4 traits of User

Over the past few years, I've been conducting user research to understand the users. Although each project targeted different groups of users, they share some patterns that can be summarised into 4 traits.

1. Individuality

Not only does the distinction of users exist between personas, but every user is distinct in light of unique character, perception, behaviour and need. Therefore, although modelling users by creating personas and customer journey maps helps to efficiently consolidate and align the understanding about the users, it’s still important to emphasise that your personas ≠ your users, your user journey maps ≠ your users’ interactions. 

2. Contextuality

Without context, "user" is just a word. Context has a significant impact on a user's behaviour, perception and need. For instance, If I needed to get a ride, I normally would choose UberPool to save money as opposed to UberX. But if I had an important meeting at 9 am and I was in a rush, I would go for UberX rather than UberPool. The priority of my need changes, so does my behaviour and perception.

3. Plasticity

Users are plastic. Despite both social and physical environments mould their needs, perception and behaviour, they can be still easily shaped by product. As in the previous example, if I had received a 10% off voucher for UberX, I would choose it even if I wasn't in a rush.

4. Bounded rationality

Humans are born rational and irrational. Everyone desires to maximise utility and minimise cost, thus we are rational in the way of weighing up returns and investments when we make decisions. However, our rationality is bounded as it consumes energy and we have limited knowledge, experience and skills, we often tend to follow our gut, for things are less important or less costly in particular. Let's go back to the Uber example one more time. I would end up paying more for UberX than UberPool regardless of whether I had a 10% off voucher or not. But I still wouldn't bother calculating if the time I could save worth the money.