UWV is the organization responsible for supplying social security payments in the Netherlands. Currently UWV is working on a redesign of their current website (www.uwv.nl, see Figure 1), including a personal environment for their clients.
Assignment: Develop personas for the new UWV website
At the start of this redesign process UWV realized it was necessary to create a deep understanding of the needs and wishes of their various client groups to be able to develop a truly relevant new website. Hence, UWV asked User Intelligence to deliver rich data on their user groups by way of personas.
Method: Persona development
Personas are detailed descriptions of fictive characters based on data from real users (see Figure 2 for an impression of the ‘short’ version of a persona). The advantage of using personas during development is that developers are forced to explicitly state assumptions about users, improving the communication during product development. In addition, the use of personas create engagement and empathy with the end user, making the choices during development more focused on creating an optimal user experience.
In order to deliver truly useful personas it is essential to carry out user research. User Intelligence conducted 30 interviews with participants from various client groups of UWV (having different social benefit plans, e.g. WW, WAO, WAJONG). The interviews covered subjects such as their background situation, attitude and behavior towards UWV and needs and wishes regarding the website. Subsequently, we searched for distinctive differences between user groups within the large amount of research data. This was ultimately the basis for the development of personas.
The real challenge of persona development is not the creation of the actual personas, but conveying the richness of research data and transferring the ownership of the personas. Therefore we conducted 7 workshops with communication advisors and editors of UWV. During these sessions, results were shared, personas were introduced and possible new directions for the website were identified.
Result: New view on client communication
Qualitative research provided the insight that attitude and behavior regarding UWV is strongly related to whether people are still able and/or willing to work (see Figure 3). Currently, the communication of UWV mainly focuses on people that are willing and able to work. As a result, people that are not able or willing to work, had gotten a little off the chart. Based on these findings, personas were developed for each social benefit plan.
These personas forced UWV to think about their communication towards all client groups, and they came to realize that their website is in need for more emotion and empathy, and for more possibilities for clients to share their experiences with each other.
The development of personas by User Intelligence meant a turnaround in the way UWV thinks about communication with her clients. But, UWV has solid confidence about the impact of their new website, which is due end of 2011. Of course, subsequent usability tests will have to proof whether all needs and wishes are truly covered by the new website.
What can personas do for you?
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