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2156Personaes and Scenarios vs User Roles and User Tasks

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  • Desilets, Alain
    Jul 11, 2006
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      Here's another one in the vein of X vs Y.

      Back in May, I faciliated a short Agile-UCD exercise à la Jeff Patton, at the Ottawa XP chapter. The exercise used the concept of a photo organizer as its focus.

      Everything went pretty well until we got to the point of establishing a span plan. There, we realized that we didn't know how to prioritize the different User Tasks, beyond the first couple obvious one. Basically, when trying to answer the question of "is task A highly useful", we found ourselves asking the question: "Useful for who?". And we found we couldn't answer that second question in terms of User Roles. The reason is that while "Jim, the enthusiastic hobby photographer" and "Martha the 70 year old grandma" might both need to act in the role of "Photo Corrector", their needs and priority in that respect are very different. Martha probably doesn't care that much if the pics don't look that good (she just wants to share pics of grandchildren with other grannys), but for Jim, that's probably high on the priority list.

      I came across a similar thing when doing Agile-UCD à la Jeff to design a multilingual wiki system. Everything went well until we got to the span plan part. There, we found what we missed was not so much personaes, as context rich Scenarios that tell a typical journey of a user through a sequence of tasks over time.

      At the XP Ottawa meeting, Robert Biddle pointed out that personaes and scenarios may be more useful in consumer electronics whereas User Roles may be more useful for corporate in-house types of software. The reason for this being that there is a lot more individual variability between users of consumer electronics than in corporate in-house software, and User Roles+User Tasks are too abstract to capture those.

      I think I agree with that statement, and I plan to apply it as follows. I will always do both Personaes+Scenarios AND User Roles+User Tasks, but devote more time to one or the other, depending on what seems most appropriate.

      Any other thoughts on this topic?
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