Sunday, April 29, 2007

Personas and Storytelling

Using personas to tell the story ...

"Personas work because they tell stories. Stories are part of every community. They communicate culture, organize and transmit information. Most importantly, they spark the imagination as you explore new ideas. They can ignite action.

Like many people in usability or user experience, this is a second career. I started as a theatrical lighting designer, working in dance, theatre and even the occasional opera. Instead of wireframes, I worked with cue sheets, I programmed lighting boards instead of web sites, but most of all, I was part of creating a story. For an hour or two, our goal was to create an experience that would leave the audience just a little bit changed.

Then, I started working on an early hypertext program, and left theatre behind. I went from a forty foot wide stage, to a fourteen inch wide screen.

One of my frustrations with user profiles was that they were often mostly lists of demographic data. It was hard to see how to use this information to make good design decisions. What do we really learn about users when we know that the average user for the product we are designing is:

• Aged 30-45
• Well educated
• 45% are married with children
• Use the web 3-5 times a week
• 65% use search engines

What if, instead, we learned about a prototypical user, Elizabeth. She is 35 years old, married to Joe, has a 5 year-old son, Mike. She attended State College and manages her class alumni site. She uses Google as her home page, and last used the web to find the name of a local official. It's the same information, but given some specificity and context. We can begin to think about Elizabeth as a real person, someone we can design for.

That's the heart of a persona. There are lots of formats and guidelines for doing the analysis to create them. We can argue about whether a picture is important or not, and how many personal details are needed to make a good portrait. But the germ of the idea is that personas bring users into the design team and make them as real and compelling as the technical details and our own design concepts."    (Continued via Whitney Interactive Design)    [Usability Resources]

A Prototypical User - Usability, User Interface Design

A Prototypical User


Post a Comment

<< Home

<< Home