example, who are the users of your predictive maintenance solution?

Potential Users:

  • chef (who controls and use the refridgerator)
  • restaurant manager (who is responsible for the restaurant)
  • director of operations (who purchases your product for many restaurants)
  • repair technician (who performs repair)
  • franchise operations (who does remote monitoring)
  • distributors (who sell your product)
  • engineering (who analyze your product data)
  • your support team(who support franchisees)

So where do you start?

First, think about all your users in three types.
Customers: Users within your customer’s organization. For connected products, there are often direct users, manager users, purchaser users and more.
Partners/Vendors: Users outside your company who help sell, install or maintain your product.
Internal: Users are people within your company including operations, engineerings, sales etc.

The number of users often increases with the complexity of your product. We find the best guide is to identify all the users who are involved in every stage of the customer lifecycle.

Continue Reading about Customer Lifecycles for connected products

User Personas

User personas define the user archetype who will interact with your product. You should define their demographics, level of experience, technical knowledge, challenges and goals. This provides a perspective with which you can analyze each requirement.

For more information about personas see:

  1. 3 Reasons to Start Designing with Personas
    Marcin Treder
    Overview of why to use personas — doubles as talking points if you are trying to describe or sell the concept to someone.
  2. DIY User Personas
    UX Lady
    How to make a persona in 3 parts: building and collecting information, layout, and elements.
  3. Predictive personas
    Personas may not always take in account the type of people who will become a user of your product — make sure yours do by making them predictive.