It is a sad fact that most projects are done without a clear picture of who the users are or what their day is like. In this particular case the brief was,
Make a Storywriting tool for our staff. It will eventually be used to write for 30 different publications ranging from online general news over womens magazines to high brow newspapers.
Clearly the flow of writing articles is different across those. The type of content will probably also have a different weight. The length of articles will be different. And it's bound to evolve over the next 5 years. There also seems to be generational differences between journalists.
It would have helped a lot to have a description of the typical journalist(Persona) and a Point of View of how you write/produce stories now vs in 5 years.
My approach was to go and talk to two editors in the organisation about how they saw the role of the tool, and how their day looked.
And then we had a session as a team where we tried to pool our understanding of who/how our user was.
This is the sketch persona we came up with. I could tidy it up and make it easier to comprehend, and if you were to hang it on a wall you certainly would. But you have to start somewhere.
I've seen a common tendency to include a lot of personal details, such as has a dog, likes fast cars etc. That is not terribly relevant here unless our design will vary based on the topic(dogs/cars). Family however tends to affect your work times and focus, so that might inform some aspect around time of day or the need to predict when things will be ready.
The diagram in the corner is the work arrangement of how journalists and illustrators sit in clusters called desks. E.G. "Foreign Desk"
We collected a number of questions for further refinement. The next step was to go and talk to the journalists in different publications.
What it got us was a reminder that we weren't making the application for ourselves, and the focus was too much on technical geeking out while there was a fundamental lack of understanding around how the application would be used.