Here are three research techniques you can employ in your user research: observation, surveys, and interviews. These techniques, independently or in concert, can provide you with the information you need to identify roles and context.
Field Research (Ethnography/Observation) (5:30)
Enhancing recall interviewing – you prompt the user recall the event. You say to them “Close your eyes and go back to when you had an issue with X. Paint a picture with your words. What do you see, feel, and hear? What is your state of mind?” The key for the researcher is to only prompt the user for more details around the scene the user is creating.
Guided visualization – you can guide the user through an imaginary experience using prompts. For example, I might say to the user, “You are doing data analysis and excel just crashed. You have too many rows. Tell me about this experience. Where are you? How do you feel about it? What are you going to do about it?”
Role playing – users can reprise or revisit roles while interacting with your product and brand.
Archetypes – you can ask users to identify their archetype (ex. Jungian) at different stages of the purchase journey
Rashard is the founder of Userempathy, a startup marketing research and analytics consultancy. When Rashard is not building personas and implementing web analytics on behalf of his clients, he can be found at home driving his wife nuts with Yoda-speak.