[Inspired by the two threads, particularly, by recent Robert
Has anyone got any data/observations/stories on how the persona method
works in different cultures?
I have none. However, my gut feeling (based on years of research in
cross-cultural communication) tells me that there should be
> 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.
Once again, this tells me that personas are not about *content*, but
about *form* - a form of presenting user research data (functional and
usability requirements; context definition; potentially, user metaphors
and a high-level outline of a cognitive model). The same data can be
presented in other forms, such as specifications, tables, object models,
flow diagrams, and so on. So, if I am not mistaken, personas are a
human-friendly way to present user research data. Correct?
I don't know who coined the method, but I'll give my job up and become
a nun if I am wrong: it was a person with either American or
Scandinavian cultural heritage. The concept of presenting sharp data
that feed technical (design) solution through a personal story just
screams out loudly about its cultural load.
Russia (and most post-Soviet states), Germany, India, and many other
nations are technocratic cultures. They are societies that value
technical expertise above any other expertise. You can easily spot
them: degrees in "humanities" are regarded as no-brainers and,
therefore, are not highly respected; there is no such thing as "soft
skills" on a resume; a cabinet Health Minister is a qualified medical
doctor; a proper textbook has five formulas on the second page or
half-page long paragraphs thtoughout. And so on.
Decision-makers in those cultures like complexity. A diagram
beats a narrative story. A heavy report beats a bullet-point
presentation. If you want to impress someone, you show how damn
difficult your work is, *not* how seemingly easy and intuitive the
final result appears. You don't make things particularly easy,
otherwise it looks like everyone else can do them.
I painted it in dense colours for the sake of argument. Hopefully,
you've got the right mood behind my concerns:
1. Personas are a heavily culture-loaded technique and should be
treated as such;
2. With all their benefits in mind, personas may not work universally,
because in some cultures seemingly complex things may be preferred
over seemingly simple things;
3. All tools of our trade (especially those working with qualitative
information) have to be considered for their cultural applicability,
before being preached as universal.