Friday, 20 June 2008

Affinity Diagrams: Created With Users

What is an affinity diagram?
Affinity diagrams are created while brainstorming. In user experience it focuses on gathering and grouping user feedback. For example, when users think a certain way and in a certain direction, an affinity diagram is created to show this relationship pattern.

Why affinity? Because we seek to find relationships and groups, causing an “affinity” (attraction) towards related content.

A Pictorial Example of the Process:



When is it used?
Affinity diagrams are used during brainstorming sessions where ungrouped content is grouped together systematically.

Talking about the web, affinity diagrams are also most popularly created while analyzing complicated menu structures.

How is it created?
An affinity diagram should and must be created with your users.

Step 1. Brainstorming: Gathering ideas and content together should be the aim here. This is done to create a content dump.

Step 2. Reorganizing: Soon after creating a content dump, this content is reorganized together to make meaningful patterns. Here, things are grouped in front of users during interviews or focus group discussions. This way you can visualize groups of content in front of them.

Step 3. Elimination: Next, information is grouped and analyzed with team members. Users don’t always know what they want. They only provide direction. With project specific needs and requirements, this data can then be analyzed and patterns are created to help group content systemically.

Step 4. Grouping: From the data gathered and with the analysis completed, patterns are grouped and created. With this, the data is converted to information.

Step 5. Presentation: With the results available and the information gathered from users, this diagram is presented to clients to ensure that they have a heads up on the structure created.

Reaching Larger Heights
Affinity diagrams are used by business teams to group large amounts of data. It is also used in the field of user experience. Team members themselves brainstorm and reorganize data which may not provide user centric results.

Moving forward, we must aim to create these diagrams with the help of our users. We should take this opportunity to figure out patterns in the way our users think and behave.

Let’s practice!

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