Thursday, October 04, 2007

How To Create Effective Personas

Tips for developing better 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, no matter whether this is a redesign or a full new 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."    (Continued via Robin Good)    [Usability Resources]

Developing Personas - Usability, User Interface Design

Developing Personas

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