Saturday, September 29, 2007

Ten Steps to User Personas

Steps for creating personas ...

"Having worked with personas before the method ever came to be known as personas there are, from my research and practical experience, three important areas that have to be considered: the data material, engagement in the personas descriptions, and buy-in from the organization which is part of the development process whether it is redesign or a development from scratch. This is the rationale behind my development of 10 steps to personas, an attempt to cover the entire process from initial data gathering to ongoing development.

In the following I will briefly outline the 10 steps. Any project that uses personas does not necessarily need to follow all 10 steps as long as the responsible party knows the consequences of skipping a step.

Step 1: Finding the Users
The initial step is to get hold of as much knowledge of the users as possible. The data can originate from several sources: interviews, observations, second hand information, questionnaires, reports, cultural probes etc. In my experience large companies have often a lot of information about the users, reports from marketing, call centers etc. these can in some extend substitute real life meetings with users, but they also create problems as they do not focus on the subject that the project is about. This might become visible in the next step.

Step 2: Building a Hypothesis
Working with personas is focusing on users in a certain context which originates from the project. Often companies have a certain way of talking about their users that does not take into consideration the different context the users might be in when using a website or a system. In a recent project for a national Danish authority concerning redesign of a web portal business reports to different governmental authorities, the national authority had a tradition for dividing Danish businesses into categories of size and trades. From interviews with staff in the call center and reading of several a hypothesis was formed.

The former division of businesses did not make sense in this project, as it does not matter which trade the one who has to do the reporting is in, what matters it seemed is how big the company is, and whether the persons who reports is employed within the company or a consultant of some sort. There had been a number of surveys performed, but none of these had this division in mind and had to be reread from the new perspective.

In 'Verification' the focus is on finding data that supports the initial patterns and at the same time supports the personas descriptions and the scenario writing. The persona method requires a certain kind of information that can help generate engagement in the descriptions and support scenario writing e.g. what does the users like ad dislike, what are their values, what are their attitudes towards the system/site, in what conditions will they use the system/site? When these data are collected do they then support or go against the initial data."    (Continued via HCI Vistas)    [Usability Resources]

See site for full-size image of persona chart. - Usability, User Interface Design

See site for full-size image of persona chart.

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