Powerpoint vs. "regular" slides

23 Jan 2005 - 6:47pm
9 years ago
50 replies
1393 reads
Dan Zlotnikov
2004

I recall reading an article in which powerpoint was blamed for its
inefficient and ineffectual presentation of data. A comparison was
then made between a single slide and something like four powerpoint
slides that were needed to present the same data, losing the
obviousness of certain trends in the process.

I've just spent a good half an hour trying to find it with zero
success, so I'm hoping someone here knows what I'm talking about. It
may have even been originally posted here, but I can't find it in the
archives.

Anyone?

Dan
--
WatCHI
http://www.acm.org/chapters/watchi

Comments

23 Jan 2005 - 7:27pm
Lada Gorlenko
2004

DZ> I recall reading an article in which powerpoint was blamed for its
DZ> inefficient and ineffectual presentation of data. A comparison was
DZ> then made between a single slide and something like four powerpoint
DZ> slides that were needed to present the same data, losing the
DZ> obviousness of certain trends in the process.

Now, *that's* the sort of query we want to give a search engine and
expect it return exactly what we want!!!

It's most probably Tufte's "Power Point is Evil":
http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/11.09/ppt2.html

Lada

23 Jan 2005 - 7:47pm
b0b d0n
2005

Dan Zlotnikov wrote:

> I recall reading an article in which powerpoint was blamed for its
> inefficient and ineffectual presentation of data.

Keynote,Anyone ??
http://www.masterviews.com/2003/03/04/apple_keynote_vs_microsoft_powerpoint.htm
http://www.forbes.com/home/2003/01/30/cx_pm_0130tentech.html

23 Jan 2005 - 7:59pm
Dan Zlotnikov
2004

> It's most probably Tufte's "Power Point is Evil":
> http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/11.09/ppt2.html

> Lada

That's the one!

Thanks Chris, Keith, and Lada!

> Now, *that's* the sort of query we want to give a search engine and
> expect it return exactly what we want!!!

There's a newsgroup I'm on with enough obscure and esoteric areas of
knowledge covered that it's been dubbed "the ultimate search engine."
It tends to return very accurate results, within a few hours. I
haven't tried the "Google Answers" system, but I imagine it is rather
similar. (http://answers.google.com/answers/)

For anyone keeping track, this search has yielded one link to the
exact article I had in mind (I read it in Wired, I remember now), one
link to the original article Wired cites (Edward Tufte's own site),
and one link to a closely related article, that I found interesting
and very relevant. So, 3/3.

Google pulled up nothing in terms of exact hits and a few that were
mildly relevant.

I imagine I could narrow down the search if priority ranking was given
to posts containing terms like "usability," "design," or "information
architecture." Are there any specialised search engines that return
better results on searches as vague as this?

Dan

--
WatCHI
http://www.acm.org/chapters/watchi

24 Jan 2005 - 4:19am
Marcin Wichary
2004

> Keynote,Anyone ??
> http://www.masterviews.com/2003/03/04/
> apple_keynote_vs_microsoft_powerpoint.htm
> http://www.forbes.com/home/2003/01/30/cx_pm_0130tentech.html

According to Tufte, Keynote presentations create exactly the same
problems as PowerPoint ones; the heart of the issue lies much deeper,
and I tend to agree with him on this matter. Keynote might have nicer
typography, subtler transitions and generally better visual taste, but
it doesn't matter much when you have insipid slides with everything put
into arbitrary bullet-point hierarchies... and then people just reading
them out loud.

Marcin Wichary
e:\> mwichary at usability.pl
w:\> www.aci.com.pl/mwichary >> Attached
w:\> www.aci.com.pl/mwichary/gui >> Graphical User Interface gallery
w:\> www.10yearsofbeingboring.com >> 10 years of Being Boring
w:\> www.usability.pl >> Usability.pl

24 Jan 2005 - 5:45am
Lada Gorlenko
2004

MW> According to Tufte, Keynote presentations create exactly the same
MW> problems as PowerPoint ones; the heart of the issue lies much deeper,
MW> and I tend to agree with him on this matter. Keynote might have nicer
MW> typography, subtler transitions and generally better visual taste, but
MW> it doesn't matter much when you have insipid slides with everything put
MW> into arbitrary bullet-point hierarchies... and then people just reading
MW> them out loud.

Tufte's point is in shallow material presentation: the knowledge
migrated into bullet points; credibility of communication is under
threat. But are presenters the scapegoats?

Where I work, reports used to be standard deliverables of user
research and user/expert evaluation engagements. Sometimes, customers
would ask for a face-to-face presentation as well, so Power Point
slides were included as an extra deliverable.

Nowadays, things have changed. At the beginning of each project, we
offer a range of deliverables; for research/evaluation these typically
are full report, light-weight report, and slides. More than half of
customers pick slides (even without face-to-face discussion) and
nothing else. I never understood that. Yes, it's cheaper than reports
(add 1-2 days for a light one and 3-4 for full), but only slightly,
since we still do full data analysis in most cases. But is cost-cutting
the main drive? or is it a general tendency of our customers to have
bullet-point understanding of problems and solutions these days?

What are your experiences with your customers?

Lada,
UCD consultant, UK

24 Jan 2005 - 6:34am
Jean-Marc Dubois
2005

Hello,

I don't think the problem is with bullet list, it is neither with way the
Computer Assisted Presentation tool you're using deals with transition or
typography or charts.

The problem is with the user which is not educated in how to communicate
with the help of slides. PowerPoint, KeyNote and whatever tool you want are
giving us the ability to make the slides we want, to design our
presentation.

Could someone in this list think that the right tool can enable your
customers to design their application/web site/... without your help? This
is what PowerPoint vendors are claiming. But to build a good presentation
you need some knowledge (designing presentation slides is a specialized
knowledge of book magazine paper design, with some knowledge of how a
presentation "works": a little of oral communication and of video
knowledge).

PowerPoint and others just seems to allow users to write as words come to
mind, to use chart just to have some illustration, to use animations and
sounds on every word, and so on. The worst is that all "PowerPoint How-to"
courses I have ever seen or heard about, just show all the capabilities of
PowerPoint, and thus show how to create the worst presentations ever! There
are so few courses on how to do a good presentation.

Jean-Marc Dubois

24 Jan 2005 - 6:39am
Ulla Tønner
2004

Lada wrote:

> Nowadays, things have changed. [...] More than half of
> customers pick slides (even without face-to-face discussion) and
> nothing else. I never understood that. [...] But is cost-cutting
> the main drive? or is it a general tendency of our customers to have
> bullet-point understanding of problems and solutions these days?

I think both, and then I would add a few:

Lack of time:
Everyone wants the results to be presentet quickly. Me inclusive. Everyone
is curious to hear what the users said and 'how the solution tested'. And
the earlier the results come foreward, the less the others on the team has
to analyse on the little they know (has seen, observed, or been told), which
can lead to guess work.
On top of this general impatience, everyone wants the results to be
implementet and the solution launched. And often - if deadlines have been
broken, or time has been wrongly estimated - the developers have to get
started 'yesterday' to be able to launch on time.

Overview:
I like to communicate through powerpoint presentations. It's easyer for me
to give the costumer and the developer team an overview of the problems. I
used to write reports as well, but I find them 'dry' to read through, and I
know, that they often just lay around on some shelf whithout being read. If
the short presentation form can ensure, that my message (the users' message)
get through to the right people - I don't need to communicate the deeper
(more scientific) whys and hows.

As a part of an iterative process:
Nowadays I work for a software company, and we do usertesting ealier in the
process - to refine either this version or to save the input for the next
version. In this context, you can say that I don't have a costumer. So, who
is going to read the report? The developers are certainly not! And the
director, no. So, no matter how I work with the results, I'm convinced that
the classic report is not the way to get through to the right people. Slide
presentations, persona descriptions and mockups is the way, I believe.

Regards

Ulla
Usability consultant, Denmark

24 Jan 2005 - 6:53am
Ulla Tønner
2004

Jean-Marc wrote
>
> The problem is with the user which is not educated in how to communicate
> with the help of slides. [...] The worst is that all "PowerPoint How-to"
> courses I have ever seen or heard about, just show all the capabilities of
> PowerPoint, and thus show how to create the worst presentations ever!
> There are so few courses on how to do a good presentation.
>

Exactly!!!
Just like making websites ;) Webdesigners/programmers/concept designers are
tought what they can do and make and create - but not how to use these
tools/abilities to communicate right.

Ulla
Usability Consultant, Denmark

24 Jan 2005 - 7:14am
Ben Hunt
2004

Jean-Marc Dubois wrote:

>The problem is with the user which is not educated in how to communicate
>with the help of slides. PowerPoint, KeyNote and whatever tool you want are
>giving us the ability to make the slides we want, to design our
>presentation.
>
>
It's the old maxim: "The best thing about the web is: everybody can be a
publisher... The worst thing about the web is: everybody can be a publisher"

Just like the DTP revolution in the early 90s, which resulted (and still
results) in appalling posters and newsletters appearing on office walls
round the world.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose...

- Ben

24 Jan 2005 - 7:17am
Lada Gorlenko
2004

UT> Lack of time:
UT> Everyone wants the results to be presentet quickly. Me inclusive. Everyone
UT> is curious to hear what the users said and 'how the solution tested'. And
UT> the earlier the results come foreward, the less the others on the team has
UT> to analyse on the little they know (has seen, observed, or been told), which
UT> can lead to guess work.

I see your point, but the time-savings are marginal. Quality depends
on the data analysis more than on presentation. I am often pressed for
delivering quick 'what the users said', and I always resist it. It's
not what the users said that's critical, but *what we make out of it*.
If it was as simple as passing on someone's reactions, there would be
little need and credibility in our work.

To get something really useful from data (especially qualitative),
one has to go through lots of thinking. The English term "massage
data" is brilliant as it gives an idea of a proper data treatment.
Massage and sleep on it. Reading carefully constructed explanations
and insights doesn't seem to me a price too high to pay for increasing
the quality of one's product with a hefty development cost.

UT> Overview:
UT> I like to communicate through powerpoint presentations. It's easyer for me
UT> to give the costumer and the developer team an overview of the problems.

Well, that's what Executive Summaries are for. They are still there.

UT> If the short presentation form can ensure, that my message (the users'
UT> message) get through to the right people - I don't need to communicate
UT> the deeper (more scientific) whys and hows.

Indeed. In most cases, short presentations are enough for management,
but not enough for people who have to fix problems. This leads me to
belive that managers who commission nothing but short presentations
don't care much about their teams, who may need deeper understanding
of the problem than a series of graphs.

Science or no science, the goal of reports we write is not only to
flag the problems, but to educate the client team *why* the problems
have occurred and *how to avoid them* in the future. This is our main
added value to the project as I see it, not the discovery of 'what-s'
(this is applicable to evaluation projects, not design work).

UT> So, who is going to read the report? The developers are certainly
UT> not!

They certainly are, if the problems are to be fixed intelligently (not
patched in a hurry). In our case, the full reports specifically target
development teams. What the point of running evaluations if we only
leave the developers with "here we are, guys, it's your problem how
you fix things" attitude? How would they learn about good software
engineering (which is apparently not widely taught at Comp. Science
departments), if we don't help them?

UT> And the director, no.

No, directors read management summaries - parts of documents
specifically designed for managers.

Lada

24 Jan 2005 - 10:32am
Manu Sharma
2003

While we're discussing PowerPoint, thought I'd mention Cliff Atkinson's
excellent blog on the topic - Beyond Bullets

http://sociablemedia.typepad.com/

(there's a wealth of wisdom in the archives)

His book "Beyond Bullet Points" releases next month.
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0735620520/

Manu.

24 Jan 2005 - 10:58am
Justine Smith
2004

http://www.edwardtufte.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=00001B&topic_
id=1&topic=Ask%20E%2eT%2e

E.T. ON TECHNOLOGIES FOR MAKING PRESENTATIONS

It is astonishing that people have somehow managed to teach and to give
talks for thousands of years without "presentation software"!

In the first place, don't begin with the question "What presentation
software should one use?" but rather with "What are the
thinking-learning-understanding tasks that my displays and presentations
are supposed to help with?" Answering this second question will then
suggest technologies of information transmission.

So if you are teaching a course in art history or architecture, you will
need to show a lot of high-resolution color 35mm slides and to provide
color thumbnails on a class handout (paper). To present statistical
data, you'll need to hand out annotated and sourced tables, graphs, and
charts on paper.

If the presentation is about strategic thinking or project planning, you
will want to avoid the dreaded bullet list. On how the bullet list makes
people stupid, see Gordon Shaw, Robert Brown, and Philip Bromiley,
"Strategic Stories: How 3M is Rewriting Business Planning," Harvard
Business Review, 76 (May-June 1998), pp. 41-50.

And there is nothing like the real thing; show your audience the actual
physical object you are talking about. If the content consists of sound
and motion, show sound and motion.(See my earlier response on
multi-media for more on this.)

For medical case presentations, see the display in Visual Explantions,
pp. 110-111 and the articles by Seth Powsner and E.T. cited there.

Overhead projectors and PowerPoint tend to leave no traces; instead give
people paper, which they can read, take away, show others, make copies,
and come back to you in a month and say "Didn't you say this last month?
It's right here in your handout." The resolution of paper (being read by
people in the audience) must be ten times the resolution of talk talk
talk or reading aloud from bullet lists projected up on the wall. A
paper record tells your audience that you are serious, responsible,
exact, credible. For deep analysis of evidence and reasoning about
complex matters, permanent high-resolution displays are an excellent
start.

For a devastating parody of PowerPoint, see Lincoln's Gettysburg Address
in PowerPoint, by Peter Norvig (http://www.norvig.com or a mirror site
which you can easily track down in Google).

One more example. If you are teaching math, hand out the proofs on paper
at the beginning of class to all the students; then work through the
written-out proofs aloud in class, following the proofs on paper. That
way your students aren't merely making notes and recording your words;
instead they are thinking. I believe that students should THINK in
class, not take notes. So give the students your lecture notes and go
through them carefully in class, trying to insure understanding of each
part as you go. Your voice in effect annotates and explains the material
on paper. (Of course, these ideas apply widely, not just to teaching
math.)

I have written specifically about making presentations in Visual
Explanations, pp. 68-71.

-- Edward Tufte, May 28, 2001

24 Jan 2005 - 11:26am
Alain D. M. G. ...
2003

--- Lada Gorlenko <lada at acm.org> a écrit :
But is
> cost-cutting
> the main drive? or is it a general tendency of our customers to have
> bullet-point understanding of problems and solutions these days?
>
> What are your experiences with your customers?
>

Anybody with presentation smarts combines concise PowerPoint slides
with a paper companion. I find it crucial to plan and carefully
prepare several layered and easily identifiable paper companions in
fact, and send e-mail to all participants afterwards to give
immediately clickable links to quoted/relevant material. In a few
cases the e-mail with the links leaves before the presentation.

- Senior management dozes off when there are more than 7 lines per
slide
- Subject experts get fidgety when you show them too many slides
- Scientists (people who publish) don't care since during the whole
presentation they are either reading the (preferably long) list of
readings and list of consulted papers (the bibliography you gave them
before the presentation started) to find on what side of which
scientific debate you are on or they have speed read it and are
laboring to fit your bullet points to any side of any scientific
debate, as you explain them.

I do not think that Tufte is basically dishonest but in building up the
hype around his message on the importance of paper and high resolution
info he neglects to mention that PowerPoint software has several
functionalities which make it easier to tie in several layers of
formats of those paper handouts he thinks are so important to give out
before the presentation.

Apart from that I agree heartily with Jean-Marc Dubois and Ulla Tonner!

Alain vaillancourt

__________________________________________________________
Lèche-vitrine ou lèche-écran ?
magasinage.yahoo.ca

24 Jan 2005 - 12:57pm
David Polinchock
2005

I'm guessing that I am probably older then a good number of folks here, but
the real problem with things like PowerPoint is that they are so easy to
make changes with, that people really don't have to think about what they
want to say.

For example, when I learned editing in college, I was taught to edit with a
razor blade and tape, even though there were computer editing systems
available (OK, I'm not that old!). Why? Because when editing by physically
cutting the film, it forced you to really think about what you wanted to
say. You couldn't just hit "undo" and try again. With tools like
PowerPoint, Keynote, etc., you can keep making changes on the fly and it
doesn't force you to really hone your story first.

Secondly, when you actually gave presentations by using slides, you had
production costs associated with the number of slides that you used. (And,
of course, you had to get your slide copy to the production group weeks
before the actual presentation!) Again, knowing that you were paying for
each slide that you used, you really had to think about the best way to get
your message across.

Why not try doing a PowerPoint as if it was a live TV show. No edits, no
undo, no chance to go back and try again. You get one shot and then it's
over. Or think about PowerPoint slides as the illustrations of a children's
book. You still need to tell the story, they help to bring the story to
life!

Anyway, just my thoughts on the whole storytelling issue!

David
_________________________________
David B. Polinchock
Chief Experience Officer
Brand Experience Lab
voice: 212-274-1882 x104
e-mail: david at brandexperiencelab.org
Web: http://www.brandexperiencelab.org

> From: Marcin Wichary <mwichary at aci.com.pl>
> Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2005 10:19:55 +0100
> To: <discuss-interactiondesigners.com at lists.interactiondesigners.com>
> Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] Powerpoint vs. "regular" slides
>
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>
>> Keynote,Anyone ??
>> http://www.masterviews.com/2003/03/04/
>> apple_keynote_vs_microsoft_powerpoint.htm
>> http://www.forbes.com/home/2003/01/30/cx_pm_0130tentech.html
>
> According to Tufte, Keynote presentations create exactly the same
> problems as PowerPoint ones; the heart of the issue lies much deeper,
> and I tend to agree with him on this matter. Keynote might have nicer
> typography, subtler transitions and generally better visual taste, but
> it doesn't matter much when you have insipid slides with everything put
> into arbitrary bullet-point hierarchies... and then people just reading
> them out loud.
>
>
> Marcin Wichary
> e:\> mwichary at usability.pl
> w:\> www.aci.com.pl/mwichary >> Attached
> w:\> www.aci.com.pl/mwichary/gui >> Graphical User Interface gallery
> w:\> www.10yearsofbeingboring.com >> 10 years of Being Boring
> w:\> www.usability.pl >> Usability.pl
>
> _______________________________________________
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24 Jan 2005 - 2:05pm
Lada Gorlenko
2004

DP> Why not try doing a PowerPoint as if it was a live TV show.

"Live TV" is an excellent concept! And that's exactly what
easy-to-change presentations represent. However, I am afraid that
days of old-fashioned carefully constructed live TV are over.
It's a world of "reality TV" we live in now. All presenters can do
is say "Guys, we are live on Channel 4, please do not swear" (and why
exactly not, one wonders, if the same program has just featured
yesterday's tapes with an hour of non-stop swearing?)

In my team, we like Power Point as a tool for facilitating group
discussions. We like it precisely because the easy-to-change and
easy-to-chart facilities. You get everyone in a room, project what
you type on a wall, discuss, and have group thoughts documented and
immediately distributed. But this is a different usage from the
end-of-work deliverable.

DP> Or think about PowerPoint slides as the illustrations of a children's
DP> book. You still need to tell the story, they help to bring the story to
DP> life!

A good test is to give the presentation to a third party and ask what
they can make out of it. If they understand the story and can answer
meaningful questions, bingo!

Lada

24 Jan 2005 - 3:06pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

Lada Gorlenko wrote:

> Tufte's point is in shallow material presentation: the knowledge
> migrated into bullet points; credibility of communication is under
> threat. But are presenters the scapegoats?

Tufte's point goes deeper than just what you stated from my
understanding of his postion and material on the subject. It's gotten to
the point that many business people now think in bullet points to
communicate issues before even thinking about what it is exactly they
want to communicate.

Knowledge isn't even really being migrated to bullet points, it is now
starting in that form in people's brains destroying all sort of
opportnities for more effective communication.

Andrei

24 Jan 2005 - 3:14pm
Chris Ryan
2004

Since reading Tufte's paper, I've abandoned the use of bullet points
for presentations (whether PowerPoint, Keynote, or HTML--it's the
format as popularized by PowerPoint, not the specific software, he's
addressing) and instead use a projector only for demos; I circulate a
handout written in prose. I have found that Tufte is right: if you
actually learn the material in depth, and rehearse, so that you are
confident in speaking about it, audience understanding and response do
seem to improve. I have had comments that my presentations are
"persuasive." I believe that it is because I am speaking directly to
the audience, I am not using the bullet points as a "crutch," and
people aren't distracted by reading and re-reading the slides.

Chris

24 Jan 2005 - 3:14pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

Alain D. M. G. Vaillancourt wrote:

> Anybody with presentation smarts combines concise PowerPoint slides
> with a paper companion.

Not to be coy, but one could make the statement that anyone with
presentation smarts wouldn't need PowerPoint.

> I do not think that Tufte is basically dishonest but in building up the
> hype around his message on the importance of paper and high resolution
> info he neglects to mention that PowerPoint software has several
> functionalities which make it easier to tie in several layers of
> formats of those paper handouts he thinks are so important to give out
> before the presentation.

I think you just made the case for why Tufte thinks PP is evil. And that
you might have missed some of Tufte's point. It's not about paper vs.
digital slides per se, it's about the process that goes into designing
the presentation itself.

Tufte's point is this: Think first. Think about the data, think about
the story behind the data. Think about what it is the data is
communicating and how you can communicate it. Then make a presentation
in whatever means that allows that story to present itself.

Think first. And so outside the confines or some templated bullet-list.

PowerPoint is "evil" because it has changed the nature in which people
think. That's the bigger issue going on.

Andrei

24 Jan 2005 - 3:23pm
Marcin Wichary
2004

> I have had comments that my presentations are "persuasive." I believe
> that it is because I am speaking directly to the audience, I am not
> using the bullet points as a "crutch," and people aren't distracted by
> reading and re-reading the slides.

The most interesting comment I had about one of my presentations --
which used overhead projector only for illustrations and vivid pull-out
quotes -- was that it "required much more attention from the audience"
than a regular PowerPoint. I took it as a good sign. :)

Marcin Wichary
e:\> mwichary at usability.pl
w:\> www.aci.com.pl/mwichary >> Attached
w:\> www.aci.com.pl/mwichary/gui >> Graphical User Interface gallery
w:\> www.10yearsofbeingboring.com >> 10 years of Being Boring
w:\> www.usability.pl >> Usability.pl

24 Jan 2005 - 3:35pm
Lada Gorlenko
2004

CR> Since reading Tufte's paper, I've abandoned the use of bullet points
CR> for presentations (whether PowerPoint, Keynote, or HTML--it's the
CR> format as popularized by PowerPoint, not the specific software, he's
CR> addressing) and instead use a projector only for demos; I circulate a
CR> handout written in prose.

Colleagues, think of it this way:

On the one hand, we (collectively, as a class of professionals) move
more and more towards "presentation-style" communication [here I mean
quick-and-dirty (or quick-and-pretty if you wish) minimalist style
of communication, not necessarily just PP]. On the other hand, we more
and more embrace and defend the benefits of personas, which represent
exactly the opposite communication style: narrative, in prose, full
of non-essential (but cosy and helpful for defining the right context)
little details. And I bet there will be plenty of us who would use
both approaches, and wouldn't notice that they contradict themselves by
defending them both.

What's happening and why?

Lada

ps. Andrei, I totally agree with your comments: the problem is far,
far bigger than bulleted lists and templates. And that's exactly what
scares me: it *is* big...

24 Jan 2005 - 3:50pm
Ben Hunt
2004

Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

> Knowledge isn't even really being migrated to bullet points, it is now
> starting in that form in people's brains destroying all sort of
> opportnities for more effective communication.

True. It's the culture of the sound byte.

Perhaps "bullshit points" would be appropriate?

- Ben

24 Jan 2005 - 3:54pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

Lada Gorlenko wrote:

> On the one hand, we (collectively, as a class of professionals) move
> more and more towards "presentation-style" communication [here I mean
> quick-and-dirty (or quick-and-pretty if you wish) minimalist style
> of communication, not necessarily just PP].

That's a pretty big assumption. I know I certainly don't. In fact, last
time I gave bullet-list, quick-n-dirty presentation was when forced to
for an exec meeting at Adobe about three years ago. The last one I gave
before that was maybe four years prior to that.

In fact, I find it takes me quite longer to put together a presentation
when forced to cram everything into bulleted-slides. Not only is the
presentation worse, it extends the pain in making it and presenting it.

> On the other hand, we more
> and more embrace and defend the benefits of personas, which represent
> exactly the opposite communication style: narrative, in prose, full
> of non-essential (but cosy and helpful for defining the right context)
> little details.

Sidetrack: I almost tacked-on to my message about Tufte's position on
slideware that personas are doing to designers what bullet-lists did to
business speakers.

I still have yet to be shown any design process or end-product that used
personas that a) created a dramatically more effective end-result as a
direct result of personas, b) took less time than without creating
personas, or c) offered new insights on how to solve design problems
through direct use of personas.

The only use I have found for personas is to make product managers or
process-wonks happy. I have to yet to find any work I have done where
using personas has significantly made my design work or process better.

But maybe that's just me.

Andrei

24 Jan 2005 - 4:30pm
Greg Petroff
2004

If you are using a visual tool like ppt then it should
support the story telling with pictures.

The problem with ppt and others like it is that they
do not do a good job of using the medium well to:

Help the user use good art that supports the story
Build concepts well visually
Keep the audience entertained or at least
attentitive.

All of the above can be accomplished within PPT but it
requires a visually literate storyteller to do it. The
failing is in the interface to storytelling. That
being said I am not sure that is an easy thing to
design.

vizrt, the company I used to work for and currently
consult with designs all the 24 hour news graphics
systems for CNN and the like arround the world,
tickers, over the shoulder graphics etc.

They have tried to build a "story" telling tool that
allows news orgs to let the journalist tell stories
visualy through templates tied to a huge 3d object,
video clip and image database. The idea is that
artist create "story arch" templates for things that
happen often and then the content can be added last
minute by a non artist to tell a story with pictures
oftern times when no video feed might be available.

But...News is a highly formated world and the story
archs, even the really good ones are predictable. What
we do when we want to tell a story visually on our own
to an audience is way more complicated so I am not
sure that it can be done for corp presentation without
the group think creeping in.

greg

=====
Gregory Petroff

gpetroff at vizrt.com
+1 212 560 0708 tel
+1 212 560 0709 fax
+1 646 387 2841 mobile

24 Jan 2005 - 5:01pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

Gregory Petroff wrote:

> If you are using a visual tool like ppt then it should
> support the story telling with pictures.

It's not about "pictures" or typography or whatever. It's about focusing
on the content and understanding it. Once you have understanding, then
you focus on how to communicate it.

> The problem with ppt and others like it is that they
> do not do a good job of using the medium well to:
>
> Help the user use good art that supports the story
> Build concepts well visually
> Keep the audience entertained or at least
> attentitive.

This entirely misses the issues that Tufte speaks about. Disagree with
Tufte, fine, but to claim that all one needs is "good art" to help
create better presentations is simply off the mark. In fact, most of
Tufte's examples take away "art" for more effective communication.

> All of the above can be accomplished within PPT but it
> requires a visually literate storyteller to do it. The
> failing is in the interface to storytelling.

The failing is in the process and how that process has now affected the
thinking put into creating presentations in the first place. It's like
the proverbial snake eating it's own tail.

> vizrt, the company I used to work for and currently
> consult with designs all the 24 hour news graphics
> systems for CNN and the like arround the world,
> tickers, over the shoulder graphics etc.

No offense, but mainstream media and news is a cancer when it comes to
issues around communication, story-telling and the sound bite in our
modern culture. "News" over the last two hundred years has been whittled
away to nothing more than mass-entertainment consumerism and a fast-food
quality diet for the brain. Tickertapes, news teasers, inadequate depth
of reporting, forced opposing sides for the sake of "balance" lack of
journalists calling BS on people, lack of reporting on issues in
general. The whole lot of it stinks.

> They have tried to build a "story" telling tool that
> allows news orgs to let the journalist tell stories
> visualy through templates tied to a huge 3d object,
> video clip and image database. The idea is that
> artist create "story arch" templates for things that
> happen often and then the content can be added last
> minute by a non artist to tell a story with pictures
> oftern times when no video feed might be available.

Here's an idea: Have mainstream news journalists at CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC
and the crew at FauxNews think before they write. And have them think a
lot.

Really, toss the templates. Tell them to get out a BLANK sheet of paper
or whatever they want, but write down what they they know. Then have
them study it, rewrite it, and study some more. Then have them think
about it. After they really understand all of the issues involved in
their assignment, THEN have them worry in what way to best tell the
story, with what flow, music, images, clips, etc.

Create a "story arch?" Use visual templates with 3D art? Sorry, that
sounds that entirely offensive to me. This sort of process and practice
is a logical extension of the problems Tufte's rightfully complains about.

> But...News is a highly formated world and the story
> archs, even the really good ones are predictable.

Maybe I'm crossing over the line into "old fogie" land, but that kind of
statement scares the living crap out of me.

Andrei

24 Jan 2005 - 5:06pm
Beth Mazur
2003

I think the biggest problem with PowerPoint is that it is too easy to
get it to function solely as a speaker's aid...rather than the audience
aid it should be.

What I would like from a presentation tool would be a function that
showed a page with bullet points (or whatever) on *my* screen to
help with the cognitive load of presenting and showed a related,
but visually useful page out the VGA port to communicate better
to audience members.

Beth Mazur
IDblog: http://idblog.org

24 Jan 2005 - 5:23pm
Peter Bagnall
2003

You can do something vaguely like that if you set your video card to
extend the desktop onto the external display, rather than mirroring.

You can then see the editor with notes pages on the LCD panel, for
example, and the audience can get to see the slides.

It's ugly, awkward, and painful, but it's mildly better than a poke in
the eye. If you're going to use this I strongly recommend practising
with it though, since the controls easily slip from presentation mode
to edit mode which while presenting can be an unwelcome distraction.

Does anyone know if Keynote do this any better?

--Pete

On 24 Jan 2005, at 22:06, Beth Mazur wrote:

> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> material.]
>
> I think the biggest problem with PowerPoint is that it is too easy to
> get it to function solely as a speaker's aid...rather than the audience
> aid it should be.
>
> What I would like from a presentation tool would be a function that
> showed a page with bullet points (or whatever) on *my* screen to
> help with the cognitive load of presenting and showed a related,
> but visually useful page out the VGA port to communicate better
> to audience members.
>
> Beth Mazur
> IDblog: http://idblog.org
> _______________________________________________
> Interaction Design Discussion List
> discuss at ixdg.org
> --
> to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
> http://discuss.ixdg.org/
> --
> Questions: lists at ixdg.org
> --
> Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements
> already)
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> --
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>
>
------------------------------------------------------------------------
----
One of the great attractions of patriotism it fulfils our worst wishes.
In the person of our nation we are able, vicariously, to bully and
cheat. Bully and cheat, what's more, with a feeling that we are
profoundly virtuous.
Aldous Huxley

Peter Bagnall - http://people.surfaceeffect.com/pete/

24 Jan 2005 - 5:38pm
David Polinchock
2005

Actually, in one of those rare times that this happens, the new PowerPoint
in Office 2004 for the Mac has a "show" mode, that let's the presenter see
notes, the slide your showing and the slide coming up. It's pretty handy
actually and I understand it will be in the new version of Office for
Windows this year.

David

> From: Peter Bagnall <pete at surfaceeffect.com>
> Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2005 22:23:23 +0000
> To: Beth Mazur <bmazur at gmail.com>
> Cc: <discuss-interactiondesigners.com at lists.interactiondesigners.com>
> Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] Powerpoint vs. "regular" slides
>
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>
> You can do something vaguely like that if you set your video card to
> extend the desktop onto the external display, rather than mirroring.
>
> You can then see the editor with notes pages on the LCD panel, for
> example, and the audience can get to see the slides.
>
> It's ugly, awkward, and painful, but it's mildly better than a poke in
> the eye. If you're going to use this I strongly recommend practising
> with it though, since the controls easily slip from presentation mode
> to edit mode which while presenting can be an unwelcome distraction.
>
> Does anyone know if Keynote do this any better?
>
> --Pete
>
> On 24 Jan 2005, at 22:06, Beth Mazur wrote:
>
>> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
>> material.]
>>
>> I think the biggest problem with PowerPoint is that it is too easy to
>> get it to function solely as a speaker's aid...rather than the audience
>> aid it should be.
>>
>> What I would like from a presentation tool would be a function that
>> showed a page with bullet points (or whatever) on *my* screen to
>> help with the cognitive load of presenting and showed a related,
>> but visually useful page out the VGA port to communicate better
>> to audience members.
>>
>> Beth Mazur
>> IDblog: http://idblog.org
>> _______________________________________________
>> Interaction Design Discussion List
>> discuss at ixdg.org
>> --
>> to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
>> http://discuss.ixdg.org/
>> --
>> Questions: lists at ixdg.org
>> --
>> Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements
>> already)
>> http://subscribe-announce.ixdg.org/
>> --
>> http://ixdg.org/
>>
>>
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> ----
> One of the great attractions of patriotism it fulfils our worst wishes.
> In the person of our nation we are able, vicariously, to bully and
> cheat. Bully and cheat, what's more, with a feeling that we are
> profoundly virtuous.
> Aldous Huxley
>
> Peter Bagnall - http://people.surfaceeffect.com/pete/
>
> _______________________________________________
> Interaction Design Discussion List
> discuss at ixdg.org
> --
> to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest): http://discuss.ixdg.org/
> --
> Questions: lists at ixdg.org
> --
> Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements already)
> http://subscribe-announce.ixdg.org/
> --
> http://ixdg.org/

24 Jan 2005 - 9:14pm
Josh Seiden
2003

> I don't think the problem is with bullet list, [snip]

> The problem is with the user which is not educated in how to
> communicate with the help of slides. [snip]

> Could someone in this list think that the right tool can
> enable your customers to design their application/web
> site/... without your help? This is what PowerPoint vendors
> are claiming. But to build a good presentation you need some
> knowledge

Well the cat's out of the bag, isn't it? (Translation: too late!
Business users expect to create their own slide shows.) And
that's no reason for software designers to punt. (Translation:
employ a surrender tactic as in American football.)

Couldn't presentation software do more to create good visual
communication?

What if you created an application that integrates an optimized
internet-based photo/illustration database with a presentation
program? Present users with a speaker's notes panel. The user
types as many bullet points into the speaker's notes as he/she
wants. The application reads these notes and launches background
searches off of those bullet points. It returns related images in
a sidebar of some sort, ready to populate the slides that the
audiene will see.

What else could you do to encourage visual communication?

PS: If you like this idea, and are fool enough to try to build
it, let me know. I'd love to see if it would work.

JS

24 Jan 2005 - 10:11pm
Greg Petroff
2004

Hi Andrei,

I was neither condoning nor advocating what broadcast
news does with graphics in their business. What viz
was and is trying to do with its products is improve
the quality of "visual story telling" over the crappy
way its done now where the wrong picture goes with the
story and is controlled by other people in the
production of the content then the journalist who at
least should know the story better then others, it's
there story.

Most of the time its done pretty badly especially here
in the states. There are some European news groups
who actually care about story telling and by what I
mean by that is adding visual media that supports the
users comprehension of the news story allowing them to
grasp difficult concepts. ITN does this with election
coverage that tells the story of what's going on. But
most of it is crap and the news people when you get to
know them can be pretty crass.

The point I was trying to make and I guess I made it
poorly was that ppt started out as and is a visual
media presentation tool. The best presentations I see
in ppt are ones where there is almost no text, the
presenter uses images or art that help to communicate
important points the speaker is trying to make or
support what he is talking about. If you need to tell
a story with images then it can be a good tool (used
wisely).

The addage of a picture tells a thousand words...

The best presenters then make presentations that not
only have sound thinking in them, but use classic
narative skills like begining middle and end,
reacuring themes, humor, shock, suprise, etc.

My problem with power point is that it does not
support the user in making stories with visual images
well, and it does not help them tell stories. As Josh
points out there is probably a product for the making
if someone wants to make it. There are some
storyboarding tools for film makers that approach this
conceptualy.

I've read Tufte's argument and I agree with most of
it. And if I have content that is mostly about ideas I
rarely use ppt, opting for visio or Illustrator or
props or nothing at all.

And finally,

I totally agree with you re the group think part of
Powerpoint as well, how it's used by the majority of
its users is pretty bad. And it is too easy for people
to build 100 slide monstrosities!

There was a great presentation at infovis last fall by
Steve Roth of Mayaviz re a tool they built for the US
army for use in Baghdad. A really nice social network
/ shared knowledge space for commanders to share
information and identify conflicts over gis maps.
Before they had this new system they would meet every
morning (20+ different commanders, from engineering to
intel) watch 20 different ppt's, pull out the usb keys
and swap files. Now that's scary!

Greg

--- Andrei Herasimchuk <andrei at designbyfire.com>
wrote:

> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only
> relevant quoted material.]
>
> Gregory Petroff wrote:
>
> > If you are using a visual tool like ppt then it
> should
> > support the story telling with pictures.
>
> It's not about "pictures" or typography or whatever.
> It's about focusing
> on the content and understanding it. Once you have
> understanding, then
> you focus on how to communicate it.
>
> > The problem with ppt and others like it is that
> they
> > do not do a good job of using the medium well to:
> >
> > Help the user use good art that supports the story
> > Build concepts well visually
> > Keep the audience entertained or at least
> > attentitive.
>
> This entirely misses the issues that Tufte speaks
> about. Disagree with
> Tufte, fine, but to claim that all one needs is
> "good art" to help
> create better presentations is simply off the mark.
> In fact, most of
> Tufte's examples take away "art" for more effective
> communication.
>
> > All of the above can be accomplished within PPT
> but it
> > requires a visually literate storyteller to do it.
> The
> > failing is in the interface to storytelling.
>
> The failing is in the process and how that process
> has now affected the
> thinking put into creating presentations in the
> first place. It's like
> the proverbial snake eating it's own tail.
>
> > vizrt, the company I used to work for and
> currently
> > consult with designs all the 24 hour news graphics
> > systems for CNN and the like arround the world,
> > tickers, over the shoulder graphics etc.
>
> No offense, but mainstream media and news is a
> cancer when it comes to
> issues around communication, story-telling and the
> sound bite in our
> modern culture. "News" over the last two hundred
> years has been whittled
> away to nothing more than mass-entertainment
> consumerism and a fast-food
> quality diet for the brain. Tickertapes, news
> teasers, inadequate depth
> of reporting, forced opposing sides for the sake of
> "balance" lack of
> journalists calling BS on people, lack of reporting
> on issues in
> general. The whole lot of it stinks.
>
> > They have tried to build a "story" telling tool
> that
> > allows news orgs to let the journalist tell
> stories
> > visualy through templates tied to a huge 3d
> object,
> > video clip and image database. The idea is that
> > artist create "story arch" templates for things
> that
> > happen often and then the content can be added
> last
> > minute by a non artist to tell a story with
> pictures
> > oftern times when no video feed might be
> available.
>
> Here's an idea: Have mainstream news journalists at
> CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC
> and the crew at FauxNews think before they write.
> And have them think a
> lot.
>
> Really, toss the templates. Tell them to get out a
> BLANK sheet of paper
> or whatever they want, but write down what they they
> know. Then have
> them study it, rewrite it, and study some more. Then
> have them think
> about it. After they really understand all of the
> issues involved in
> their assignment, THEN have them worry in what way
> to best tell the
> story, with what flow, music, images, clips, etc.
>
> Create a "story arch?" Use visual templates with 3D
> art? Sorry, that
> sounds that entirely offensive to me. This sort of
> process and practice
> is a logical extension of the problems Tufte's
> rightfully complains about.
>
> > But...News is a highly formated world and the
> story
> > archs, even the really good ones are predictable.
>
> Maybe I'm crossing over the line into "old fogie"
> land, but that kind of
> statement scares the living crap out of me.
>
> Andrei
> _______________________________________________
> Interaction Design Discussion List
> discuss at ixdg.org
> --
> to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
> http://discuss.ixdg.org/
> --
> Questions: lists at ixdg.org
> --
> Announcement Online List (discussion list members
> get announcements already)
> http://subscribe-announce.ixdg.org/
> --
> http://ixdg.org/
>

=====
Gregory Petroff

gpetroff at vizrt.com
+1 212 560 0708 tel
+1 212 560 0709 fax
+1 646 387 2841 mobile

24 Jan 2005 - 11:45pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Jan 24, 2005, at 6:14 PM, Joshua Seiden wrote:

> Well the cat's out of the bag, isn't it? (Translation: too late!
> Business users expect to create their own slide shows.)

It's never too late. Until you are dead, it's never too late to effect
change in the world, no matter how large the problem seems.

> Couldn't presentation software do more to create good visual
> communication?

That's like asking couldn't paintbrushes do more to help someone paint
better pictures.

We have the tools to create good visual communication. Plenty of them.
The problem is not the lack of tools or the sophistication of the
tools.

> What if you created an application that integrates an optimized
> internet-based photo/illustration database with a presentation
> program? Present users with a speaker's notes panel. The user
> types as many bullet points into the speaker's notes as he/she
> wants. The application reads these notes and launches background
> searches off of those bullet points. It returns related images in
> a sidebar of some sort, ready to populate the slides that the
> audiene will see.

What if people just picked up a pen or pencil and actually just wrote
down their presentation first? You know, write it out in long hand,
draw sketches, attack ideas at the core which is largely an exercise in
thinking, not making lists in slide programs.

I try to avoid sitting down at the computer as the first thing I do
with any design work. I get out a pad and a pen or pencil and I sketch.
No matter how sophisticated the computer gets, it's not a replacement
for drawing or sketching or writing with my hands. Ideas and
communication happen in you, not in the computer. Not in a database and
certainly not as an automated or semi-automated system designed to help
you make better presentations.

The key to better presentations is people sitting down to think and
write before they ever touch a computer or slide.

> What else could you do to encourage visual communication?

The best way to encourage others is to make better presentations
yourself. Fancier tools are not the answer.

As a side note, I've long complained somewhat silently that most people
in the Usability, Research, HCI, IxD, UX and IA fields put together
some of the worst looking documents and presentations I've ever seen
from people who claim "design" in their titles or field of practice. I
can barely handle going to CHI for that reason. In fact, I think I made
a critical comment to Peter M. about that very problem on this list
year and he basically downplayed the importance of the visuals to the
presentation he was citing. The excuse being that the researcher was
not a visual designer.

There's no excuse for bad presentations or poor visual communication in
anything related to a field that has to do with design.

The solution is not tools. The solution is to require and demand better
work out of everyone you know, starting with own which you can control
100%.

Andrei

25 Jan 2005 - 5:37am
Marcin Wichary
2004

> Actually, in one of those rare times that this happens, the new
> PowerPoint
> in Office 2004 for the Mac has a "show" mode, that let's the presenter
> see
> notes, the slide your showing and the slide coming up. It's pretty
> handy
> actually and I understand it will be in the new version of Office for
> Windows this year.

PowerPoint XP and 2000 for Windows already had something like that.
When you decoupled (un-mirrored) both displays in Windows, you had a
chance of viewing slides on the overhead display, and a regular
interface (with notes, etc.) on your LCD. Same goes for Keynote.

As far as I know, Keynote 2 [1] and Office 2004 [2] for Mac have the
"show" mode ("presenter tools"), which, as you said, takes this idea
even further.

[1] http://www.apple.com/iwork/keynote/presenter.html
[2]
http://www.microsoft.com/mac/products/powerpoint2004/
powerpoint2004.aspx?pid=highlights

Still, this feature on its own won't exactly make you a good presenter.
If you practiced, you shouldn't be needing either the notes, nor the
preview of the next slide. I find the timer useful, though, especially
if you allow questions during the whole course of presentation. Beats
looking at your watch or wall clock, which rarely goes unnoticeable.

Marcin Wichary
e:\> mwichary at usability.pl
w:\> www.aci.com.pl/mwichary >> Attached
w:\> www.aci.com.pl/mwichary/gui >> Graphical User Interface gallery
w:\> www.10yearsofbeingboring.com >> 10 years of Being Boring
w:\> www.usability.pl >> Usability.pl

25 Jan 2005 - 8:22am
Josh Evnin
2005

Hello all,

Jean-Marc Dubois wrote:
"But to build a good presentation you need some knowledge (designing
presentation slides is a specialized knowledge of book magazine paper
design, with some knowledge of how a
presentation "works": a little of oral communication and of video knowledge)."

Does anyone on this list know of a good way to attain this knowledge?
I'm a student in the IxD field, and have wrestled much with this
topic. I know that my presentation skills can use improvement (the
case for many people), and that tools like PowerPoint can help with
that, if used correctly. Does anyone know of any good books that
cover the design of effective presentations? How about design of
documents in general?

Thanks, and I look forward to more interaction after months and months
of lurking ;-).

-Josh Evnin

25 Jan 2005 - 10:02am
Steve Mulder
2004

More details on "Presenter View" in PowerPoint for Windows:
http://michaelhyatt.blogs.com/workingsmart/2005/01/powerpoints_pre.html

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Steve Mulder
Senior Consultant, User Experience
Molecular.
617.218.6633
smulder at molecular.com

-----Original Message-----
From:
discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesign
ers.com] On Behalf Of Marcin Wichary
Sent: Tuesday, January 25, 2005 5:37 AM
To: discuss-interactiondesigners.com at lists.interactiondesigners.com
Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] Powerpoint vs. "regular" slides

[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
material.]

> Actually, in one of those rare times that this happens, the new
> PowerPoint in Office 2004 for the Mac has a "show" mode, that let's
> the presenter see notes, the slide your showing and the slide coming
> up. It's pretty handy actually and I understand it will be in the new

> version of Office for Windows this year.

PowerPoint XP and 2000 for Windows already had something like that.
When you decoupled (un-mirrored) both displays in Windows, you had a
chance of viewing slides on the overhead display, and a regular
interface (with notes, etc.) on your LCD. Same goes for Keynote.

As far as I know, Keynote 2 [1] and Office 2004 [2] for Mac have the
"show" mode ("presenter tools"), which, as you said, takes this idea
even further.

[1] http://www.apple.com/iwork/keynote/presenter.html
[2]
http://www.microsoft.com/mac/products/powerpoint2004/
powerpoint2004.aspx?pid=highlights

Still, this feature on its own won't exactly make you a good presenter.

If you practiced, you shouldn't be needing either the notes, nor the
preview of the next slide. I find the timer useful, though, especially
if you allow questions during the whole course of presentation. Beats
looking at your watch or wall clock, which rarely goes unnoticeable.

Marcin Wichary
e:\> mwichary at usability.pl
w:\> www.aci.com.pl/mwichary >> Attached w:\>
www.aci.com.pl/mwichary/gui >> Graphical User Interface gallery w:\>
www.10yearsofbeingboring.com >> 10 years of Being Boring w:\>
www.usability.pl >> Usability.pl

_______________________________________________
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discuss at ixdg.org
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to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
http://discuss.ixdg.org/
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Questions: lists at ixdg.org
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Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements
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--
http://ixdg.org/

25 Jan 2005 - 10:08am
Alain D. M. G. ...
2003

--- Andrei Herasimchuk <andrei at involutionstudios.com> a écrit :

>
> What if people just picked up a pen or pencil and actually just wrote

> down their presentation first? You know, write it out in long hand,
> draw sketches, attack ideas at the core which is largely an exercise
> in
> thinking, not making lists in slide programs.

If their penmanship is good, fine. Otherwise they might just as well
write it in Word or Wordpad (which is what I use because it is so
stable and non intrusive) or some other handy text editor and after
that cut and paste to PowerPoint as needed.

> I try to avoid sitting down at the computer as the first thing I do
> with any design work. I get out a pad and a pen or pencil and I
> sketch.
> No matter how sophisticated the computer gets, it's not a replacement
>
> for drawing or sketching or writing with my hands. Ideas and
> communication happen in you, not in the computer.

Then by your logic you should abandon the pad, the pen and the pencil
and trace your thoughts on the sand and/or scratch them out on a piece
of wood with your knife because, though you might not know it, the pad,
the pen and the pencil represent extremely sophisticated technologies
which were finally brought to their "summit" in the 19th century.

What you are saying is that you have attained your maximum proficiency
in self expression by using these particular technological tools.
Others have done so with other tools. I know persons who are at the
nadir of expressing themselves when they write in emacs or vi or some
other text editor. I reach the top of my graphic self-expression
whenever I use that dumb little Paint program that comes in the
"accessories" section on every Windows computer because, for the life
of me, I just can't do freehand sketching with pen or pencil.

The PowerPoint "problem" is not a purely tech one but a social one
involving market pressures and educational styles in some particular
cultures.

Alain Vaillancourt

__________________________________________________________
Lèche-vitrine ou lèche-écran ?
magasinage.yahoo.ca

25 Jan 2005 - 10:46am
Josh Seiden
2003

> We have the tools to create good visual
> communication. Plenty of them.
> The problem is not the lack of tools or
> the sophistication of the
> tools.

I don't disagree with your main point--that better
thinking and better thinking process is a significant
requirement. That said, it's pretty reductive to say
that visual presentation tools can't be improved.

> I try to avoid sitting down at the computer
> as the first thing I do
> with any design work. I get out a pad and
> a pen or pencil and I sketch.

I try to avoid stealing other people's bikes. I'm
still in favor of bike locks. One of the key tenets of
UCD is the idea that you create tools to support and
improve the way people actually work. Today, people do
their presentation authoring in PowerPoint. We can
preach all we want to--we're not going to change that.

> No matter how sophisticated the computer gets,
> it's not a replacement for drawing or sketching
> or writing with my hands. Ideas and
> communication happen in you, not in the computer.
> Not in a database and certainly not as an
> automated or semi-automated system designed
> to help you make better presentations.

Actually, I've always felt that ideas and
communication happen when you engage with them. People
engage with ideas in many different ways. Sometimes, I
do it without any material support--good thinking is a
frequent benefit of my running routine--and sometimes
I engage with ideas by using tools. Good thinking
often happens when I draw, or when I write. Word
processors are sufficiently overhead-free to enable my
flow. Most computer drawing tools are not.

I don't think it's inherently impossible to create
good computer tools that enable good thinking. Call me
an optimist. New tools enable new behaviors. We like
the tools that promote good new behaviors--so let's
try to create some.

JS

25 Jan 2005 - 10:47am
Jean-Marc Dubois
2005

Hello,

I think "The non-designer's design book" by Robin Williams is a good start.

Jean-Marc Dubois

25 Jan 2005 - 11:16am
Robert Reimann
2003

> But maybe that's just me.

Maybe it is. There are certainly very talented designers
out there who intuit/internalize a lot of what personas
formalize. However, when you are working with a team
of people, and/or the force of your presence isn't sufficient
to carry the day, personas also act as a useful consensus
building tool. They also provide a documentation trail
of decision-making that can be used to defend design
against stakeholder whim (as well as put real stakeholder
needs in proper context), and provide a means of measuring
design success at many points along the process.

I'd also suggest that personas which are "full of non-essential...
little details" are also barking up the wrong tree. By necessity
of narrative, personas contain some non-essential details, but
the vast majority of information contained in a persona should
be relevant, sharply focused, and derived directly from actual
observed behavior patterns of multiple individuals.

Robert.

-----Original Message-----
From:
discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.
com] On Behalf Of Andrei Herasimchuk
Sent: Monday, January 24, 2005 3:54 PM
To: 'IxD' Discussion
Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] Powerpoint vs. "regular" slides

[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]

Lada Gorlenko wrote:

> On the one hand, we (collectively, as a class of professionals) move
> more and more towards "presentation-style" communication [here I mean
> quick-and-dirty (or quick-and-pretty if you wish) minimalist style of
> communication, not necessarily just PP].

That's a pretty big assumption. I know I certainly don't. In fact, last
time I gave bullet-list, quick-n-dirty presentation was when forced to
for an exec meeting at Adobe about three years ago. The last one I gave
before that was maybe four years prior to that.

In fact, I find it takes me quite longer to put together a presentation
when forced to cram everything into bulleted-slides. Not only is the
presentation worse, it extends the pain in making it and presenting it.

> On the other hand, we more
> and more embrace and defend the benefits of personas, which represent
> exactly the opposite communication style: narrative, in prose, full of
> non-essential (but cosy and helpful for defining the right context)
> little details.

Sidetrack: I almost tacked-on to my message about Tufte's position on
slideware that personas are doing to designers what bullet-lists did to
business speakers.

I still have yet to be shown any design process or end-product that used
personas that a) created a dramatically more effective end-result as a
direct result of personas, b) took less time than without creating
personas, or c) offered new insights on how to solve design problems
through direct use of personas.

The only use I have found for personas is to make product managers or
process-wonks happy. I have to yet to find any work I have done where
using personas has significantly made my design work or process better.

But maybe that's just me.

Andrei

25 Jan 2005 - 1:56pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Jan 25, 2005, at 8:16 AM, Reimann, Robert wrote:

> However, when you are working with a team
> of people, and/or the force of your presence isn't sufficient
> to carry the day, personas also act as a useful consensus
> building tool.

In what regard? Does a persona dictate what the designer(s) should
decide? In what regard does a persona stop design by committee? In what
regard does a persona steer you the correct direction?

Like anything in this craft, research and data discovered within the
work of creating something like a persona certainly can inform a
designer's work. But that's all. In that context, there are a thousand
good ways to get data on users and I tend to find personas the least
useful. As opposed say to going to conferences aimed at certain types
of customers, meeting people for lunch or visiting them in their office
or home and watching them work. On the list of things that give me the
best research, data and context for my design, personas is near the
bottom of the list if at all.

Research simply informs design. It does nothing else. It doesn't drive
decisions, it doesn't build consensus. It's in the background, waiting
for a designer to use it properly. The only thing that builds consensus
and correct design decision making are good designers.

> They also provide a documentation trail
> of decision-making that can be used to defend design
> against stakeholder whim (as well as put real stakeholder
> needs in proper context), and provide a means of measuring
> design success at many points along the process.

A documentation trail for what? Personas at best are one or two sheet
write-ups done early in a project that never get modified except for
when people change their mind on who their target audience is. And how
do you measure success? Does the persona whisper in your ear, "You're
doing it the wrong way. Besides, I like blue, remember?"

At the end of the day, designers make decisions based on a myriad of
variables. Measuring success comes at the hand of someone using and
enjoying what you created. A persona can never tell you that. All
you'll get from a persona is an interpretation by the original team on
what that person might want, and whether you're doing it in way they
can use or not. I can do that without a sheet of paper looking like
some casting call with some stock photo headshot on it.

> I'd also suggest that personas which are "full of non-essential...
> little details" are also barking up the wrong tree. By necessity
> of narrative, personas contain some non-essential details, but
> the vast majority of information contained in a persona should
> be relevant, sharply focused, and derived directly from actual
> observed behavior patterns of multiple individuals.

I'd agree. The issue here, Robert, is that I think too many people have
taken the ideas around "persona" and bastardized them. Industrial
designers have long created data and documents to record all sorts of
things about the people they are designing products for, useful
information. That sort of thing is fine. However you want to formalize
that data is fine, and that I have no qualm with. I'm all for research
and data. One can never have enough when designing.

However, the strategy of writing personas, giving them fake histories,
putting fake headshots on them, etc. All of that has become busy-work,
and the benefits are negligible. A single sheet of simple
characteristics and traits of users written out is what I need. I don't
need a sheet stating "Soccer Mom" with a bunch of useless personal
history on it and the photo of some woman whom I'll never meet nor ever
get to know.

Andrei

25 Jan 2005 - 2:51pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Jan 25, 2005, at 7:46 AM, Josh Seiden wrote:

> I don't disagree with your main point--that better
> thinking and better thinking process is a significant
> requirement. That said, it's pretty reductive to say
> that visual presentation tools can't be improved.

I'm not sure where I said that. I said we have tools to create great
visual communication. Nowhere did I mention anything about improving
the current lot or not.

> I try to avoid stealing other people's bikes. I'm
> still in favor of bike locks. One of the key tenets of
> UCD is the idea that you create tools to support and
> improve the way people actually work.

I won't get into too much in this aspect of the thread, but UCD quite
frankly isn't all that people make it out to be. In fact, I have a
large number of issues with it and the way it is attempting to dictate
certain design processes.

At some point, you have to acknowledge that creating tools the "way
people actually work" is only one third of the solution. You have to
factor what technology can and cannot do and what makes the most
practical business sense. Then toss in a dose of vision to help on the
innovation front. Further, with regard to technology, there are aspects
of it that simply require people to change in order to use it.
(Examples: the car, airplanes, computers, telephones, even my favorite
dead-horse the iPod.) If that happens successfully, then people change
the technology back reshaping it and evolving it. It becomes a cycle
feeding itself, completely intertwined.

Part of building better tools is in part making sure you don't cross
the line and pander to people. There are some things people need to
learn how to do, and there's nothing wrong with asking them to meet you
halfway on certain design decisions. I'm not suggesting you are saying
that, but I have seen far too many people cross that line in this
field.

> Today, people do
> their presentation authoring in PowerPoint. We can
> preach all we want to--we're not going to change that.

I thought you said you were an optimist? You said so below.

> Good thinking
> often happens when I draw, or when I write. Word
> processors are sufficiently overhead-free to enable my
> flow. Most computer drawing tools are not.

I don't necessarily disagree. But it's going to be years, probably long
after you and I are dead or at least when we are very old, when
computers will have the power, resolution and sophistication of the
results you get from using charcoal or a paintbrush in your hand. The
issues that need to be solved to make drawing on the computer as
elegant as using a pencil and a sketchpad are quite numerous. It's
obviously not impossible, but we have a ways to go.

That doesn't circumvent the problem that people need to learn how to
communicate given the best set of tools they have today. Since we are a
ways off from more evolved drawing tools, sit down and sketch it out
first. As for word processors, go ahead and use them, but turn off all
the bullets, fancy typesetting, etc. Just write in a stream of words.
That's the issue there.

> I don't think it's inherently impossible to create
> good computer tools that enable good thinking.

That's where we disagree. I just ask people to think. I don't see the
need to create some gadget or software in the hopes of getting people
to think better. Just ask them to think better! Require them to do so.
Do you ever call into question faulty thinking in business meetings? If
not, why not? Stop letting people get away with it. You see bad
presentations and crappy illustrations from fellow IxDers? Call them on
it and tell them to stop it.

IMHO, the tool should be for is realizing a vision, not helping to
create that vision.

> New tools enable new behaviors. We like
> the tools that promote good new behaviors--so let's
> try to create some.

Tools don't control people, people control tools. If a tool ever
attempts to "promote" some "good behavior" on me, I stop using it. Why
on earth would I want some mindless object promoting anything to me?
What tends to happen is you get the designer of the object "promoting"
whatever the behavior you speak of. That's a slippery slope, where
based on the skills and intentions of the designer, the end product can
try and be helpful but winds up being damaging.

As is the case with PowerPoint.

Andrei

25 Jan 2005 - 3:06pm
Dan Saffer
2003

On Jan 25, 2005, at 1:56 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

> On the list of things that give me the best research, data and context
> for my design, personas is near the bottom of the list if at all.
>

You are mistaken if you think personas are research. They are models
based on research.

> Research simply informs design.

"Simply?"

> It doesn't drive decisions, it doesn't build consensus. It's in the
> background, waiting for a designer to use it properly. The only thing
> that builds consensus and correct design decision making are good
> designers.

True, just as data itself doesn't make a case for anything. But the
models built off the research data (by designers and/or user
researchers) should help designers make informed decisions and build
consensus. Personas are one such model (of many).

>
> A single sheet of simple characteristics and traits of users written
> out is what I need. I don't need a sheet stating "Soccer Mom" with a
> bunch of useless personal history on it and the photo of some woman
> whom I'll never meet nor ever get to know.
>

As someone who champions visual design, I'm surprised you don't want a
visual cue Andrei. A picture is worth a thousand words after all. And
who says you can't use a real research subject's picture for your
persona?

Dan

Dan Saffer
M. Design Candidate, Interaction Design
Carnegie Mellon University
http://www.odannyboy.com

25 Jan 2005 - 3:28pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Jan 25, 2005, at 12:06 PM, Dan Saffer wrote:

> You are mistaken if you think personas are research. They are models
> based on research.

They are part of the research process. That was my larger point.

>> Research simply informs design.
>
> "Simply?"

Yes. Research simply informs design. It's like music. You practice
scales. You study music theory. You practice playing the instrument
until you don't have to think about the mechanicals aspect anymore. You
learn all the rules and get really good. Then when you sit down and
play, you break the rules at the right moment to create great music.

Research is the practice in design. It simply informs the process. In
the design phase however, a good designer will know when to ignore
research and head down a new path that in the end creates something
wonderful that no amount of research would have been able to predict,
measure or dictate.

> True, just as data itself doesn't make a case for anything. But the
> models built off the research data (by designers and/or user
> researchers) should help designers make informed decisions and build
> consensus. Personas are one such model (of many).

I agree they can be a model that helps if done effectively. However, my
experience shows that is not the case in practice. Largely due to the
nature of how they are researched and created, and then further
compounded by people's need to "personalize" them.

> As someone who champions visual design, I'm surprised you don't want a
> visual cue Andrei. A picture is worth a thousand words after all.

I don't want a visual or verbal cue when that cue might have the
possibility of clouding my ability to solve a design problem. When
someone says "Soccer Mom" to me, all sorts of possibilities are
immediately cut-off in my brain due to my biases and experience around
what "Soccer Mom" means. Attach a photo to that to label and you've cut
me off further from probably more than 90% of the design possibilities
I could come up with to solve a problem that might be better but don't
fit the mold of "Soccer Mom."

> And who says you can't use a real research subject's picture for your
> persona?

Now you've just nuked 99% of the design possibilities as I will focus
on a specific person, even if that person I hand picked for my own
personal research.

And FWIW, good typography and clean color systems is just as much
championing visual design as adding photos. Some of the best visual
work out there is a single color, with a single word in a great
typeface. And nothing more.

Andrei

25 Jan 2005 - 3:46pm
Dave Malouf
2005

On 1/25/05 3:28 PM, "Andrei Herasimchuk" <andrei at involutionstudios.com>
wrote:

> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>
> On Jan 25, 2005, at 12:06 PM, Dan Saffer wrote:
>
>> You are mistaken if you think personas are research. They are models
>> based on research.
>
> They are part of the research process. That was my larger point.
>
>>> Research simply informs design.
>>
>> "Simply?"
>
> Yes. Research simply informs design. It's like music. You practice
> scales. You study music theory. You practice playing the instrument
> until you don't have to think about the mechanicals aspect anymore. You
> learn all the rules and get really good. Then when you sit down and
> play, you break the rules at the right moment to create great music.

I tend to agree with Andrei on this one.
My drawing professor put it this way ...
There is craft ... Muscle control
There is theory ... Information used to inform decisions
Then there is knowing what presents right ... I would call the ability to
evaluate the application of your decisions.

In the drawing class it was our ability to know the difference between a 3D
cube and one that wasn't. What defined what a cube was and what are the
boundaries for how to do it, and then finally being able to actually draw a
"g-d damn!" straight line.

Music and design have the same elements to them.
There are elements that inform
Elements that form
And elements that evaluate

These element have UX equivalents, but for this discussion it is fair to say
that research and modeling (as different from prototyping) are both
informative tools.

-- dave

25 Jan 2005 - 3:58pm
Robert Reimann
2003

Andrei H. wrote:

>> However, when you are working with a team
>> of people, and/or the force of your presence isn't sufficient to carry
>> the day, personas also act as a useful consensus building tool.

> In what regard? Does a persona dictate what the designer(s) should
> decide? In what regard does a persona stop design by committee? In what
> regard does a persona steer you the correct direction?

Andrei, please read what I said. Personas are, as you say, a tool
among others in the designer's toolkit, not a magic bullet. And like
all tools, they can be used and misused.

> Like anything in this craft, research and data discovered within the
> work of creating something like a persona certainly can inform a
> designer's work. But that's all. In that context, there are a thousand
> good ways to get data on users and I tend to find personas the least
> useful. As opposed say to going to conferences aimed at certain types
> of customers, meeting people for lunch or visiting them in their office
> or home and watching them work.

Personas are an end point to the sort of research process you describe,
a communication tool that helps make sense of such data, both to designers
and stakeholders. Perhaps the most valuable aspect for designers is that
they are forced (if they are doing it right) to explicitly state the most
important goals of different user populations for a product, divided
along behavioral patterns. This also makes them the starting point in the
design process.

> And how do you measure success? Does the persona whisper in your ear,
"You're
> doing it the wrong way.

If you're using them well, they do. Metaphorically, of course.
Personas are nearly useless (as you've noted) if they aren't created
by designers (based on research they've participated in), and used
throughout the design ideation / iteration process.

> The issue here, Robert, is that I think too many people have
> taken the ideas around "persona" and bastardized them.

We've discussed this before. It's true that many people are misusing
personas. But many people are also misusing scissors, and this doesn't
make them any less useful.

> A single sheet of simple characteristics and traits of users written
> out is what I need. I don't need a sheet stating "Soccer Mom" with a
> bunch of useless personal history on it and the photo of some woman
> whom I'll never meet nor ever get to know.

Don't forget goals! Also, if a photo is chosen with care, it does
help, I have personally found, to imagine and drive consensus on
the scenarios of use that ultimately result in the design.

Robert.
---

Robert Reimann
Manager, User Interface Design

Bose Corporation
The Mountain
Framingham, MA 01701

25 Jan 2005 - 5:58pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

Reimann, Robert wrote:

> Personas are an end point to the sort of research process you describe,
> a communication tool that helps make sense of such data, both to designers
> and stakeholders.

I realize that I wasn't being clear enough in my discussion. I was
taking a shortcut.

The issue then becomes, as a template, are personas useful to the field
or craft of interface and software design? Personas are just one way to
communicate a set of notes and research, but is that method becoming
more of a distraction and a hindrance to designers?

I can think of at least ten other things I would want myself and my
designers to spend time doing than writing personas.

> Perhaps the most valuable aspect for designers is that
> they are forced (if they are doing it right) to explicitly state the most
> important goals of different user populations for a product, divided
> along behavioral patterns.

If that is the best use for personas, then someone might want to
re-think how they are written or used in practice. Most personas I see
these days are filled with all sorts of useless information, sounding
more like a combination between a marketing demographic study and a
screenwriter's crib notes for backstories on characters in a novel.

> This also makes them the starting point in the
> design process.

I'm not sure why its necessary to have the completion of a set of
personas be the transition point from research into design, as implied
by "starting point." I also don't see them as the best place to start in
any design process. I tend to find my best starting point is what the
technology can and cannot do, giving me a framing point before I even
bother worrying about people think they want.

> If you're using them well, they do. Metaphorically, of course.

I guess we'll just have to disagree on that. The best way to find out if
you are doing things correctly is through usage with real people. Pure
and simple. No sheet of paper will ever change that.

Further, my experience of seeing people measure against a persona is one
of watching people make their own interpretations to validate their own
decisions. People do that, both correctly and incorrectly, regardless if
a persona exists or not.

> Personas are nearly useless (as you've noted) if they aren't created
> by designers (based on research they've participated in), and used
> throughout the design ideation / iteration process.

How are they supposed to be used then? And especially through the
iteration process? I have never used a persona to iterate. I use people
to do that. Both real customers, engineers, family, execs, whomever I
can steal time from. How would I iterate a design using what should be a
static sheet of paper with data points on it that doesn't change through
the design process?

Again, you keep bringing up a sheet of paper as a tool that you
seemingly engage actively with. A sheet of paper is a sheet of paper. It
can be a set of notes or fancier set of notes with a photo on it. It's
still a sheet of paper. It's nothing more than context.

> We've discussed this before. It's true that many people are misusing
> personas. But many people are also misusing scissors, and this doesn't
> make them any less useful.

When people misuse scissors, they tend to hurt themselves and stop doing
it. When people misuse personas, they are hurting me by getting people
who hire me (i.e., execs) to think that these bastardize methods of
writing simple research notes is the path towards "good design" when
they largely tend to be busy work.

> Don't forget goals!

I would never do that. 8^)

> Also, if a photo is chosen with care, it does
> help, I have personally found, to imagine and drive consensus on
> the scenarios of use that ultimately result in the design.

How on earth does a photo drive consensus or determine how a scenario
will play out? How does a photo on a set of notes result in those
correct design decisions? Shouldn't good design drive consensus?

Some times you say things Robert that have me thinking I'm being too
critical of the issue, then you say something like this that has me
wondering I'm not being critical enough.

Andrei

25 Jan 2005 - 6:25pm
Robert Reimann
2003

Andrei wrote:

> How on earth does a photo drive consensus or determine how a scenario
> will play out? How does a photo on a set of notes result in those
> correct design decisions? Shouldn't good design drive consensus?

I said *help* drive consensus. Good design is based on good design
decisions, and good design decisions are based on a good understanding
of user and context. Personas as research/modeling tool help distill
user behavior patterns and motivations into a unfied gestalt. Personas
as *design* tool make use of this information to define and refine
program/artifact behaviors that best reflect the goals and behaviors
defined in the persona. The method of doing so is a scenario-based
approach almost akin to method acting the role of the persona. I know
you and I have had this conversation before, right here in this forum,
so I'll leave it at that.

The point is: photos can, if very wisely chosen, lend verisimilitude
to the persona, and help both make the case for the persona to the
stakeholders rhetorically, and provide (not wholly conscious) additional,
focused, creative inspiration for the designer.

As far as bringing in people to iterate your design, there's nothing
wrong with that as long as you're sure a) they represent your target
user(s) and b) you can separate idiosyncratic behaviors from the behavior
patterns you're really trying to address. Personas provide assistance
with these problems.

Robert.

-----Original Message-----
From:
discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.
com] On Behalf Of Andrei Herasimchuk
Sent: Tuesday, January 25, 2005 5:59 PM
To: 'IxD' Discussion
Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] Powerpoint vs. "regular" slides

[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]

Reimann, Robert wrote:

> Personas are an end point to the sort of research process you
> describe, a communication tool that helps make sense of such data,
> both to designers and stakeholders.

I realize that I wasn't being clear enough in my discussion. I was
taking a shortcut.

The issue then becomes, as a template, are personas useful to the field
or craft of interface and software design? Personas are just one way to
communicate a set of notes and research, but is that method becoming
more of a distraction and a hindrance to designers?

I can think of at least ten other things I would want myself and my
designers to spend time doing than writing personas.

> Perhaps the most valuable aspect for designers is that
> they are forced (if they are doing it right) to explicitly state the
> most important goals of different user populations for a product,
> divided along behavioral patterns.

If that is the best use for personas, then someone might want to
re-think how they are written or used in practice. Most personas I see
these days are filled with all sorts of useless information, sounding
more like a combination between a marketing demographic study and a
screenwriter's crib notes for backstories on characters in a novel.

> This also makes them the starting point in the
> design process.

I'm not sure why its necessary to have the completion of a set of
personas be the transition point from research into design, as implied
by "starting point." I also don't see them as the best place to start in
any design process. I tend to find my best starting point is what the
technology can and cannot do, giving me a framing point before I even
bother worrying about people think they want.

> If you're using them well, they do. Metaphorically, of course.

I guess we'll just have to disagree on that. The best way to find out if
you are doing things correctly is through usage with real people. Pure
and simple. No sheet of paper will ever change that.

Further, my experience of seeing people measure against a persona is one
of watching people make their own interpretations to validate their own
decisions. People do that, both correctly and incorrectly, regardless if
a persona exists or not.

> Personas are nearly useless (as you've noted) if they aren't created
> by designers (based on research they've participated in), and used
> throughout the design ideation / iteration process.

How are they supposed to be used then? And especially through the
iteration process? I have never used a persona to iterate. I use people
to do that. Both real customers, engineers, family, execs, whomever I
can steal time from. How would I iterate a design using what should be a
static sheet of paper with data points on it that doesn't change through
the design process?

Again, you keep bringing up a sheet of paper as a tool that you
seemingly engage actively with. A sheet of paper is a sheet of paper. It
can be a set of notes or fancier set of notes with a photo on it. It's
still a sheet of paper. It's nothing more than context.

> We've discussed this before. It's true that many people are misusing
> personas. But many people are also misusing scissors, and this doesn't
> make them any less useful.

When people misuse scissors, they tend to hurt themselves and stop doing
it. When people misuse personas, they are hurting me by getting people
who hire me (i.e., execs) to think that these bastardize methods of
writing simple research notes is the path towards "good design" when
they largely tend to be busy work.

> Don't forget goals!

I would never do that. 8^)

> Also, if a photo is chosen with care, it does
> help, I have personally found, to imagine and drive consensus on
> the scenarios of use that ultimately result in the design.

How on earth does a photo drive consensus or determine how a scenario
will play out? How does a photo on a set of notes result in those
correct design decisions? Shouldn't good design drive consensus?

Some times you say things Robert that have me thinking I'm being too
critical of the issue, then you say something like this that has me
wondering I'm not being critical enough.

Andrei
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25 Jan 2005 - 6:34pm
Dave Malouf
2005

This discussion is feeling a bit circular to me.

I think all tools, methods, etc. are personal choices. If they don't work
for you, then don't use them. There is no one way to skin a cat or design
software. Robert has found and documented in lots of detail for everyone to
read (if they want to purchase) Goal-Directed Design with the work he has
done w/ Alan Cooper and others at Cooper over the years.

Personas while one of the more defining aspects of all this is not
Goal-Directed Design. Robert has been kind not to bibliograph drop, but
About Face 2.0 is available for all to read and enjoy and if you don't like
that Alan's "The Inmates Are Running the Asylum" is still pretty good,
though not very detailed. If you are REALLY interested in this stuff, I
suggest you take the courses that they teach in SF ... Go to Cooper.com for
more info.

Andrei, what would interest me more instead of trying to keep poking holes
in the whole Persona thing, is to elaborate on your design process.

How do you convert field data into models? What do those models look like?
How do you take those models and use them to further inform design?

Or we could go back to the original thread about Powerpoint vs. Other
methods of presentation. I.E. isn't 90% of a presentation the person, the
speaking and the content and these can be structured by software, but the
presentation of that structure is still embedded primarily in the human
being? How can we make better human presenters?

<not speaking as admin, just interested in taking this thread in a more
productive direction />

-- dave

26 Jan 2005 - 7:15am
Ulla Tønner
2004

Robert wrote:

> Personas are nearly useless [...] if they aren't created
> by designers (based on research they've participated in), and used
> throughout the design ideation / iteration process.

Robert, what do you meen when you say "designers"? Are you saying that the personas are worth nothing, if the researcher is the one doing the research, model the persona and communicate the persona - and then pass it on to the designer.

Do personas only work, in your opinion, if he same person is doing the research, the modeling *and* the design?

Ulla
Usability Consultant, Denmark

26 Jan 2005 - 8:34pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Jan 25, 2005, at 3:34 PM, David Heller wrote:

> Andrei, what would interest me more instead of trying to keep poking
> holes
> in the whole Persona thing, is to elaborate on your design process.
> How do you convert field data into models? What do those models look
> like?
> How do you take those models and use them to further inform design?

My design deliverables tends to be different for every project. I
prefer to follow a set of deliverables that best suits the data I want
to communicate. That data is different for every project so far. Same
way with my presentations, I don't automatically sit down and use
PowerPoint to build a presentation. I build a presentation based on
thinking about the content, what I want to say and how I want to say
it. Same goes for every project I work on. I prefer to create documents
that I think best communicates the design and the thinking that went
into it.

I'll be honest and say that I tend to dislike deliverables whose
purpose seem to be "driving consensus." I find very little innovation
or creativity in team exercises aimed at creating consensus for design
decisions. I fully understand that due to corporate politics some
amount of consensus driving is required, but I see no need in fueling
that monster that tends to lead down the path of committee-based
design. No offense to those who came up with the idea of personas and
their use, but I'm finding more and more that this "design tool" is
becoming a contributing factor to design by committee and largely
busy-work for designers due in part to the nature of the deliverable
itself. Maybe people are using it effectively, but until I see some
well-designed, successful shipping products built using this sort of
process or design tool, I'm just not sold on them.

The only thing I would say is consistent in my process is my use of
prototypes. And when I say that, I mean as fully formed prototypes as
possible. If screenshots, that means images and drawings that are
realistic and accurate as much as possible given the point in time of
the project. I currently have been employing Flash as a means to get
prototypes more robust. In the past, I used Director. (One of my
biggest mistakes in my opinion was being convinced I didn't need to
make prototypes while at Adobe due to lack of time in the schedule.
That was easily the worst management decision I made, as prototypes are
the lifeblood of product designers.) I rarely use "paper prototypes"
for anything outside the internal product team for feedback, as I find
end users or even other company employees tend to lack the imagination
required to get the feedback I need from the prototypes. Further, I
find little use for low-fidelity prototypes except for my own work in
thinking through a problem.

Basically, my process involves doing a lot of hands-on research, and
then building something over and over and over until I run out of time.
In my case, that is a combination of lots of screenshots, notes on
various states of drawings and these days getting interactive
prototypes built that actually behave as close as I can get to the real
deal without wasting too much time on code that won't ever ship or see
the light of day.

I find that prototypes do all my work for me. When done properly, they
communicate the design (for obvious reasons), put all the issues out in
the open in front of engineers, execs and end users, and allow me to
iterate over and over to evolve a design solution.

Andrei

27 Jan 2005 - 10:06am
Robert Reimann
2003

Hi Ulla,

I believe that for personas to serve well as design tools, the
people doing the design need to participate directly in
(generative) research and modeling. At Cooper, designers do
all three, and I am following a similar model at Bose.

The most powerful tool (IMO) at the designer's disposal is empathy.
Personas work as a shorthand for recalling real observations
and the motivations behind them. I think it's quite important
for designers to experience that connection with actual users
first-hand, so that empathy with them is engaged. The personas
themselves act as a filter and an amplifier, allowing designers
to focus on only the most salient user behaviors, motivations,
and needs.

Robert.

-----Original Message-----
From:
discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.
com] On Behalf Of Ulla Tønner
Sent: Wednesday, January 26, 2005 7:15 AM
To: 'IxD' Discussion
Subject: RE: [ID Discuss] Powerpoint vs. "regular" slides

[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]

Robert wrote:

> Personas are nearly useless [...] if they aren't created
> by designers (based on research they've participated in), and used
> throughout the design ideation / iteration process.

Robert, what do you meen when you say "designers"? Are you saying that the
personas are worth nothing, if the researcher is the one doing the research,
model the persona and communicate the persona - and then pass it on to the
designer.

Do personas only work, in your opinion, if he same person is doing the
research, the modeling *and* the design?

Ulla
Usability Consultant, Denmark

28 Jan 2005 - 7:05am
Andrei Sedelnikov
2004

Andrei,

Your description looks to me like a "design process for an individual".
While not wanting to paint it either negative or positive, my experience
tells me that "design process" is usually a team work, isn't it?

On Wed, 26 Jan 2005 17:34:10 -0800, Andrei Herasimchuk
<andrei at involutionstudios.com> wrote:
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>
> On Jan 25, 2005, at 3:34 PM, David Heller wrote:
>
> > Andrei, what would interest me more instead of trying to keep poking
> > holes
> > in the whole Persona thing, is to elaborate on your design process.
> > How do you convert field data into models? What do those models look
> > like?
> > How do you take those models and use them to further inform design?
>
> My design deliverables tends to be different for every project. I
> prefer to follow a set of deliverables that best suits the data I want
> to communicate. That data is different for every project so far. Same
> way with my presentations, I don't automatically sit down and use
> PowerPoint to build a presentation. I build a presentation based on
> thinking about the content, what I want to say and how I want to say
> it. Same goes for every project I work on. I prefer to create documents
> that I think best communicates the design and the thinking that went
> into it.
>
> I'll be honest and say that I tend to dislike deliverables whose
> purpose seem to be "driving consensus." I find very little innovation
> or creativity in team exercises aimed at creating consensus for design
> decisions. I fully understand that due to corporate politics some
> amount of consensus driving is required, but I see no need in fueling
> that monster that tends to lead down the path of committee-based
> design. No offense to those who came up with the idea of personas and
> their use, but I'm finding more and more that this "design tool" is
> becoming a contributing factor to design by committee and largely
> busy-work for designers due in part to the nature of the deliverable
> itself. Maybe people are using it effectively, but until I see some
> well-designed, successful shipping products built using this sort of
> process or design tool, I'm just not sold on them.
>
> The only thing I would say is consistent in my process is my use of
> prototypes. And when I say that, I mean as fully formed prototypes as
> possible. If screenshots, that means images and drawings that are
> realistic and accurate as much as possible given the point in time of
> the project. I currently have been employing Flash as a means to get
> prototypes more robust. In the past, I used Director. (One of my
> biggest mistakes in my opinion was being convinced I didn't need to
> make prototypes while at Adobe due to lack of time in the schedule.
> That was easily the worst management decision I made, as prototypes are
> the lifeblood of product designers.) I rarely use "paper prototypes"
> for anything outside the internal product team for feedback, as I find
> end users or even other company employees tend to lack the imagination
> required to get the feedback I need from the prototypes. Further, I
> find little use for low-fidelity prototypes except for my own work in
> thinking through a problem.
>
> Basically, my process involves doing a lot of hands-on research, and
> then building something over and over and over until I run out of time.
> In my case, that is a combination of lots of screenshots, notes on
> various states of drawings and these days getting interactive
> prototypes built that actually behave as close as I can get to the real
> deal without wasting too much time on code that won't ever ship or see
> the light of day.
>
> I find that prototypes do all my work for me. When done properly, they
> communicate the design (for obvious reasons), put all the issues out in
> the open in front of engineers, execs and end users, and allow me to
> iterate over and over to evolve a design solution.
>
> Andrei
>
> _______________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Group!
> To post to this list ... discuss at ixdg.org
> Subscription Options (+ unsubscribe) ... http://discuss.ixdg.org/
> Announcements List ..... http://subscribe-announce.ixdg.org/
> Questions .............. lists at ixdg.org
> Home ................... http://ixdg.org/
>

--
Andrei Sedelnikov
http://usabilist.de/en

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