We Use Stories for Design at Peekabond by Katy Barnard
Design is a lot more than just making an app look pretty or making sure it functions properly. Actually, it is mostly about understanding people and stepping into their shoes to create something valuable for them. We use stories to help us do this.
Peekabond is used by parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, great-grandparents, sisters, brothers, close family friends… All of these people experience the app differently and have unique wants and needs. Using user-centered design strategy, we step into their worlds and look at the app from their perspective. Their worlds are the stories, which are commonly known as user personas.
What are user personas?
User personas are archetypal descriptions of users used to represent and describe a demographic. They include fictional personal details such as a photo, name, job title, age, background story, personality traits, values, belief systems and quotes. All of these details build up a persona which can help us see the world from their perspective.
How do we create personas?
Back when Peekabond was just an idea, the team set out to understand their potential users through exploratory interviews. We asked people about their current experiences with staying connected to family far away, diving into the challenges and triumphs they’ve experienced. These interviews with families all around the globe gave us insight into who our potential users were, how they acted and what they valued (in relation to remote family connection, of course). They helped us shape the stories that became our user personas. And everytime we talk to new users, we get to know that persona even better.
Why do we use personas?
User personas allow us to think from the user’s point of view. By creating a fictitious yet research-based profile, we are able to better understand what decisions they might make and infer about how they might use Peekabond. Personas give us different lenses to view the app; they push us to think outside our own biases and adopt a new perspective.
When we make design decisions at Peekabond, we consult our personas to make sure that we are meeting their wants and needs in the app. For example, one of our grandmother’s biggest worries is that her grandkids will not remember her when they see each other in person. We kept this top of mind when creating the Peekabond concept, and it informed decisions like using video as the main messaging medium so that the grandkids get to both see her face and hear her voice and can replay it again and again. Another example is when we designed our onboarding flow, we made sure to show every step to help willing but cautious users of technology like our grandmother persona feel at ease. This persona also helps us understand how to reach this user group through marketing. If we are thinking about using TikTok to promote Peekabond, we know that our grandmother persona is likely not there.
User personas help us stay on track with our users, to make sure that we are, first and foremost, making choices for them!
Why should I care?
Firstly, we wanted to give you, our users, a peek behind the scenes at what it takes to build an app. At Peekabond, we are strong believers of what’s called “building in public”. This means that we are committed to sharing our learnings with the world so that others can learn from them as well.
Secondly, we cannot do this without you! To grow in the right direction at Peekabond, we need to listen to our user’s stories and experiences to reach what’s called Product Market Fit, meaning that our product suits what our users really want. We are passionate about reaching this through user research.
If you want to help us in our process, here are a few things you can do:
- Sign up for our Facebook Group called Remote Family Club to keep in the loop of our progress. We often post questions in this group to ask our users for feedback. The group also provides inspiration and support from fellow families in your same situation.2.
- . Join a user interview. We are constantly testing our product with users and would love to interview you. We are always looking for grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles and loved ones to give feedback on our product via a short video call. You can sign up for an interview using this link.
- Join our ambassadors group. We have an intimate group of Peekabond superfans who get to test our newest features on an ongoing basis. If you want to be continuously involved in co-creating the app sign up here.
About Katy Barnard
Katy is an Amsterdam-based user researcher originally from the West Coast of the US. She is passionate about creating ethical and sustainable technology and believes in the power of user research to get there. She holds a Bachelor’s in Graphic Communication and a Master’s in Digital Design. You can usually find her taking long walks in the park, cooking big batches of soup, petting all the dogs on the street or making random crafts with friends.
Anieke Lamers, our CEO created Peakabond at the onset of Covid-19. A mobile app to help global families bond with young children remotely. Inspiring families to create playful and engaging moments with young children.
Asynchronous video connection and inspirational science-based content suggestions. Allowing families and loved ones to share small moments and build better bonds. Every play experience is designed with care and approved by child development experts. Always age appropriate. Always private and secure, never showing ads. Our intention is to build a movement that connects families across borders and over generations. To try storytelling activities at Peekabond go here.