Many stories in user experience

I just watched this TED talk, “Chimamanda Adichie: The danger of a single story.”

Please, take the 18 minutes to watch it, then continue to read.

Watching this talk brought to mind two thoughts related to user experience work.

First, in a recent edition of Interactions magazine there is an article “Stories that inspire action” by Gary Hirsch and Brad Robertson, that has planted the desire in me to uncover the stories of the company I work for, Covenant Eyes. There are so many ideas we have of ourselves, set by the expectations of management, employees, and so forth. But there are also stories of our customers, and by telling many of these stories, I suspect we will hear some stark contrasts that will cause us to reckon with ourselves.

Have we stereotyped our corporate self?

The second thought is in regards to personas. At Covenant Eyes, my colleague Jackie has taken the lead on creating a set of personas that we can use during our design and development work. This is a first for us. This week as we were reviewing the current set of about 16 personas, we were working on writing in various scenarios for each persona. I think the point of each scenario is to enrich the story of that persona.

But perhaps more important is that across the full set of personas, however large it may get, that we have properly balanced the stories that are represented by each persona. I think, at its root, that is part of why personas are valuable in the first place. To challenge the stereotype, the single story, that we might have in development about our “user.” These personas will be valuable if they can help us tell the many stories of our customers and users.

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