Typologies

What it is

Typologies are frameworks that describe different types of users at a high-level. Typologies are based on user experience research – what users think, do and use.

  • Think – their points of pain, delight, expectations, motivations.
  • Do – who are they, what roles they play, how they play these roles.
  • Use – tools, technology, interactions.

Typologies and personas are closely aligned. The typology provides user experience information at an overview level. Personas take that information and bring the typologies to life with scenarios and storytelling.

Why it’s useful

Typologies are a useful way of understanding and designing for real user experience. Along with personas, typologies are a way of exploring the complexity of real lives.

Typologies are also a way of taking large amounts of user information and making it meaningful for the business.

When to do it

Use typologies during the understand phase, when you’re gathering information from customer insight methods e.g. ethnography, in-depth interviews, intercept interviews and focus groups.

How to do it

During insight and evidence gathering and analysis, capture what designers saw and heard, and to draw out emerging:

  • similarities or differences
  • surprises or confirmations
  • contradictions or workarounds
  • patterns or themes.

The format of your typologies may vary. A format you might like to adapt is:

  • Who the user is in relation to the business need
  • What they do
  • Their expectations
  • Points of delight
  • Pain points (barriers, challenges)
  • What would be useful for them (this is where you can capture and refine design parameters based on user needs).

Capture the information on a single page.