The final season has done a bit of a Sopranos and split opinion, but whether you loved it or hated it, there's probably another binge watch in your future! I’ve recently started to re-watch all the episodes from season 1. Death scenes, destruction, dragons, politics & prophecies, GoT has a lot to teach us about how to approach a project & succeed as a UX designer. Here are some top takeaways...
SPOILER ALERT (though not for the final season)!!!
1. Too many prince/princesses
The red priestesses have a prophecy about Azor Ahai, a Prince/Princess That Was Promised, who is destined to “lead the people against a darkness” but they disagree about who this person is – Stannis Baratheon, Jon Snow, or the mother of dragons herself Daenarys Targaryen?
Knowing your audience is critical to success of any project, and breaking that audience down into personas you can help your wider team understand big data commonalities in a much friendlier way. But unlike the red priestesses we don’t want to put all our trust in just 1 persona to the exclusion of all others: it’s also important to know who your secondary or even tertiary personas are, the balance of importance between them, and their conflicting needs, to have the best advantage against a poorly developed product. Everyone has a part to play, some are just more important than others.
2. Don't just listen to your advocates
All the way back in season 2 Melisandre told Renly he should kneel before Stannis, because he is the "lord's chosen one, born amidst salt and smoke."
To which Renly quipped: "Born amidst salt and smoke? Is he a ham?"
Melisandre may roll her eyes at Renly, but as UX testers it’s important to listen to people who aren’t your fans as well as your trusted user base; this will save you from making products that don’t scale and can’t be marketed effectively to new audiences. You need to be actively attracting Renlys to your product and not just pandering to your Stannises, who are far more sticky.
3. Don't get stuck down a doomed path
In season 2 Melisandre wants Stannis to be the Prince That Was Promised so badly that she uses trickery to light up Stannis’s sword, thus “fulfilling” the prophecy that Azor Ahai will pull a burning sword from a fire. While this event is so clearly contrived, she continues to believe that Stannis is Azor Ahai right up until the moment she realizes he is doomed, when she abandons him right before the battle of Winterfell. But we can't always abandon our doomed products in the same way.
It’s critical to keep re-evaluating your assumptions throughout the product testing and design process to ensure you are still building the right solution. If you approach your testing without preconceived ideas, leading questions or internal bias you can more clearly see the problems your users face, which in turn will help you find the right solutions. As Melisandre herself later admits – “prophecies are dangerous things”, treat them with caution and assume nothing.
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