persona is a tool to "feel the pain" of the activity

28 Nov 2007 - 5:36pm
7 years ago
2 replies
554 reads
Oleh Kovalchuke
2006

What is the goal of persona creation?

To a large extent it's a framing tool. Persona creation is a tool to "feel
the pain" of the activity, to empathize with the users. The research, which
goes into creation of personas does not contradict, and actually may
complement the activity centered design process.

Creation of personas are not necessary (or "useful"), when
*everyone*involved in the design already feels the pain of the
activity for which the
product is designed. In this case, the frames created by would be personas
are already internalized.

Alphasmart is one good example of the activity pain felt by the designers,
who listened to the users. The company has tried to sell more or less
standard laptops to the high schools initially. Imagine 30 power plugs in
the classroom. Teachers suggested removing unnecessary features. Designers
have listened and the company now sells much simpler, cheaper, hard to
destruct wireless word processors, which runs for six months from two AA
batteries. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0fWVIwmrfiA (skip to 26 min, the
rest of the clip is also quite educational: total user experience created by
iTunes, "add value, not features" at StarMine and other concepts all too
familiar to this list).

Oleh

--
Oleh Kovalchuke
Interaction Design is the Design of Time
http://www.tangospring.com/IxDtopicWhatIsInteractionDesign.htm

Comments

28 Nov 2007 - 5:42pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

> What is the goal of persona creation?

Everybody run - it's a trap!

To a large extent it's a framing tool. Persona creation is a tool to "feel
> the pain" of the activity, to empathize with the users.

This is not the only goal, by any means. It's also used to determine what
features are needed, how the intended audience might use the solution, etc.

-r-

29 Nov 2007 - 6:37pm
Petteri Hiisilä
2004

Robert Hoekman, Jr. kirjoitti 29.11.2007 kello 1:42:

>> What is the goal of persona creation?
>
> Everybody run - it's a trap!

Bite taken...

> To a large extent it's a framing tool. Persona creation is a tool to
> "feel
>> the pain" of the activity, to empathize with the users.
>
> This is not the only goal, by any means. It's also used to determine
> what
> features are needed, how the intended audience might use the
> solution, etc.

No, personas aren't for that, Robert! Scenarios are. You're describing
a common error (and known issue) when experimenting with personas.

Context scenarios - the next step _after_ personas - are used to
figure out, what features are needed and how the intended audience
might use the solution. Scenarios and Framework definition are where
the invention takes place, and/or starts to get reported to the client.

If you embed any future solutions into the _persona description_, you
haven't described the current pain, but the future scenario that
you're supposed to design. You'd have already limited your scope, too.

Personas capture the _current_ behavior. And that's already quite an
accomplishment! We're trying to capture the pain with personas, not
the cure - yet.

Personas help, when you first agree on the problem with the client.
Stop there, have a meeting. The go ahead and do some design. That way
you can show both cause and effect (before - after), and suddenly the
logic behind the design is much more easy to understand for the
client, who didn't take the same thought process. There's much less
politics involved this way.

If you embed the future scenarios into persona descriptions, you lose
the ability to display cause and effect - both for yourself and your
audience.

The persona description is a bit paradoxical. You first describe the
current behavior, tools, aptitudes, attitudes, etc. Then you explain
his/her goals. But the persona's goals are not the same as the digital
implementation! The digital solution gradually gravitates towards the
goals, if the design is good, the code works and the business plan is
viable.

It can takes several builds and versions, and years. But at least you
know the current pain and the goal - just fill the gaps with design.
And the version 1.0 can be quite good. Everything you need - for
starters, nothing you don't - at first.

All this isn't mean to say that you can't design without personas.
Sure you can. But when used with care, I've found that they save a lot
of time, create better atmosphere and help us gravitate to better
future scenarios.

Petteri

--
Petteri Hiisilä
Senior Interaction Designer
iXDesign / +358505050123 /
petteri.hiisila at ixdesign.fi

"Simple is better than complex.
Complex is better than complicated."
- Tim Peters

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