Personas are a great way to make everyone in an organization aware of who the users are and gives me a way to be the user’s advocate in a clearly defined way.
Personas: interviews, reasearch, and submerging yourself in the lives of your target market are all great ways to create genuine personas. Keeping them straight forward, honest, and clear will help communicate the different users’ needs to the team.
User Flows, Task Analysis & Red Routes: Disecting the current action flows and walking through every step of a task brings up bottle necks and barriers. Using these tools I look to go through each step as a user and understand what the most common tasks and actions in the product are. Focusing our attention on streamlining the main actions and working out to less used/less important functions. Going through these analyses also shows what a user’s expectations of each task and whether those expectations are met or not.
Heuristic Evalution: a more professional analysis of your product, heuristics follows a set of criteria to see whether the interface passes muster, the ease of use, and the issues in usability. They include: Visibility of system status, Match between system and the real world, User control and freedom, Consistency and standards, Error prevention, Recognition rather than recall, Flexibility and efficiency of use, Aesthetic and minimalist design, Help and documentation. You can learn more here.