Adopting situational vocabulary

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Demographical terms don't work within a process-oriented design paradigm. It doesn't matter how tall a user is, or how old they are, or how they take their coffee. The focus in Path Design is on situational characteristics rather than demographical ones.

To adopt a situation-based vocabulary, focus on:

  • The user's timeline:Β the specific times at which users progress along the path between starting point and resulting point. This includes asking questions like: "When does our product become relevant for people?" "What is the sequence of actions that bring about the resulting situation?" "What do users need to have in order to succeed at x point in time? When do we provide them with those "must-haves"?"
  • The forces that move people along the timeline:Β the external circumstances that directly cause people to seek out and take action towards the resulting situation. For example, hunger is a forcing function that causes someone to open up a food delivery app.

Here's an example of the shift in action: Imagine Samuel has a doctor's appointment but doesn't remember what time the appointment was for.

Samuel's demographical terms:Β 6ft, between the age of 30 - 45, American, and so on.

Samuel's situational terms:Β appointment status: booked, location: home, can't remember appointment time (forcing function) logged in on the day of the appointment, x hours before the appointment and so on.

The situational terms inform what information our app needs to present to Samuel much better than the demographical terms. In fact, the demographical terms (the immutable characteristics thatΒ don't change from situation to situation) say nothing about how we can help him get to a resulting point he cares about: a successful diagnosis.