Top 5 Narrative Writing Tips + Ui War Room Footage (Video)

Last time we discussed the Social Media TV Experiment, we shared a few of our research team’s observations that we think will be important in the formation of our personas; if you missed that post, check it out now!

After completing 40 contextual interviews over a 4-day period, our researchers and strategists conducted what we call “war room” analysis. With data from the interviews in hand, they discussed, analyzed, argued and analyzed some more until, finally, they emerged with user types and descriptive narratives to go with them!

In a nutshell, these were the 5 steps we went through over the course of a week that led to the identification of user types for the project.

  1. Discussion of high-level observations
  2. Discussion and identification of patterns in the data collected + an understanding of outliers
  3. Plotting respondents’ patterns of behaviors to see how respondents relate to one another
  4. Clustering of respondents into ‘types’
  5. Crafting descriptive narratives around each user type

The descriptive narrative comes from a mixture of all of the respondents that cluster together, into one.  The descriptive narrative must capture readers’ attention so that the user types are easily understood and easily recalled.


User Insight’s 5 Tips on How to Draft Knock-Your-Socks-Off Descriptive Narratives:

  • Apply alliteration. Name each user type, using a descriptive adjective that captures their essence.  Choose the adjective first, then choose a name that begins with the same letter as the adjective you chose. (e.g. Traditional Tom).
  • Keep it gender neutral. Since these descriptions are a mixture of respondents and must capture a wide range of consumers, keep the copy as gender neutral as possible – a guy or gal should be able to relate (unless a type is predominantly one gender).
  • Use your interview data. You’ve collected great data during interviews with your users, so use it!  Go back  and pull direct quotes from respondents, review their facial expressions, use what you’ve got to help formulate and support your copy.  The copy should be written in the first person to capture the voice of the user type.
  • Use real photos. Stock photos just don’t work! Take the best example of one of your respondents within the user type and add it to the narrative.  Others can relate when they can put a face with the name.  If any of your contextual pictures are important to their differences, use them too.
  • Create a memorable quote. A one-liner, in conjunction with the name, really brings the user-type to life.  It should be based on one of the key markers of the user type and represent a significant difference from the other types.

What are your thoughts?  Do you have any narrative-writing tips to share?


User Insight’s “War Room” Footage.

Next week, we’ll share more about how we created the infographic for the Social TV Experiment.  And, we’ll release the user narratives and the infographic the very next week, on Friday, April 1st!