How did this experience help you build empathy with prospective users?
This exercise helped me to understand that there are underlying motivations shared by many users. Despite the four subjects being very different people in very different scenarios, there were themes around time management, leisure, family, personal development and life experience that were consistent across all of them, themes that I also identified in myself as the process unfolded.
How did the clustering of information help you to understand user needs?
Trying to analyse the user needs from the many individual pieces of information from our respective users would have been way too complicated and problematic. Clustering the information helped to paint a really simple picture of these user needs. I was surprised at how easily we were able to group these needs and how few clusters there actually were – around 7 or 8 – I expected there would be quite a few more.
What was difficult or challenging with the technique? How would you do it better next time?
Overall I actually found the technique surprisingly fluid, particularly given the time constraint, which says a lot for its efficacy. The greatest challenge I guess was defining the clusters. But once they were defined the various pieces of the puzzle (the user information) fell into place with relative ease. There were, however, a few miscellaneous pieces that didn’t seem to fit anywhere and some that had a somewhat tenuous connection to defined clusters, so next time I would probably identify a limited number of top line pieces of data for each interview subject (say 10) to help define the clusters, then review the interviews again to identify any further information that either reaffirms or broadens the cluster definitions.