- Jul 27, 2007I've enjoyed this thread!
I wanted to tie a few things together and add a couple minor points.
Alain pointed out that personas don't have to take a long time to
create, and I agree. The quick one based on what people in your
organization commonly understand about your users allow everyone to
get on the same page. These are assumption based personas as
described by Pruitt and Adlin. And, again, even a persona that lacks
the rigor a Cooperist would put into it is better than no design target.
Elizebeth and others brought up user scenarios. I'd second that - the
persona put into action reaching a goal using the product makes the
communication that much more meaningful. Try Tim's approach and have
your stakeholders or developers write scenarios - after supplying them
with a good example or two.
William and Susan talked a bit about culture. I've found that
developers care about users when doing so is part of the company's
culture. If it is, personas help. If it's not, personas can still
help - but, you need to know in the latter situation you're trying to
/change/ company culture, not merely support it. Susan in particular
talked about developers being empowered to make design decisions. In
agile contexts especially, they should be. I find it more efficient
if I don't have to think of or describe (in a user story or whatever)
every nit-picky detail about the software. It's cool when developers
who understand and are concerned about users can make decisions on
their own - then vet those decisions later of course.
Finally, after all that, the point I wanted to make was this: Someone
I worked with asked me what the made a persona good. "Relevance" I
said. By that I mean, given a persona with these characteristics, how
does it change or affect the design of the software? Look for some
clear answers that demonstrate why a characteristic of the users, as
described in the persona, is relevant to the feature choices and
design of the product.
For example: I was recently working with some folks writing software
to support research scientists. These scientists, although extremely
sharp as scientists, had computer skills that varied wildly. And, the
research tool we were building was something they'd use likely only
once a month, but for a few hours at a time.
Knowing all this allowed us to to decide that the although the users
were sophisticated technically, the software had to be pretty easy to
use. Furthermore, since they used it so infrequently, usage needed to
be obvious since they were relearning it every time. Finally, since
they used it for a couple hours when this /did/ sit down to use it,
usage needed to be efficient. We could draw dotted lines between
specific product features and these concerns that came from profiling
our target users.
That's what I mean by making the persona relevant.
Thanks for all your posts,
- << Previous post in topic Next post in topic >>