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Re: [agile-usability] Re: Personas

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  • 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 1 of 23 , Jul 26, 2007
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      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 2 of 23 , Jul 26, 2007
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        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 3 of 23 , Jul 26, 2007
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          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 4 of 23 , Jul 27, 2007
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            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 5 of 23 , Jul 31, 2007
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              "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 6 of 23 , Jul 31, 2007
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                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 7 of 23 , Aug 1, 2007
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                  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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