Category Archives: Personas/Scenarios

The User Is Always Right: A Practical Guide to Creating and Using Personas

“How do we ensure that our Web sites actually give users what they need? What are the best ways to understand our users’ goals, behaviors, and attitudes, and then turn that understanding into business results? Personas bring user research to life and make it actionable, ensuring we’re making the right decisions based on the right information. This practical guide explains how to create and use personas to make your site more successful.”

Personas 99% Bad?

“Over the last few days, I\'ve taken part in (and facilitated parts of) an intense workshop meant to define the user experience of a new product. In the room we had representatives from pretty much the entire team — software engineers, hardware engineers, industrial designers, interaction designers, marketing, brand, and even the CEO.

At the end of the first day, we found ourselves a little unmoored — even though we had talked about our presumed users (this project is to launch a brand new product into the market, so there are no existing users), the discussion was nebulous. We needed an anchor.

So on the morning of the second day we dove into a discussion of personas…”

Taking personas too far

“I don’t have to tell you that at Cooper, we love personas—how could we not?—and we’re glad to see continued excitement about them. That said, although personas are essential design tools, we think some people may be losing sight of the fact that they’re just tools, and tools with a specific purpose, at that. Lately, we’ve been seeing a lot of gold-plated hammers—unnecessarily elaborate communication about personas—and some fundamental misunderstandings about the relationships among research, personas, and scenarios.”

The Persona Lifecycle: Keeping People in Mind Throughout Product Design

Book review: “The standard waterfall development model is extended by adding new phases at the beginning and end, then integrating ‘life process’ terms for a richer development cycle; i.e., conception, gestation, birth, maturation, adulthood, and retirement. The last five (of twelve) chapters are invited contributions from well-known systems designers and developers, including Larry Constantine and Jonathan Grudin. Embellished by voluminous examples and illustrations (contributed by the second author’s father), also included are case studies, lessons learned, good ideas, and practical details shared by persona practitioners from a variety of industries.” (Thanks InfoDesign!)

Why is it so Hard to Make Products that People Love?

“Business people don’t sit in their offices wondering how they can make a product uglier, and designers don’t want to create products that won’t sell. Everybody (usually) wants to do the right thing for the company, the products and the customers. So why do so many good designs get trampled during the product development process?”

Persona Non Grata

“Ever since Alan Cooper’s 1999 book ‘The Inmates are Running The Asylum’ was published, everyone is mad for personas. They’ve permeated the highest and deepest levels of organizations, and have become a standard interaction design tool. Whole projects are now built around creating them, and there’s a feeling that once you get a half dozen or so, your design problems will be solved. Presumably, your personas solve them for you.”

Three Important Benefits of Personas

“Next time you have a chance to watch someone reading a map, look for the first thing they do. They’ll likely do the exact same thing everyone else does: find themselves on the map. It doesn’t matter what kind of map it is, whether it’s of their neighborhood or an amusement park. They’ll open the map and find something that is personally meaningful, such as their house or their favorite roller coaster. Psychologists call this ‘grounding’ — the natural behavior of initially finding a known reference point in a foreign information space. Once the person has grounded themselves, they can then use the starting point to understand the rest of the space. While grounding helps people adjust to complex situations, it can be detrimental when it happens during the design process. If, while conjuring up an interface, designers ground themselves in the design, they run the serious risk of creating an interface that only they can use.”

Personas: Empathetic Focus

“The purpose of the Persona, I believe, is to add empathetic focus to the design. Empathetic focus. By focus I mean that the design must be clean and coherent. It is not a collection of features added willy-nilly through the life-span of the product, even if each feature by itself makes sense. Rather it is having a clear image of what the product is meant to be ó and what it is not meant to be ó and rejecting features that do not fit, only accepting ones that do.”