Personas Personas Personas

21 Dec 2006 - 12:53pm
7 years ago
6 replies
1001 reads
Dave Malouf
2005

What about "innovation"?

BusinessWeek even added a quarterly addition to their magazine about
Innovation.

Personally, I find "personae" so uninteresting. I think they are useful,
but they are so unexciting.
To me the real exciting methodologies are around design exploration,
divergent thinking exercises, deep dives, brainstorming, rapid
prototyping, interactive prototyping, etc.

If we are going to talk about this year, AJAX and Flash have made doing
interactive prototypes more important than ever, and last year caused
the call for the death of the "page" and this year called for the death
of the "wireframe".

Tools like Axure stepped up this year as well.

-- dave

Dan Saffer wrote:
> "Personas" was this years' UX Buzzword.
>
> Anyone read either of the two books that came out solely dedicated to
> persona creation?
>
> The User is Always Right: A Practical Guide to Creating Personas for
> the Web
> The Persona Lifecycle : Keeping People in Mind Throughout Product Design
>
> Dan
>
>
>
>
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Comments

21 Dec 2006 - 1:04pm
Robert Reimann
2003

On 12/21/06, David Malouf <dave at ixda.org> wrote:

> Personally, I find "personae" so uninteresting. I think they are useful,
> but they are so unexciting.
>
> To me the real exciting methodologies are around design exploration,
> divergent thinking exercises, deep dives, brainstorming, rapid
> prototyping, interactive prototyping, etc.

As Kim mentioned, personas are far less interesting (to designers,
anyway) if they are not used to generate scenarios, which can be a
primary method of design exploration and customer-driven innovation.
There are few other tools that so directly connect the goals of users
with the product design.

> If we are going to talk about this year, AJAX and Flash have made doing
> interactive prototypes more important than ever

Absolutely. Flash prototyping is a critical part of my group's design
process these days.

Robert.

--
Robert Reimann
President, IxDA

Manager, User Experience
Bose Corporation
Framingham, MA

21 Dec 2006 - 1:05pm
Jonathan Korman
2004

: "Personas" was this years' UX Buzzword.

Aye. It's a little odd for us at Cooper, since we've been doing personas
for many years. Alan Cooper coined the term and we mean a very
particular set of tools and techniques when we use the term, which
usually has differences both large and small from what some other people
mean when they say "personas." It certainly feels strange when people
ask us whether we are familiar with them! They have taken on a life of
their own.

When Alan gave a thumbnail description of the technique in his book The
Inmates Are Running the Asylum, I believe two things happened. First, it
gave a name, and some focus, to various similar techniques that many
other people had developed independently. Second, many people heard
about the basic idea and developed their own particular ideosyncratic
techniques from there.

So I think that it's helpful to remember that whenever we talk about
"personas," we're actually talking about a range of techniques, rather
than something with a clear, shared definition.

21 Dec 2006 - 1:10pm
Dave Malouf
2005

I want to clarify something about my "uninteresting" remark.

While I find the particular modeling method of personae to be
uninteresting, what I do love is field work: ethnography, interviewing,
photo essays and other contextually relevant observation techniques.

At Symbol, one way we jump from research data to scenarios is to develop
comics ... I wonder besides the folks at Yahoo who are with Kevin who
has been promoting the use of comics so heavily how many others are
using comics and what value do they find in them.

Creating narratives in any form seems to be primary. Scenarios are
definitely a source of this as well, but I like the more engaging aspect
of comics (and no, I didn't grow up on Xmen).

Oh! a common thing they teach in ID school are mood boards ... They are
quick and dirty, but communicate a ton. And finally there is the work of
Brenda Laurel's methods of design research (get the book) that are also
very compelling for using design techniques for telling stories that
derive useful empathy and strategic decision making.

-- dave

Robert Reimann wrote:
> On 12/21/06, David Malouf <dave at ixda.org> wrote:
>
>
>> Personally, I find "personae" so uninteresting. I think they are useful,
>> but they are so unexciting.
>>
>> To me the real exciting methodologies are around design exploration,
>> divergent thinking exercises, deep dives, brainstorming, rapid
>> prototyping, interactive prototyping, etc.
>>
>
> As Kim mentioned, personas are far less interesting (to designers,
> anyway) if they are not used to generate scenarios, which can be a
> primary method of design exploration and customer-driven innovation.
> There are few other tools that so directly connect the goals of users
> with the product design.
>
>
>> If we are going to talk about this year, AJAX and Flash have made doing
>> interactive prototypes more important than ever
>>
>
> Absolutely. Flash prototyping is a critical part of my group's design
> process these days.
>
> Robert.
>
>

21 Dec 2006 - 1:33pm
Becubed
2004

>> Personally, I find "personae" so uninteresting. I think they are
>> useful,
>> but they are so unexciting.

Agreed. And I'm even a vocal advocate of personas. But...

Personas themselves are simply a deliverable, an output. Discussions
on "personas" tend to conflate two different topics: (a) the research
and learnings with (b) the deliverable. It's the research and
learning that's exciting.

If you're simply creating the deliverable -- perhaps as an experiment
in what has obviously been a popular fad in the past year -- then
you're missing the boat and will probably have a bad experience, as
Todd described in an earlier post. Personas are REALLY about the
insights/information they contain.

In response to Robert H's idea to focus on the activity instead of
the user... well, I agree with Robert R's perspective that you need
to understand the activity in context of the actor (and vice versa).
Here's an example from the chapter I contributed to "The Persona
Lifecycle" -- just to tie into another thread in this discussion <grin>:

In designing a scientific instrument, our field research uncovered an
insight into the scientists who would use this product. One
scientist, illustrated through a persona named "Tracy", thinks of
herself as a detective who's sifting carefully through rich data,
looking for a moment of "eureka". Another scientist, captured in a
persona named "Marcus", was a slave to his to-do list; he simply
could not, or would not, take the time needed to be as detailed as
Tracy.

This insight had a huge impact on the design of the product's UI. And
it's an insight that's not inherent in the *activity* itself. We'd
have missed it without going the route of personas. And by personas,
I'm including the process of research and learning -- the personas
themselves were merely a way to share the exciting insights we'd
uncovered.

--
Robert Barlow-Busch
Practice Director, Interaction Design
Quarry Integrated Communications Inc.
rbarlowbusch at quarry.com
(519) 570-2020

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21 Dec 2006 - 6:32pm
Esteban Barahona
2006

2006/12/21, Jonathan Korman <jonathan en cooper.com>:
>
> : "Personas" was this years' UX Buzzword.
>
> Aye. It's a little odd for us at Cooper, since we've been doing personas
> for many years. Alan Cooper coined the term and we mean a very
> particular set of tools and techniques when we use the term, which
> usually has differences both large and small from what some other people
> mean when they say "personas." It certainly feels strange when people
> ask us whether we are familiar with them! They have taken on a life of
> their own.
>
> When Alan gave a thumbnail description of the technique in his book The
> Inmates Are Running the Asylum, I believe two things happened. First, it
> gave a name, and some focus, to various similar techniques that many
> other people had developed independently. Second, many people heard
> about the basic idea and developed their own particular ideosyncratic
> techniques from there.
>
> So I think that it's helpful to remember that whenever we talk about
> "personas," we're actually talking about a range of techniques, rather
> than something with a clear, shared definition.

and what are those techniques? what are exactly personas? those it has
something to do with Time's person(s) of this year?

...the book referred is on my Amazon's wishlist, but either way it will be
nice to clearly define the term on this list.

--
http://www.zensui.org

22 Dec 2006 - 8:13am
Chris Remie
2006

When designing for services, especially in the concept stage, it can
be very helpful to have detailed, real live personas, and use these to
make scenarios, like episodes out of the life of the persona.
This could be a fairly fast exercise, done 'in your head'.

For instance if you are designing for a cell phone service, the fact
that Sally drives a Toyota and 2 teenage boys could bring you to a
scenario/service design idea where Sally brings her sons to a soccer
game and she gets a text message on her phone from the Toyota dealer
near by to have a coffee and see the new Toyota models while she is
waiting for her sons to finish their game.

Or if Sally's kids are small, and you visualise her putting them in
the car while her phone goes of, maybe this gives you the idea to
design her phone in a way that she can answer it with one hand.

If you design only with what you know, you might miss opportunities
With personas and scenarios you can try to find out, without doing (a
lot of) field work, what you didn't know.

Chris Remie.

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