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Re: [agile-usability] Personas

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  • marc mcneill
    Hi Jeff, Personas can be of tremendous value in helping the whole team remember who they are building the application for. As you suggest, they are a useful
    Message 1 of 23 , Jul 25, 2007
      Hi Jeff,

      Personas can be of tremendous value in helping the whole team remember who they are building the application for.  As you suggest, they are a useful point of reference - 'the way we are thinking of implementing this feature... would it make sense to "Jane"?'.  When you don't have personas it is easy for the design to start to reflect the developer / business view of the interaction rather than that of the end user.  ...and if you are going to use personas you need to make sure that they are "alive".  It is not enough to just have them documented and assume people will relate to them.  They need to be blown up on the walls, clearly visible, with "Jane" smiling down on the team, or maybe a large cardboard cut out...

      <marc>

      http://www.dancingmango.com/blog



      On 7/25/07, White, Jeff <jeff.white@...> wrote:

       

      My team is tossing around the idea of incorporating personas into our normal set of deliverables. I'm curious to hear other's experience with personas in an agile context.

       

      My past experience with personas is that they are most valuable for educating stakeholders (mostly marketing) and upper management about who our customers really are, and as a defensive mechanism to defend design decisions. Development teams never used them. Admittedly, this could be because I failed to properly sell their value to developers and make sure they're readily accessible.

       

      I'm in an environment now where educating stakeholders and management is not an issue. The purpose I want personas to potentially serve is to bring the customer alive to the engineering team coding products, help them develop empathy for our users and have them constantly refer to the personas as a decision making aid.

       

      So, what's your experience been with personas? What feedback have engineers given you about them? Are they valuable? Are there potential benefits of using personas that I'm simply missing? Any feedback appreciated!

       

      Thanks,

      Jeff

       

       

       




      --
      http://www.dancingmango.com/blog/
    • Brian Weiss
      So far, the developers I ve worked with don t seem to care much about gaining empathy for the end-user. Not to say I haven t tried. To some degree they care,
      Message 2 of 23 , Jul 25, 2007
        So far, the developers I've worked with don't seem to care much about gaining empathy for the end-user. Not to say I haven't tried. To some degree they care, but they push it off (half-jokingly) that it's my "job to care". I tend to agree with them somewhat as giving them freedom to make end-user decisions hasn't abated obvious no-nos.
         
        To them "Commit error 412. Servlet ODBC cannot find hex 1000:X90d" is a perfectly good end-user error. Another good one is they see no problem in having pop-up dialogs that stop the user dead in a flow to confirm the submission was good. (Like the app is congratulating the user for figuring out how to hit the submit button). They debug code all day...dialogs are second nature to them.
         
        Anyway, personas can take up alot of time to develop for complicated sites or apps. Being the only UE guy here, I'd rather use my time elsewhere.
         
        -Brian


        "White, Jeff" <jeff.white@...> wrote:
        My team is tossing around the idea of incorporating personas into our normal set of deliverables. I'm curious to hear other's experience with personas in an agile context.
        My past experience with personas is that they are most valuable for educating stakeholders (mostly marketing) and upper management about who our customers really are, and as a defensive mechanism to defend design decisions. Development teams never used them. Admittedly, this could be because I failed to properly sell their value to developers and make sure they're readily accessible.
        I'm in an environment now where educating stakeholders and management is not an issue. The purpose I want personas to potentially serve is to bring the customer alive to the engineering team coding products, help them develop empathy for our users and have them constantly refer to the personas as a decision making aid.
        So, what's your experience been with personas? What feedback have engineers given you about them? Are they valuable? Are there potential benefits of using personas that I'm simply missing? Any feedback appreciated!
        Thanks,
        Jeff


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      • Adrian Howard
        ... [snip] Is this on an agile team? Adrian
        Message 3 of 23 , Jul 25, 2007
          On 25 Jul 2007, at 15:14, Brian Weiss wrote:

          > So far, the developers I've worked with don't seem to care much
          > about gaining empathy for the end-user. Not to say I haven't tried.
          > To some degree they care, but they push it off (half-jokingly) that
          > it's my "job to care". I tend to agree with them somewhat as giving
          > them freedom to make end-user decisions hasn't abated obvious no-nos.
          [snip]

          Is this on an agile team?

          Adrian
        • Brian Weiss
          Sort of. We have a modified RUP/Agile process where use cases are still king but there are plenty of opportunities for face-to-face for the group and the
          Message 4 of 23 , Jul 25, 2007
            Sort of. We have a modified RUP/Agile process where use cases are still king but there are plenty of opportunities for face-to-face for the group and the artifacts developed are less than a full blown RUP.
             
            RUP, Agile, Waterfall, XP... done it all and developers still have *their context of what is a good end-user experience to contend with. Empathy won't get them to be able drop that context to look thru the user's eyes. I've yet to see one case where a DBA or a Java person can effectively drive a front-end decision because he/she understands the context or persona using the app. And besides, they just don't care that much nor should they regardless of methodology.
             
            I'd like to clarify that I didn't mean personas have no value but in the select case where they are being used for development staff empathy - I personally would spend my time elsewhere. Benefit vs. resource consumption. A good set of wireframes set in context for the group (i.e. talking about the end user thru the flow) has as much impact to the developers as would talking to personas.
             
            As for buy in/defense from a marketing stakeholder I've used them with moderate success. Maybe they aren't my forte, but they seem great in theory...in practice, less so.
             
            If I had a team, maybe there would be the opportunity for me to work them in more.
             
            Just my $.02
            -Brian


            Adrian Howard <adrianh@...> wrote:

            On 25 Jul 2007, at 15:14, Brian Weiss wrote:

            > So far, the developers I've worked with don't seem to care much
            > about gaining empathy for the end-user. Not to say I haven't tried.
            > To some degree they care, but they push it off (half-jokingly) that
            > it's my "job to care". I tend to agree with them somewhat as giving
            > them freedom to make end-user decisions hasn't abated obvious no-nos.
            [snip]

            Is this on an agile team?

            Adrian


            Pinpoint customers who are looking for what you sell.

          • Desilets, Alain
            ... the select case where they are being used for ... elsewhere. Benefit vs. resource consumption. A ... about the end user thru the flow) has as much impact
            Message 5 of 23 , Jul 25, 2007
               >  I'd like to clarify that I didn't mean personas have no value but in the select case where they are being used for  
              >  development staff empathy - I personally would spend my time elsewhere. Benefit vs. resource consumption. A  
              > good set of wireframes set in context for the group (i.e. talking about the end user thru the flow) has as much impact  
              > to the developers as would talking to personas.  
               
              Have you tried showing them a videotape of an end user struggling to carry out a task using this product or a previous product built by the same team?
               
              Alain
            • Brian Weiss
              Yes, several times and that has been highly successful for marketing myself internally and ensuring good usability practices are enforced as well as help me
              Message 6 of 23 , Jul 25, 2007
                Yes, several times and that has been highly successful for marketing myself internally and ensuring good usability practices are enforced as well as help me drive UCD home. I continue to make videos or capture sessions some other way to show the teams. Help me with the leap to persona creation though. To me, they are distinct deliverables.
                 
                IMO, user testing and feedback are critical to the success of a project where as (even with marketing people) personas are "nice to haves".
                 
                In the case of this thread, I don't believe the people I work with would be able to code a stored procedure better knowing that the input came from a woman who has 1 year of college and enjoys cooking. And making them sit in a meeting discussing this would not further my cause with them and might even undermine it as it would waste their time with what they will perceive as "fluff".
                 
                That meeting might help elsewhere and for other teams perhaps and if you have the bandwidth I say go for it and test it out. Look at it like this is user testing the dev staff.
                 
                -Brian


                "Desilets, Alain" <alain.desilets@...> wrote:
                 >  I'd like to clarify that I didn't mean personas have no value but in the select case where they are being used for  
                >  development staff empathy - I personally would spend my time elsewhere. Benefit vs. resource consumption. A  
                > good set of wireframes set in context for the group (i.e. talking about the end user thru the flow) has as much impact  
                > to the developers as would talking to personas.  
                 
                Have you tried showing them a videotape of an end user struggling to carry out a task using this product or a previous product built by the same team?
                 
                Alain


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              • Desilets, Alain
                ... You were asking about developing empathy for the end user. I think it s a lot easier to develop empathy for a persona (i.e. a model of an actual person or
                Message 7 of 23 , Jul 25, 2007
                  > In the case of this thread, I don't believe the people I work with would be able to
                  > code a stored procedure better knowing that the input came from a woman who has 1 year of
                  > college and enjoys cooking. And making them sit in a meeting discussing this would not
                  > further my cause with them and might even undermine it as it would waste their time with
                  > what they will perceive as "fluff".

                  You were asking about developing empathy for the end user. I think it's a lot easier to develop empathy for a persona (i.e. a model of an actual person or list of people) than to develop empathy for some abstract generic "user".

                  Earlier, you mentioned that members of your team believes that an error message like: "Commit error 412. Servlet ODBC cannot find hex 1000:X90d" is perfectly acceptable. If you have a list of key personaes for the system, you can ask them "How do you think the following people will feel when they see an error message like that? What do you think they will do in response to it?".

                  You seem to think that developing personaes and presenting them to your developers is time consuming. While certin people spend a lot of time developing their personaes, in my experience, a person with good knowledge of the user population and domain can generate a reasonable list in a day. And if each personae fits on a single page, surely, it wouldn't take more than an hour to present them to the team.


                  ----
                  Alain Désilets, MASc
                  Agent de recherches/Research Officer
                  Institut de technologie de l'information du CNRC /
                  NRC Institute for Information Technology

                  alain.desilets@...
                  Tél/Tel (613) 990-2813
                  Facsimile/télécopieur: (613) 952-7151

                  Conseil national de recherches Canada, M50, 1200 chemin Montréal,
                  Ottawa (Ontario) K1A 0R6
                  National Research Council Canada, M50, 1200 Montreal Rd., Ottawa, ON
                  K1A 0R6

                  Gouvernement du Canada | Government of Canada
                • William Pietri
                  ... That matches my experience so far. From what I ve seen, developers respond better to either abstract roles or real-world data. My theory is that since they
                  Message 8 of 23 , Jul 25, 2007
                    White, Jeff wrote:
                    >
                    > My past experience with personas is that they are most valuable for
                    > educating stakeholders (mostly marketing) and upper management about
                    > who our customers really are, and as a defensive mechanism to defend
                    > design decisions. Development teams never used them. Admittedly, this
                    > could be because I failed to properly sell their value to developers
                    > and make sure they're readily accessible.
                    >
                    >
                    >

                    That matches my experience so far.

                    From what I've seen, developers respond better to either abstract roles
                    or real-world data. My theory is that since they aren't so
                    people-oriented, the fictional people of personas don't do much for them.

                    As far as the real-world data goes, I've seen numerical data (like from
                    A/B testing, site statistics, and usability studies) be pretty
                    effective. I've also had good luck with real experiences, presented
                    either from user feedback or taken from user testing.

                    When I'm trying to get a team engaged on usability issues, the way I
                    generally approach it is trying to engage their desire to solve
                    problems, or their desire to optimize things. Even if they don't
                    personally care about usability, that's ok. They also don't care about
                    getting goats, cabbages, and foxes across streams, but they'll spend
                    hours trying to solve puzzles like that.

                    William
                  • Brian Weiss
                    Again, I m just one guy for an entire organization that does 100% of all its own apps - internal and external. And the teams we have are already stressed with
                    Message 9 of 23 , Jul 25, 2007
                      Again, I'm just one guy for an entire organization that does 100% of all its own apps - internal and external. And the teams we have are already stressed with projects, probably like everyone else. Time is a luxury and resources are tight. An hour meeting on personae or refering to them consistently from meeting to meeting, for me, isn't an effective use of that time.
                       
                      To your point, (which is a valid one) I don't feel I need to have a documented persona to drive home the fact that a user error or a flow issue, etc. isn't user friendly or intuitive. I can send an email when reviewing a prototype or show them a user who has a trouble via captured user session. And after a few times of me correcting them to use plain english in errors, etc., they get it.
                       
                      It's also my role to correct the usability issues - which is maybe where my company deviates from the theoretical use of Agile and is closer to RUP (the use of roles that is). In theory, the Agile team is supposed to expand beyond the typical role based practices. In theory, Waterfall process - no changes in are supposed to happen until the next iterative cycle. In practice, as far as I've seen, neither is true. Try telling a client that they can't change requirements on system that is supposed to deliver 18 months from now because "we're doing waterfall development." :) And getting a Java guy to consider usability when making a servlet just doesn't happen much either.
                       
                      For us anyway, the presentation of personae to devs will not likely happen any time soon and I would not recommend do so to someone in a similar circumstance as mine. The value isn't there.
                       
                      -Brian
                       


                      "Desilets, Alain" <alain.desilets@...> wrote:
                      > In the case of this thread, I don't believe the people I work with would be able to
                      > code a stored procedure better knowing that the input came from a woman who has 1 year of
                      > college and enjoys cooking. And making them sit in a meeting discussing this would not
                      > further my cause with them and might even undermine it as it would waste their time with
                      > what they will perceive as "fluff".

                      You were asking about developing empathy for the end user. I think it's a lot easier to develop empathy for a persona (i.e. a model of an actual person or list of people) than to develop empathy for some abstract generic "user".

                      Earlier, you mentioned that members of your team believes that an error message like: "Commit error 412. Servlet ODBC cannot find hex 1000:X90d" is perfectly acceptable. If you have a list of key personaes for the system, you can ask them "How do you think the following people will feel when they see an error message like that? What do you think they will do in response to it?".

                      You seem to think that developing personaes and presenting them to your developers is time consuming. While certin people spend a lot of time developing their personaes, in my experience, a person with good knowledge of the user population and domain can generate a reasonable list in a day. And if each personae fits on a single page, surely, it wouldn't take more than an hour to present them to the team.

                      ----
                      Alain Désilets, MASc
                      Agent de recherches/Research Officer
                      Institut de technologie de l'information du CNRC /
                      NRC Institute for Information Technology

                      alain.desilets@ nrc-cnrc. gc.ca
                      Tél/Tel (613) 990-2813
                      Facsimile/télé copieur: (613) 952-7151

                      Conseil national de recherches Canada, M50, 1200 chemin Montréal,
                      Ottawa (Ontario) K1A 0R6
                      National Research Council Canada, M50, 1200 Montreal Rd., Ottawa, ON
                      K1A 0R6

                      Gouvernement du Canada | Government of Canada



                      Building a website is a piece of cake.
                      Yahoo! Small Business gives you all the tools to get online.

                    • Jim Kauffman
                      Brian, You may need to use some UML-speak to get through to the developers. As in: The actor in this use case is the claims recorder, whom we ve referred to
                      Message 10 of 23 , Jul 25, 2007
                        Brian,
                         
                        You may need to use some UML-speak to get through to the developers. As in: "The actor in this use case is the claims recorder, whom we've referred to as "Dave". If you remember, Dave's job is heads-down data entry and he's more comfortable with a keyboard than a mouse." The persona info is still there and can be referenced, even if the developers won't reference it themselves.
                         
                        Jim K.
                      • William Pietri
                        Hi, Brian. I m curious about the context for your statement below: ... Do you have a product manager or other person acting as the representative of the
                        Message 11 of 23 , Jul 25, 2007
                          Hi, Brian. I'm curious about the context for your statement below:

                          Brian Weiss wrote:
                          > In theory, the Agile team is supposed to expand beyond the typical
                          > role based practices [...] In practice, as far as I've seen, neither
                          > is true. [...] And getting a Java guy to consider usability when
                          > making a servlet just doesn't happen much either.

                          Do you have a product manager or other person acting as the
                          representative of the business and the end users in the same room as the
                          Java guy? And by "in the same room" I mean close enough that one can
                          easily get the other's attention without getting up?

                          Do they have a daily stand-up meeting together? Does the engineer show
                          progress at least daily? Are their iterations no more than two weeks
                          long, and hopefully less?

                          Knowledge and habits are both contagious. But there has to be a path for
                          transmission. From what I've seen, this requires shared goals and
                          frequent interaction. I think places that graft agile practices onto
                          existing organizational structures can easily miss out on the results
                          that I see when you start fresh.

                          William
                        • Elizabeth Whitworth
                          ... project where as (even with marketing people) personas are nice to haves . Aren t personas a form of user feedback? Personas are based on real world
                          Message 12 of 23 , Jul 25, 2007
                            >IMO, user testing and feedback are critical to the success of a
                            project where as (even with marketing people) personas are "nice to haves".
                            Aren't personas a form of user feedback? Personas are based on real world people with real world problems, and their experiences, objectives, and opinions are the feedback that you are giving to developers.

                            >In the case of this thread, I don't believe the people I work with
                            would be able to code a stored procedure better knowing that the input came >from a woman who has 1 year of college and enjoys cooking.
                            From what I have found online, most of the persona examples out there are made for e-commerce or lifestyle products that really do need that kind of "1 year of college and enjoys cooking" information. Those personas, to me, are more helpful for designers/product managers than for developers. If you application is more practical (less 'designy'?)  and you are writing for a developer audience, then  I would strongly suggest altering the persona formula a little e.g. leave out a lot (but not all) of the personal details, and include instead more details about daily workflow, common problems, tech usage and set-up, and working context.

                            I also think that it doesn't make much sense to present personas to development without some associated usage scenarios that go into more detail about specific user workflow and associated needs . This brings the personas a lot closer to the software that the developers are/will be working on. If there is a problem of optimization in the users workflow, then you can show it to the developers using usage scenarios, and in my experience at least some of them will happily play with the problem, and probably come up with some good ideas too.

                            I relatively new with practical application of personas, but I have got a lot of positive feedback from developers who I had written off as head-in-the-sand coder types.

                             - liz



                            On 7/25/07, Brian Weiss <briandweiss@...> wrote:

                            Yes, several times and that has been highly successful for marketing myself internally and ensuring good usability practices are enforced as well as help me drive UCD home. I continue to make videos or capture sessions some other way to show the teams. Help me with the leap to persona creation though. To me, they are distinct deliverables.
                             
                            IMO, user testing and feedback are critical to the success of a project where as (even with marketing people) personas are "nice to haves".
                             
                            In the case of this thread, I don't believe the people I work with would be able to code a stored procedure better knowing that the input came from a woman who has 1 year of college and enjoys cooking. And making them sit in a meeting discussing this would not further my cause with them and might even undermine it as it would waste their time with what they will perceive as "fluff".
                             
                            That meeting might help elsewhere and for other teams perhaps and if you have the bandwidth I say go for it and test it out. Look at it like this is user testing the dev staff.
                             
                            -Brian


                            "Desilets, Alain" <alain.desilets@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca> wrote:
                             >  I'd like to clarify that I didn't mean personas have no value but in the select case where they are being used for  
                            >  development staff empathy - I personally would spend my time elsewhere. Benefit vs. resource consumption. A   
                            > good set of wireframes set in context for the group ( i.e. talking about the end user thru the flow) has as much impact  
                            >  to the developers as would talking to personas.  
                             
                            Have you tried showing them a videotape of an end user struggling to carry out a task using this product or a previous product built by the same team?
                             
                            Alain


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                          • Ron Vutpakdi
                            ... details, ... problems, tech ... more detail ... I agree completely. I like personas and having them can be very helpful, but only if they provide useful
                            Message 13 of 23 , Jul 26, 2007
                              --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, "Elizabeth Whitworth"
                              <elizabethwhitworth@...> wrote:
                              >
                              > [...] and you are writing for a
                              > developer audience, then I would strongly suggest altering the persona
                              > formula a little e.g. leave out a lot (but not all) of the personal
                              details,
                              > and include instead more details about daily workflow, common
                              problems, tech
                              > usage and set-up, and working context.
                              >
                              > I also think that it doesn't make much sense to present personas to
                              > development without some associated usage scenarios that go into
                              more detail
                              > about specific user workflow and associated needs .

                              I agree completely. I like personas and having them can be very
                              helpful, but only if they provide useful information and context. If
                              the personas are just a "think of the user" flag full of fluff without
                              providing information that the developer sees as useful, they are
                              likely to be ignored.

                              We're currently trying to bring back personas after a rather
                              disastrous earlier attempt. The earlier attempt was disastrous
                              because personas and storyboards were oversold and executed poorly.
                              As a result, when the personas and storyboards under-delivered, they
                              were discredited as a useful tool.

                              What I'm hoping that we'll do this time is develop them only as far as
                              they are useful tools with helpful information and firmly ground them
                              in practical usage scenarios. I'm hoping that we also under-promise
                              them a bit as just a tool and not a general panacea. That way, we
                              have a good chance of over-delivering.

                              Ron
                            • Mark Schraad
                              I think it is important to develop the persona fully to the detail level. However, that being said, there is an advantage to leaving out those details when
                              Message 14 of 23 , Jul 26, 2007
                                I think it is important to develop the persona fully to the detail level. However, that being said, there is an advantage to leaving out those details when presenting them as targets to specific groups. That they are archetypes for a group of users with either common tasks, goals or desired product attributes can be very powerful. If your audience has a tendency to 'design for self', very specific personae can easily dismissed.

                                Mark


                                On Thursday, July 26, 2007, at 08:50AM, "Ron Vutpakdi" <vutpakdi@...> wrote:
                                >--- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, "Elizabeth Whitworth"
                                ><elizabethwhitworth@...> wrote:
                                >>
                                >> [...] and you are writing for a
                                >> developer audience, then I would strongly suggest altering the persona
                                >> formula a little e.g. leave out a lot (but not all) of the personal
                                >details,
                                >> and include instead more details about daily workflow, common
                                >problems, tech
                                >> usage and set-up, and working context.
                                >>
                                >> I also think that it doesn't make much sense to present personas to
                                >> development without some associated usage scenarios that go into
                                >more detail
                                >> about specific user workflow and associated needs .
                                >
                                >I agree completely. I like personas and having them can be very
                                >helpful, but only if they provide useful information and context. If
                                >the personas are just a "think of the user" flag full of fluff without
                                >providing information that the developer sees as useful, they are
                                >likely to be ignored.
                                >
                                >We're currently trying to bring back personas after a rather
                                >disastrous earlier attempt. The earlier attempt was disastrous
                                >because personas and storyboards were oversold and executed poorly.
                                >As a result, when the personas and storyboards under-delivered, they
                                >were discredited as a useful tool.
                                >
                                >What I'm hoping that we'll do this time is develop them only as far as
                                >they are useful tools with helpful information and firmly ground them
                                >in practical usage scenarios. I'm hoping that we also under-promise
                                >them a bit as just a tool and not a general panacea. That way, we
                                >have a good chance of over-delivering.
                                >
                                >Ron
                                >
                                >
                              • shramlet
                                If one has the luxury (or mind-numbing task, depending on your perspective) of having a UCD / UXD / UED specify all the text for all the error messages, as
                                Message 15 of 23 , Jul 26, 2007
                                  If one has the luxury (or mind-numbing task, depending on your
                                  perspective) of having a UCD / UXD / UED specify all the text for all
                                  the error messages, as well as every other intricate detail of the
                                  user experience, then personas would be less valuable to the
                                  developers since they can code to your strict specifications.

                                  If the developer is empowered (by role or resource restrictions,
                                  perhaps) to make design choices, then a persona might be a good time
                                  investment to help inform the developer's design choices.

                                  Susan Ramlet
                                  User-Centered Designer
                                  Medtronic



                                  --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, Brian Weiss <briandweiss@...>
                                  wrote:
                                  >
                                  > So far, the developers I've worked with don't seem to care much
                                  about gaining empathy for the end-user. Not to say I haven't tried. To
                                  some degree they care, but they push it off (half-jokingly) that it's
                                  my "job to care". I tend to agree with them somewhat as giving them
                                  freedom to make end-user decisions hasn't abated obvious no-nos.
                                  >
                                  > To them "Commit error 412. Servlet ODBC cannot find hex 1000:X90d"
                                  is a perfectly good end-user error. Another good one is they see no
                                  problem in having pop-up dialogs that stop the user dead in a flow to
                                  confirm the submission was good. (Like the app is congratulating the
                                  user for figuring out how to hit the submit button). They debug code
                                  all day...dialogs are second nature to them.
                                  >
                                  > Anyway, personas can take up alot of time to develop for
                                  complicated sites or apps. Being the only UE guy here, I'd rather use
                                  my time elsewhere.
                                  >
                                  > -Brian
                                  >
                                • Tim Wright
                                  Just to add something else to the discussion of Personas, I ve started using them in a different way. My company has decided to redesign it s website for
                                  Message 16 of 23 , Jul 26, 2007
                                    Just to add something else to the discussion of Personas, I've started using them in a different way. My company has decided to redesign it's website for accredited users (we give them training then they can sell our product). To get requirements, I've got all our support people (client service managers, accreditation team, consultants, ...) writing the personas and scenarios themselves.

                                    It didn't take long to teach the basic concepts (about a 2 hour focused meeting with four key personal), and the results I've been getting have been excellent and interesting! Of course, it is a mixed bag - some people can't get past the "what the site does now" versus "what our users want it do to," but a little feedback is keeping them on the right track.

                                    Of course, this is still early stages in the project, but I feel it's been an excellent requirements gathering exercise that has also got huge buy-in across the business for the project. The next stage is a card-sort (it's an information heavy website). I'm going to try to get people inside the business to do that as well - with some guidance of course.

                                    This does make me wonder: has anyone else tried to push some of the requirements gathering activities out into the business - where the people are neither technical nor designers. From my perspective, card-sorts and personas are obvious cantidates because they don't require much explanation.

                                    (I should also add that my place of work is unusual: we have a corporate culture where people are expected to focus on: achieving their goals, helping out other people, being friendly, and being themselves. This means that asking others to perform an activity where they get to be creative is always answered with gusto!)

                                    Tim

                                    On 7/27/07, shramlet <shramlet@...> wrote:

                                    If one has the luxury (or mind-numbing task, depending on your
                                    perspective) of having a UCD / UXD / UED specify all the text for all
                                    the error messages, as well as every other intricate detail of the
                                    user experience, then personas would be less valuable to the
                                    developers since they can code to your strict specifications.

                                    If the developer is empowered (by role or resource restrictions,
                                    perhaps) to make design choices, then a persona might be a good time
                                    investment to help inform the developer's design choices.

                                    Susan Ramlet
                                    User-Centered Designer
                                    Medtronic

                                    --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, Brian Weiss <briandweiss@...>
                                    wrote:
                                    >
                                    > So far, the developers I've worked with don't seem to care much
                                    about gaining empathy for the end-user. Not to say I haven't tried. To
                                    some degree they care, but they push it off (half-jokingly) that it's
                                    my "job to care". I tend to agree with them somewhat as giving them
                                    freedom to make end-user decisions hasn't abated obvious no-nos.
                                    >
                                    > To them "Commit error 412. Servlet ODBC cannot find hex 1000:X90d"
                                    is a perfectly good end-user error. Another good one is they see no
                                    problem in having pop-up dialogs that stop the user dead in a flow to
                                    confirm the submission was good. (Like the app is congratulating the
                                    user for figuring out how to hit the submit button). They debug code
                                    all day...dialogs are second nature to them.
                                    >
                                    > Anyway, personas can take up alot of time to develop for
                                    complicated sites or apps. Being the only UE guy here, I'd rather use
                                    my time elsewhere.
                                    >
                                    > -Brian
                                    >




                                    --
                                    Kei te kōrero tiki au. Kei te kōrero tiki koe. Ka kōrero tiki tāua. Kōrero ai tiki tāua.
                                  • Jeff Patton
                                    I 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
                                    Message 17 of 23 , Jul 27, 2007
                                      I'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,

                                      -Jeff
                                    • Daniel Szuc
                                      A good set of wire frames set in context for the group (i.e. talking about the end user thru the flow) has as much impact to the developers as would talking
                                      Message 18 of 23 , Jul 31, 2007
                                        "A good set of wire frames set in context for the group (i.e. talking about the end user thru the flow) has as much impact to the developers as would talking to personas."
                                         
                                        Suggest this is the right opportunity to develop Personas. So take a small % of the walkthrough time to brainstorm what we know about our users.
                                         
                                        See: http://www.apogeehk.com/articles/Personas_Focusing_on_getting_the_design_right_Part1.html and using a "walkthrough" to direct around User Goals coming from the personas crafted - http://www.uxmatters.com/MT/archives/000199.php
                                         
                                        rgds,
                                        Dan

                                        Daniel Szuc
                                        Principal Usability Consultant
                                        Apogee Usability Asia Ltd
                                        www.apogeehk.com
                                        'Usability in Asia'

                                        The Usability Kit -
                                        http://www.theusabilitykit.com



                                        From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com [mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Brian Weiss
                                        Sent: Wednesday, 25 July 2007 11:21 PM
                                        To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
                                        Subject: Re: [agile-usability] Personas

                                        Sort of. We have a modified RUP/Agile process where use cases are still king but there are plenty of opportunities for face-to-face for the group and the artifacts developed are less than a full blown RUP.
                                         
                                        RUP, Agile, Waterfall, XP... done it all and developers still have *their context of what is a good end-user experience to contend with. Empathy won't get them to be able drop that context to look thru the user's eyes. I've yet to see one case where a DBA or a Java person can effectively drive a front-end decision because he/she understands the context or persona using the app. And besides, they just don't care that much nor should they regardless of methodology.
                                         
                                        I'd like to clarify that I didn't mean personas have no value but in the select case where they are being used for development staff empathy - I personally would spend my time elsewhere. Benefit vs. resource consumption. A good set of wireframes set in context for the group (i.e. talking about the end user thru the flow) has as much impact to the developers as would talking to personas.
                                         
                                        As for buy in/defense from a marketing stakeholder I've used them with moderate success. Maybe they aren't my forte, but they seem great in theory...in practice, less so.
                                         
                                        If I had a team, maybe there would be the opportunity for me to work them in more.
                                         
                                        Just my $.02
                                        -Brian


                                        Adrian Howard <adrianh@quietstars. com> wrote:

                                        On 25 Jul 2007, at 15:14, Brian Weiss wrote:

                                        > So far, the developers I've worked with don't seem to care much
                                        > about gaining empathy for the end-user. Not to say I haven't tried.
                                        > To some degree they care, but they push it off (half-jokingly) that
                                        > it's my "job to care". I tend to agree with them somewhat as giving
                                        > them freedom to make end-user decisions hasn't abated obvious no-nos.
                                        [snip]

                                        Is this on an agile team?

                                        Adrian


                                        Pinpoint customers who are looking for what you sell.

                                      • Brian Weiss
                                        To echo the thread starter: Thanks for all the responses - I m the only usability person in a company of 10,000+ who custom builds every system and it s nice
                                        Message 19 of 23 , Jul 31, 2007
                                          To echo the thread starter: Thanks for all the responses - I'm the only usability person in a company of 10,000+ who custom builds every system and it's nice to read these threads. As I mentioned in an earlier email, we are not a true Agile shop and in fact are alot closer to a lightweight RUP shop. This listserv was closest to any speaking to usability concepts and our software development cycle out there and that's why I joined. I don't usually jump in because of that fact but wanted to add to this conversation and didn't feel the Agile process was necessarily germain. Although I've yet to see a perfect implementation of any theoretical development process...
                                           
                                          To answer several emails: I get it. I understand how to present to teams - been doing it for 10+ years. I know what personas are and how to use them.
                                           
                                          Again though, in the case originally proposed, I've yet to see a Java coder have any impact on a front end because he understands a persona using the interface. Nor has a persona helped him or her code a servlet better. The inputs are the same regardless of the who.
                                          In a development meeting with developers I would not present personas. With marketing people and other business stakeholders, sure. They can bring a nice rounded context to a wireframe.
                                           
                                          To devs I may speak of UMLish actors, but only in the context of how they interact with the system on a data level as that is all they care about.

                                          Thanks again for the responses,
                                          -Brian
                                           
                                           


                                          Daniel Szuc <dszuc@...> wrote:
                                          "A good set of wire frames set in context for the group (i.e. talking about the end user thru the flow) has as much impact to the developers as would talking to personas."
                                           
                                          Suggest this is the right opportunity to develop Personas. So take a small % of the walkthrough time to brainstorm what we know about our users.
                                           
                                           
                                          rgds,
                                          Dan
                                          Daniel Szuc
                                          Principal Usability Consultant
                                          Apogee Usability Asia Ltd
                                          www.apogeehk. com
                                          'Usability in Asia'

                                          The Usability Kit -
                                          http://www.theusabi litykit.com


                                          From: agile-usability@ yahoogroups. com [mailto:agile- usability@ yahoogroups. com] On Behalf Of Brian Weiss
                                          Sent: Wednesday, 25 July 2007 11:21 PM
                                          To: agile-usability@ yahoogroups. com
                                          Subject: Re: [agile-usability] Personas

                                          Sort of. We have a modified RUP/Agile process where use cases are still king but there are plenty of opportunities for face-to-face for the group and the artifacts developed are less than a full blown RUP.
                                           
                                          RUP, Agile, Waterfall, XP... done it all and developers still have *their context of what is a good end-user experience to contend with. Empathy won't get them to be able drop that context to look thru the user's eyes. I've yet to see one case where a DBA or a Java person can effectively drive a front-end decision because he/she understands the context or persona using the app. And besides, they just don't care that much nor should they regardless of methodology.
                                           
                                          I'd like to clarify that I didn't mean personas have no value but in the select case where they are being used for development staff empathy - I personally would spend my time elsewhere. Benefit vs. resource consumption. A good set of wireframes set in context for the group (i.e. talking about the end user thru the flow) has as much impact to the developers as would talking to personas.
                                           
                                          As for buy in/defense from a marketing stakeholder I've used them with moderate success. Maybe they aren't my forte, but they seem great in theory...in practice, less so.
                                           
                                          If I had a team, maybe there would be the opportunity for me to work them in more.
                                           
                                          Just my $.02
                                          -Brian


                                          Adrian Howard <adrianh@quietstars. com> wrote:

                                          On 25 Jul 2007, at 15:14, Brian Weiss wrote:

                                          > So far, the developers I've worked with don't seem to care much
                                          > about gaining empathy for the end-user. Not to say I haven't tried.
                                          > To some degree they care, but they push it off (half-jokingly) that
                                          > it's my "job to care". I tend to agree with them somewhat as giving
                                          > them freedom to make end-user decisions hasn't abated obvious no-nos.
                                          [snip]

                                          Is this on an agile team?

                                          Adrian


                                          Pinpoint customers who are looking for what you sell.


                                          Take the Internet to Go: Yahoo!Go puts the Internet in your pocket: mail, news, photos & more.

                                        • jawsadieemail
                                          Everyone - thanks for all the responses. Great discussion. I just wanted to follow up and (for what it s worth) let everyone know that my team has decided not
                                          Message 20 of 23 , Aug 1, 2007
                                            Everyone - thanks for all the responses. Great discussion. I just
                                            wanted to follow up and (for what it's worth) let everyone know that
                                            my team has decided not to pursue the introduction of personas at this
                                            point. We agreed with many on this list who felt the impact was low
                                            relative to the time investment. We're doing other things to bring
                                            focus to our users - such as usability test briefings and group design
                                            sessions where our design leads mentor our development staff and of
                                            course advocate for our user base.

                                            That said, I do think there is value with personas. Obviously many of
                                            you use them with good success, and they've been helpful for me in the
                                            past as well. Two main things drove our decision to not pursue them:
                                            1)The context of Agile - time/resources are scarce & 2)It seems the
                                            archetype personas are easiest to create but better for marketing and
                                            other stakeholders. More detailed personas that focus on detailed
                                            tasks & come accompanied with use cases or scenarios are better for
                                            developers (our audience in this case) but take longer to use.

                                            Thanks all,
                                            Jeff
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