Personas: a waste of time or an insightful tool?

What are personas?

Personas are a UX tool, designated for a segment of the user experience research process that helps designers create a somewhat fictional user. What do designers do with these fictional users you ask? Well, quite plainly they are meant to navigate the gauntlet of buttons, pages, and text of a primordial product.

Personas consist entirely of personal information, skills, interests and other information that makes up a real human’s personality. You could potentially look at a persona as being a CV. But in this case, they are not applying for a job, they are simply there to help designers discover if their newly thought up product is navigable or not.

Personas can be old or young, tech-savvy or technologically challenged… however, the primary direction designers take when creating a persona is that of their target market. This aligns their fictional user’s interests and skills with the newly produced product in question.

Are personas useful?

To make a long story short… maybe.

Okay, I lied about the matter being simple, this question is purely context-specific. Some products are simple enough that they apply to a broader target market, and the product could make use of functionality that is already prevalent in countless other products.

This means that the product in question could be intuitive for most users already (let’s say it’s an e-commerce website), anyone who makes use of the internet on a regular basis has come across an e-commerce website. The process is simple enough; browse, add to cart, checkout, payment, delivery (give or take a few steps).

The process seems easy and intuitive, however, the fact that these websites are generally easy to navigate and operate does not exempt users from the toil of having to backtrack through their journey, choose different sizing options or find something they saw earlier more easily.

This is where personas come into the mix; they help us create those non-conforming users that have radically different online shopping habits. As these users fumble through the bits and bobs of the prototype website in question, they will undoubtedly come across a wall at some point.

Our job as designers is to test every possible situation and user flow through the website in order to find possible errors or redundant sections, filter through and tweak the product to its optimal level of usability. If you can see where users may get stuck in a more intuitive website scenario such as this, imagine the chaos users face when navigating completely new ground.

How does Yellow Door make use of personas?

Something Em loves doing in our team strategy sessions is combining personas with a SWOT analysis. We begin by making a list of a user’s traits; age, behaviour, job, relationship status… the works. Then we create a spider diagram, finding what strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats they may run into. This combination allows us to effectively find the channels best suited for that client’s marketing needs, and what we can do to boost their business.

These sessions – above all else – are fun! We have a time and a half as a team doing these strategy games, they leave us and our clients buzzing with excitement and hopeful about all the opportunity we can bring to the table. I would say that these persona-esque strategy sessions allow us a unique insight into what is possible to bring to the table, and what we need to watch out for along the way… discovering trends we think may work, and isolating issues before they pop up.

Should I use them or not?

Generally, as designers developing products, from UI to UX… Our goal is to be fundamentally selfless, assume nothing about a user’s capability, and just do the tedious things (cough, cough… personas), in order to understand our target market better. Even if we incrementally gain one iota of information at a time.

So yes, suck it up and make a persona… here at Yellow Door we make a fun game out of it and learn a bunch in the process, so why not own it and learn something new in the process!

Life behind the Yellow Door – the podcast

Life behind the Yellow Door – the podcast

By Dominique Sandwith

Posted on 5th June 2019

If you look back a few years, no-one was asking about your favourite podcast standing around the braai.

Fast forward to 2019 and it’s quite likely to come up! For a while, Emma and I have been trying to get our clients to set up podcasts for their businesses. We feel that a lot of them would benefit from a series of conversations that aim to inform their current customers or hook potential clients with industry-related news, anecdotes and personal stories. Not many of our clients were willing to try it for various reasons. And then we met The Stellar Effect.

Jason and Carol are very similar to us in that they are co-founders of an amazing small business – theirs producing podcasts! So, as you can imagine there is a lot of synergy (and energy) between us. We soon came to an agreement; we would trade our marketing skills for their production skills and test out our theory that all businesses should share their story through a podcast!

It’s been a fun journey, challenging at times, but an enjoyable experience. We are now two episodes in with an exciting line up of guests to feature in the pipeline.

If you missed the pilot episode, you can listen below (or search ‘Life behind the Yellow Door’ on iTunes or Stitcher). And we’re excited to launch the second episode of our series today! We hope you enjoy it and don’t forget to send us your questions for us to cover in the next episode.

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EQ vs IQ in the workplace

EQ vs IQ in the workplace

By Sarah Brownlee

Posted on 22nd May 2019

“At the end of the day, we are humans dealing with humans!” I have no idea who uttered this ingenious sentence but never were truer words spoken.

I’ve been lucky to work in a variety of different companies with a mix of different people and management styles. The one thing that has always struck me in my personal experiences, especially in the more corporate spaces, is how the value of EQ or emotional quotient is undermined. 

No doubt EQ’s ugly sister, IQ, makes us look good on paper. The endless list of our skills, capabilities, strengths and accomplishments – but that’s pretty much where it ends.

With businesses increasingly dependent on collaboration, compromise and negotiation, the importance of emotional intelligence cannot be undermined. EQ can make or break our work environment, client relationships and our ability to successfully communicate with our colleagues.

A study conducted by TalentSmart found that 90% of top performers have a high emotional intelligence, with EQ responsible for 58% of your job performance.

Behind the Yellow Door both intelligences are highly regarded. In fact, every second Friday we put aside 30 minutes as a team to take an online PQ (Positive Intelligence Quotient) Assessment. This particular test measures the percentage of time that your mind serves you as opposed to sabotages you.

The test is useful, as it is a launchpad into managing your own emotions and building on what has been identified as the 6 pillars to building a stronger emotional intelligence.

1. Self-awareness

Recognising and managing your own emotions is a key pillar in emotional intelligence. Managing and being able to adjust your emotional behaviour to a situation enables you to influence the emotions of others.

2. Empathy

Empathy is ranked second. When you’re able to decipher and recognise the feeling of others, you’re able to show that you understand where they’re coming from and in turn, gain their respect.  

3. Self-regulation

By learning to control and manage your emotions, especially your impulses, you are able to prepare yourself for emotional self-management.

4. Motivation

Emotionally intelligent people are motivated to look at a problem and find a resolution in a calm and rational way.

5. Social skills

Being able to easily talk and connect with others is a key ingredient to achieve a higher EQ. Being socially aware and engaging demonstrates that you really care about others and not just about your own personal gain.

6. Happiness

Happy people accomplish more tasks than those who are sad or depressed. It is also important to note that emotionally intelligent people have the ability to control their mood to serve their purpose, motivating them to find more solutions to problems.

As we continue the quest to a higher EQ, let us remember the wise words of Maya Angelou: “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

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An intern’s guide to fulfilling your passions in a new industry

An intern’s guide to fulfilling your passions in a new industry

By Jonny Field

Posted on 30th April 2019

We’ve all had to face the future before; people ask us those kinds of questions all the time. When thinking of what we want to do for the rest of our lives, it seems we have a selection of a few possible futures: doctor, accountant, teacher, engineer… the list goes on, but we all get the gist.

I recently graduated and am finding my footing in a new industry, figuring out how the working world – well – ‘works’, which can be a very daunting task indeed. Every step feels a little closer to solidifying a future, meanwhile the reality is that the future couldn’t be more fluid.


I want to share some of my philosophies and experiences that have led me to where I am now, entering into an industry where I have found my passions reciprocated, and can use them as a tool for building a stable yet fun future for myself.


Something I like to live by is the whole cheesy concept of “follow your dreams”. The funny thing is that in my case, I was so absorbed in my dreams from the start of life that I was oblivious to the world around me and reality in general.


I went about my school career being happiest in the arts; subjects like maths and science were interesting, but less engrossing for me. This is where I found my passion for art, design and creativity. Other influencers were things like film, photography, fashion, cookery and especially architecture. Being surrounded by beauty made me want to create more of it, seeking out stimuli that fed my passion for design.


Despite the commentary from teachers telling me I wouldn’t get far in life, friends telling me art wasn’t a real subject, and the world screaming “artists make no money” at me, I persisted. As time went on, industries popped up all around me that offered more promise for those with a creative inclination, and this is what sparked the desire to study interaction design at the Cape Town Creative Academy and gave me my work ethic.


I was always at my happiest when I was creating something, or seeing beautifully created things, so finding a job where creativity is a daily task was the goal.



Believe me, finding my passion in life wasn’t just a fluke, or inherent talent, it was a learned behaviour. Just as there were those teachers and friends who said artists aspire to nothing and remain as such, there were also those teachers and friends who fed those creative tendencies and drove me to try new things.


Once life had started in the wonderful land known as tertiary education, ideas about work and finding an industry – where our skills could be used effectively – became more and more apparent.


A powerful paradigm that we learned was that design is a powerful tool, it’s always around you but you never realise it unless you look hard. The built human environment is completely and utterly a result of design, everything you see around you that is not naturally occurring was thought up and created by someone.


It’s the sudden realisations like that that made me find my passion in design; creativity and innovation are skills that everyone never knew they had, and never knew they needed. Of course, that is a horrendous generalisation, however it drove me to want to work… more and more, until graduation finally hit, and I was free to start working in the Cape Town design industry.


And I am happy to finally be here, the daydream prone boy has grown up and realised it is a literal dream come true! (I feel like a Sim that has achieved its lifetime wish)

The YellowDoor Co-100


Now I find myself doing a digital marketing internship here at Yellow Door; being able to work on a hotchpotch of things including web development, brand strategy, social media management and corporate identity. The work is all well and good, and I am taking in so much knowledge it almost hurts my brain. But the most amazing thing is that I get to learn from people who are just as creative as me – if not even more so – and their experience in the industry I wish to find my footing in makes me even more excited to be with them!

To end off, I’d like to share a far newer philosophy that was sparked by working with my passions and seeking employment in the design industry. If ever you want to do something good for yourself, work at what makes you happy, so you find yourself in a working environment that makes you even happier.

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Being part of a great team makes copywriting better

Being part of a great team makes copywriting better

By Danielle Scheepers

Posted on 10th April 2019

Ernest Hemingway once said, ‘There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.’ Of course, we are so much more evolved now – we bleed in front of screens.

Dramatic? Granted, but only a little. Writing can be difficult, it takes a lot of focus, and creatives are not known for this trait! The challenges involved in being a digital marketing copywriter in particular include the need to churn out great work at a break neck pace.


There is one advantage that Hemingway didn’t have access to which Yellow Door has, an incredible team. Every person in the office plays a specific role in creating authentic, compelling content for our diverse clientele. What follows is insights that I have gained in my time as Yellow Door’s resident copywriter.


Not all writers are strategists, but marketing is all about strategy. The fast pace at which the digital world moves means that copy needs to hit the bullseye every time. The only way to make sure that it does so is knowing what information and direction to give the audience and which platform to use.


In order to implement this, our team gets together every Tuesday to strategise about a particular client or project and how we can improve our offering. Being part of a small team, everyone has space to share their ideas, and the client benefits from the input of a host of marketing experts with varying skills. For copywriters, this is golden, because it is an opportunity to listen, learn and gain fresh perspective and insight into how to tell the brand’s unique story.


Another notable benefit of such a tight knit agency is having direct access to the bosses. Dom and Em are both incredible in their respective roles and contribute greatly to my growth as a copywriter.


Em is our new business director, which means that her focus is always on the horizon. She shares insights and new ventures with the team constantly. Her input into brand guides and company profiles are what refine and direct the process to bring the final product together.


Dom, our managing director, directs the daily workflow. This is invaluable, as it keeps things on track. She makes certain that deadlines are achievable and provides encouragement and input into every project. Because, let’s face it, creatives need boundaries!

The YellowDoor Co-74


As I mentioned earlier, writing can be a difficult practice. Writers are very often their own worst critics. It helps to have a team of people with which you are able to commiserate and also have fun with outside of work.


As a team we have danced, celebrated, gone bowling, eaten pizza, hiked and took part in activities that aren’t at all work related. Ultimately, this is almost as important as office hours because it leads to freer thinking and more inspired creativity.


We all deliver the best we can, but there are times when deadlines are tight and things become too demanding to handle alone.


Team dynamics at Yellow Door are easy going and we have each other’s backs, pulling together to pick up slack. This gracious dynamic allows for growth and development and a better creative environment. As the resident writer, it takes the pressure off to know that we, as a team, are shoulder to shoulder in carrying the vision of the agency into the future.

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Whoever gave you confidence, you owe them a lot

Whoever gave you confidence,
you owe them a lot

By Emma Donovan

Posted on 20th March 2019

I’ll never forget my first week of work – despite having a degree from UCT and a year travelling the world under my belt, I had no idea what the real world had in store for me, and it was daunting.

I was lucky enough to be surrounded by people I admired and learnt from every day – with special mention going to Catherine Lückhoff, Janine Langheim, Vanessa Clark and Chris Botha. Each one of them gave me confidence in my ability and encouraged me to pursue my ambition.


Next up, Dom and I established Yellow Door in 2014 and developed a sound business partnership based on mutual respect and appreciation. The strength of this relationship continues to give me the confidence I need to perform my role to the best of my ability.


As part of our approach to develop both Yellow Door and our leadership skills, we get regular input from a number of mentors. Murray Kilgour has been our leadership coach and right-hand man for three years and counting; both our dads (and mums) back us 100% and more recently we’ve started tapping in to the brilliant minds and experience of Flick co-owner Garth Jemmet, eSET CEO Carey van Vlaanderen and Derrick Cape Town creative director and founder Livio Tronchin. 


Dom and I now have the opportunity to pay this gift of confidence forward and develop skills within our team, and also give advice to a couple of bright young entrepreneurs just starting out. I find it incredibly rewarding to share my knowledge and life experience, especially as I continue to learn along the way too.  


Two lovely examples are from Lindsay LLewellyn, who recently did a short internship with us: ‘Emma, thank you for spoiling me with lunch on my last day, for giving me both professional advice and life advice. Thank you for making me feel appreciated.’


And Harry Danckwerts from Moto Health, ‘Thank you so much for meeting up with me and all of the advice. I am really grateful for your time and experience! I have been looking at what we discussed and trying implement as much of it as possible into my business plan!’


So this is a really just a roundabout way to say get out there, approach someone you admire and ask them to mentor you – whether it’s formally or just a chat over lunch once a quarter; and then when you’re ready, start to pay it forward. You don’t need to be an expert to share what you know so far, and it’s amazing how much confidence you can give someone just by believing in them and helping them to realise their dream, one step at a time.

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Behind the yellow door: an intern’s view

Behind the yellow door: an intern’s view

By Yellow Door Collective

Posted on 1st March 2019

If the name Yellow Door Collective was anything to go by, I should not have been surprised to be met with an office door painted bright yellow. But I was. Why? Even though Yellow Door is a small agency and I should have been prepared for an intimate working atmosphere, I was fresh out of university with no office experience. I had a picture in my head that the corporate world was one of dull office spaces, professional attire and uninspiring small talk in the office kitchen.

On the day of my interview, I realised I was wrong. My experience at Yellow Door was to be anything but dull.

The office

The space is inviting and full of colour. The Yellow Door team work in one room together and office chats range from what we did on the weekend to ‘you look like a superhero with those arm braces, Ant’. If that wasn’t enough entertainment, the first time I heard a phone alert ringing I soon found out it was only a reminder that it was time for Dom, one of the co-founders to stretch! Well, that was pretty non-corporate if you ask me. Oh, and did I mention that there is an in-house singer?

Into the deep end

Besides learning that the business world doesn’t necessarily align with the cubicle offices you see in Suits, I was thrown into a fast-paced working pool and kindly told ‘now swim’. Yes, I performed typical intern tasks such as collecting the post and restocking the fridge with yoghurt, but I was also given the opportunity to take on real-world responsibilities.

I learned how to conduct competitor research, schedule social media updates and write blog posts that are aligned with a brand’s tone of voice. I was tasked with creating content for clients. I was even trusted in putting together marketing strategies and brand style guides. They were edited, of course, but I was a part of it.

I think that’s the essence of Yellow Door. You are part of the team no matter your position. Team members help each other and lean on each other. I was the new girl. But I was made to feel like an old friend.

If there was one suggestion I could make to Yellow Door it would be this: place a ‘welcome’ mat at your office door, because that’s how I felt from the minute I walked in to the day I waved goodbye.


By Lindsay Llewellyn

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2018 highlights reel

2018 highlights reel

By Emma Donovan

Posted on 19th December 2018

This year has been an absolute whirlwind! There have been lots of challenges, but each one has come with some form of silver lining, and I’m proud to say that we’re ending the year strong - as an agency, as a team and in terms of our vision for the year ahead.

Here are a few of our highlights from 2018:


What I love is that each one is different, yet they all speak to the fact that we have been inspired, challenged and developed new skills. We have supported each other and become a real family – one that Dom and I are proud to lead and continue to learn from.


So, what does 2019 have in store for Yellow Door? We don’t quite know yet to be honest… but what I can tell you is that we:

– are about to launch our new and improved website

– plan to facilitate more strategic workshops (for current clients as well as new ones – pop me an email to find out more:

– will continue to collaborate with like-minded agencies and creatives that complement our marketing products and services.

– intend to tackle each day with purpose and strive for a sense of fulfilment in everything we do.


We’d also love to hear what you want to see more of, or have us add to the mix, so post a comment and let us know.

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Taking the time to build your team (and other necessities)

Taking the time to build your team (and other necessities)

By Danielle Scheepers

Posted on 28th November 2018

‘AK, have you managed to finish that report yet?’ ‘Guys, we have a meeting in 5 minutes.’ ‘Kirst, where did you save the file that I need for the flyer? And did the client say anything specific about the tone that they wanted?’

If you have ever wondered what really happens behind the Yellow Door, this is it. Most of the sentences we say to one another during the day revolve around getting work done – obviously. Most of the time it is silent with only the sporadic pattering of keyboards and clicking of mice, we are one productive team. We have to be - we're in marketing.

A quote by Henry Ford comes to mind, ‘Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.’


What you won’t see at first glance is the support we give one another, the teasing, the vulnerable moments. As with any relationships, those in the office need to be worked on and invested into. These may seem of secondary importance in a marketing agency, but are the lifeblood of what we do as we need to be a cohesive unit in order to produce good work. 


What’s our secret? Simple – team building activities are woven into the culture of the company. Wait a moment before the inevitable eye roll, allow us to explain.

It’s not all trust falls and motivational cheese

Most of our activities as a team are spent doing interesting things we enjoy. We have gone hiking, bowling, running (are we too active?) and eaten many meals together. ‘Team building’ doesn’t necessarily mean there have to be awkward moments of building towers with toilet paper rolls or helping each other across a rope bridge – unless that’s what you are into. You would be amazed at what simply splitting a pizza could do for your company.


One size fits all

In terms of personalities, our team could not be more diverse. We are varying ages, have different cultural backgrounds, vastly different interests and religious viewpoints. Far from hindering our team it adds texture, interesting opinions and of course helps us create content for a varied audience. Unfortunately, it also means that our approaches to work techniques and styles of communication differ, which can lead to frustration and less productivity.


Our recent year end function involved a lot of chats around the braai and sharing our views. It was refreshing and provided insight into the motivations and actions of others. The difference in the office is marked, as everyone is now taking into consideration feedback that was given and applying it to the best of their ability.

Happy people work harder

According to the book ‘The 7 Hidden reasons Employees leave’ by Leigh Branham, 89% of employers think that people leave the company for more money. 12% of employees actually leave for more money.


So why do people choose to stay at a company? I believe that those in leadership have a lot more influence than they realise. Of course it helps that both my bosses have a top Woo strength, but simply making an effort to gauge what kind of activities your employees would like to be involved in and actively engaging in those is enough to boost morale and increase productivity.


In conclusion, I would just like to say that we hope these reasons are enough to convince you to take your team out once in a while, be it for a jog or just a simple dinner. If you are not sure where to begin, check out our Instagram account for inspiration. Happy bonding!

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You are a creative genius, you just don’t know it yet

I used to hate being called a “creative.”

Like I was a rare breed of human that was somehow more interesting than the rest of humanity.

I guess the term excuses my retro/ pirate cum homeless fairy wardrobe, but surely that is just personal taste? Women who carefully curate their elegant wardrobes are rarely referred to as creative even though these same ladies spend hours literally sculpting the raw material of their cheekbones, eyebrows and lips into something completely new.

Or what about people that take pride in how they plate their food or hang photographs on their walls? Surely sportsmen, business people and stay at home moms have a strategy and tools to help them make it through the day?

I think what I am trying to say is: the term creativity is broader than what we allow.


Creativity (noun) the process by which one utilizes creative ability. –

All human beings have the ability to create, and they do, daily. Anything that didn’t exist before and is now in existence because you put it together was created by you! No individual is exactly like another in every single way. This means that no matter what, you will always have something to contribute to every situation that no one else does. Processes can be improved, fresh perspective introduced, in short, we all have the ability to make things better.


The reason we don’t expand on our creative abilities is very simple actually.


I recently watched a TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat Pray Love. The talk was titled, “Your elusive creative genius.” She shared many insights, but one in particular caught my attention: Gilbert shared about the beginning of her career and how those around her had a fear-based reaction every time they discovered she wanted to become an author.

They would ask things like, “Aren’t you afraid you’re never going to have any success?” “Aren’t you afraid the humiliation of rejection will kill you?” “Aren’t you afraid you’ll work your whole life at this craft and nothing is ever going to come of it and you’re going to die on a scrapheap of broken dreams with your mouth filled with the bitter ash of failure?”

Her short answer to all of the above questions was “yes.” Despite this, she decided that there was no point in fearing the thing you were put on this earth to do, and I completely agree.

Chances are that you have all the tools needed to accomplish the task. Worst case scenario, you try and fail, no biggie, try again. There is one thing that is much worse than fear – regret.


Being creative may appear to be unicorn made of rainbow fluff, but in reality, it is more like a wild stallion that needs to be broken. In order to do that, you need to commit to chasing it down and holding on tight.

True creatives are not elusive, waif-like weirdos. They are visionary, hardworking weirdos. Below are a few practical things that will help you tame the bucking bronco within.

Own your stuff

Find something that you care about and commit to it. Sometimes, as in the case of a copy writer in an agency for example, you will be told what you care about at any given moment. Roll with it.

Try different angles

A great tool for creating something is exploring ways that you have never tried before. Take risks, they really offer the greatest rewards. Good rule: try finding out how things are usually done and go completely in the opposite direction. Or whatever direction you want really, just don’t drag yourself down the same path day in and out. This is creative suicide.

Show up and slog

Gilbert describes herself as a mule. She says her creative process involves showing up and churning the work out systematically. I used to think that nothing interesting could possibly come of this – until I started working at a marketing agency.

On average I write about 3 blogs a week. That’s roughly 12 a month. These average 450 – 700 words, excluding the title and various social media posts to promote said masterpieces. All in all, it can be tedious work and I frequently hit walls, but am slowly learning that they are not houses, and I don’t have to live there forever.


“Creativity about life, in all aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people.” – Leo Burnett

All circumstances, experiences and those you come into contact with – shape who you are. Especially, for whatever strange reason, the negative experiences. Use these as opportunities to grow and learn. Be present and enjoy the good things. You never know when you will need to draw on them for inspiration.