• Harshada Desai

Storytelling: An effective way to understand consumer needs, pain points and sentiments in India

Updated: May 30



All throughout our lives, we have heard nothing but stories. Our grandparents told us stories about their past, our mothers soothed our tears with stories and when we talk to each other we share our stories.


Today storytelling is a trend. Businesses think stories will help them succeed, organizations think stories will strengthen them and social organizations think stories will gather support for advocacy and campaigns.


However, if we want to transform society we must learn to write new kinds of stories, ones that talk about the kind of world we want to create. But more importantly, we must learn to listen. I like to believe stories are a way of leading us back to us, when we listen intently we find a part of ourselves in it.


Everyone has a story, some write about it, some talk about it but most people keep it confined within their hearts.

What stories can do for a research project:

  • Build empathy. When a designer creates a persona, they are crafting the lens through which they will see the world. With those glasses on, it is possible to gain a perspective similar to the users. From this vantage point, when a designer makes a decision, they do so having internalized the persona’s goals, needs and wants.


  • Develop focus. Personas help us to define who the software is being created for and who not to focus on. Having a clear target is important. For projects with more than one user type, a list of personas will help you to prioritize which users are more important than others. Simply defining who your users make it more apparent that you can’t design for everyone, or at least not for everyone at once — or else you risk designing for no one. This will help you to avoid the “elastic user,” which is one body that morphs as the designer’s perspective changes.


  • Communicate and form a consensus. More often than not, designers work on multidisciplinary teams with people with vastly different expertise, knowledge, experience and perspectives. As a deliverable, the personas document helps to communicate research findings to people who were not able to be a part of the interviews with users. Establishing a medium for shared knowledge brings all members of a team on the same page. When all members share the same understanding of their users, then building consensus on important issues becomes that much easier as well.


  • Make and defend decisions. Just as personas help to prioritize who to design for, they also help to determine what to design for them. When you see the world from your user’s perspective, then determining what is useful and what is an edge case becomes a lot easier. When a design choice is brought into question, defending it based on real data and research on users (as represented by a persona) is the best way to show others the logical and user-focused reasoning behind the decision.


  • Measure effectiveness. Personas can be stand-in proxies for users when the budget or time does not allow for an iterative process. Various implementations of a design can be “tested” by pairing a persona with a scenario, similar to how we test designs with real users. If someone who is play-acting a persona cannot figure out how to use a feature or gets frustrated, then the users they represent will probably have a difficult time as well.


The real question is how can researchers can capture real stories? To help you with that we have created a free toolkit with three different templates that can help you capture the real stories of your consumers. You can find the toolkit here. This is our most successful method for data collection method when it comes to working with older generation Indians and children.


Grab your own copy of the templates we use to gain valuable insights into how our clients can better serve their consumers.


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