Lowe's Cashier Personas

The Overview

June - July 2018
Completed for Lowe's UX Design Internship
Role: Researcher & Visual Designer

Disclaimer

I will not be sharing any materials online. If asked I can provide paper copies for use in person. Thanks for understanding!

The Problem

The Digital Experience and Design team at Lowe's need to be able to understand the store cashiers. Lowe's is currently working on a new and updated point of sale interface called Omnia. It's currently in two stores near Mooresville NC where Lowe's corporate offices are located. However, when the new interface is pushed out to all Lowe's stores, the team will not be able to go out and check in on the cashiers and how the interface is working. Therefore, it's important to be sure the interface is understandable and meets the cashier's expectations, as well as developing training that educates the store cashiers.

The Digital Experience and Design team has limited information about store cashiers. The team often goes out to the nearby stores to learn about the usability of specific products, but rarely asks about general motivations and goals.

The Solution

I created a set of three personas of store cashiers. Each persona has demographic information in order to humanize them. Their daily technology use is explicitly stated in order to give context for their comfort with technology and their familiarity with touch screen technologies. There are three variable personality traits displayed on scales. This includes;

Each persona has three frustrations, specifically related to the use of Omnia and Genesis (the old point of sale system). These allow the design team to understand what is important for store cashiers and what isn't working right now.

The personas all have both work and life goals, but the number varies between personas. Each persona also has a main motivation, shown in the middle of the donut chart. The additional two motivations support the main motivation.

Finally, there is a suggestions section that include suggestions for how to best design, develop, train, and rollout the system for these individuals. I wanted to include actionable items for the teams that will be working with these personas.

The Process

Over 9 weeks I wrote an official proposal and script, conducted secondary and primary research, developed the personas, designed the visual personas, and presented to the Digital Experience and Design team.

Research Proposal & Script

I started the first week by writing a research proposal. This included a statement about what the purpose of conducting this research was, a general overview of what topics I'd like to ask about, what type of participants I'm looking to recruit, the overall timeline, how and where I would conduct the research, what information or data I was collecting, and how that data would be analyzed and reported.

I also wrote a research script during the first week. This included an introduction, questions, and follow up questions. The script focused on different areas such as the store cashiers experience with Lowe's, their thoughts on Genesis, and their thoughts on Omnia.

Secondary Research

Both the script and proposal changed as I conducted secondary research by looking at other personas and talking to other researchers and designers at Lowe's. When looking at other personas, both within Lowe's and outside of Lowe's, I focused on what information they displayed and how effective it was. I then used those examples to help decide what information I wanted to display in my personas.

One set of personas that was key in helping me determine what information was useful were a set of three, done by Clarissa Ishak. These were particularly helpful because the people she was focusing on were volunteers and had "work". This is important because most other personas are about the users of an app or a service or a website, and how to get them to use said product. I took a lot of inspiration from Clarissa's personas and added questions that would help me learn about things she called out, like motivations.

Primary Research

I conducted one on one interviews in context, at the cash registers. I asked the cashiers questions in between customers, as they were working at the time. I conducted semi structured interviews. This meant I had a list of questions that I wanted to ask, but I allowed myself to ask follow up questions if needed, and to pursue other topics that came up that I didn't expect. I wanted these interviews to feel more like a conversation and less like an interview because I wanted the participants to open up and be honest about their thoughts. I recorded audio so I could focus on talking to the participants rather than taking notes, and because I didn't want them to feel as though I was analyzing what they were saying in the moment.

I conducted nine one on one interviews with store cashiers, including multiple floaters and one pro services cashier. These interviews took place at stores in North Carolina, which is where the corporate headquarters are located. The average time that a cashier had been at Lowe's was 5 years, with the low being 3 months and the high being 15 years. Four participants were part time employees and five participants worked full time.

After I completed a set of interviews, I would listen back to the audio recordings and take notes in an excel spreadsheet. I would write down a quote if I thought it was impactful. Otherwise, I tended to write down the gist of what the participant said because the exact words they used was not particularly important.

**I'm choosing to exclude the interview notes for the participants privacy. There is identifying information and some participants disclosed information in the understanding that it would be kept private.

The Development

I decided early on that I wanted to use a previous framework I had used (emote's personas) to develop and back up my personas.

The framework contains three columns. The first column contains the personas characteristic, the second column states what or who supports the characteristic decision, and the third column goes more in depth about why the second column supports the characteristic decision. In this case, each persona had 9 different categories. These included

While I was interviewing participants, and as I was working on transcribing my interview notes, I noticed three distinct groups of people, in terms of their opinions on Omnia and Genesis, as well as their motivations and goals. I used these distinct groups to determine how my personas would differ from each other.

I started fleshing out one of the personas after I completed the first three interviews. After finishing the next six interviews, I tweaked the persona that I had started developing because I found inconsistencies in the relationship between their system preference and their general motivations and goals.

I developed the next two personas using the other two participant groups that I had established. Even through the design phase, I would come back to these outlines and change aspects about the personas to create a stronger narrative, or to correct something that felt off about them.

The Design

I started my design by hand sketching the layout I wanted my personas to have. I then created a "wireframe" of my layout in adobe illustrator before I created any of my visuals. I then went through and hand sketched what I wanted my icons to look like, and created those in adobe illustrator. I used google images a lot to look at what others created for similar concepts. For example, I'm sure if you looked up "touchscreen icon" or "training icon" you would find similar images. Some icon concepts I developed myself, like the speech bubble with the smiley face.

I looked at the personas I found in my secondary research to determine how I wanted to display my information. This initial layout changed as I received feedback from other designers and UX researchers. I changed the colors, and the layout multiple times before I was happy with the information flow and how it looked overall.

hand sketched layout outline

The Presentation

My presentation went through my entire process. It's almost exactly what you've read above with more focus on the research analysis and more visuals. I had a total of three presentations.

I presented to my manager, the Director of UX, and the VP of Product Management. After completing this initial presentation, I presented to the UX team, Product managers, and Project managers that were associated with Omnia. Finally, I presented to IT which included developers and tech leads.

Reflection

I'm proud of what I've been able to accomplish at a fortune 40 company in just one summer. From what I can tell, others find that my personas are compelling and represent our actual users. So much so that the Director of UX suggested showing this to the rest of the team on Omnia, and then one of the Product Managers in that presentation suggested showing it to our IT partners.

One issue that I ran into was that I had initially planned to conduct interviews around 4th of July weekend which is one of the busiest times of the year for the stores and I wasn't allowed to go into the stores for research during those times. I had to quickly jump into interviews in order to avoid those dates. This resulted in less interviews than I would have liked. I was hoping for 10-15 and completed 9.

Another issue I ran into was that I wasn't able to interview a very diverse group of people in terms of ethnicity and race, as well as age. I interviewed one person under 30, and no people of color. I believe this was partially due to the location I was interviewing in. A subset to this issue was that I did not have my own transportation because I flew to NC from WA. This meant that I relied on others, like my manager, to provide me with rides which further limited the store locations we were able to visit.

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