Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Personas and the Advantage of Designing for Yourself

Response to Steve Portigal's post on personas ...

"Steve Portigal, whom I’ve met and whom I don’t think is insane, recently said in a presentation that “personas are user-centered bullshit”.

But he didn’t stop there. He then went on to write an article in this months ACM Interactions magazine extolling the evils of personas which is provoking quite a reaction among designers.

Portigal isn’t the only one to argue against personas. Jason Fried said recently that personas “lead to a false sense of understanding at the deepest, most critical levels.”

Each of these pieces has received a mountain of pushback from the design community, who feel that in many ways personas are the best tools for communicating design research throughout heterogeneous groups made up of designers, marketers, managers, and executives.

Peter Merholz, in describing a recent project, found personas quite valuable:

‘So on the morning of the second day we dove into a discussion of personas — those archetypal users of the product. We had three personas (Casey, Jessica, and Eric), and we talked about (and occasionally argued about) them for quite a while, until we arrived at a shared understanding of who they are, and what they would get out of the product.

This discussion proved enormously valuable — it lead to some coherence around who the product was for, and it helped focus our discussion of desired experiences, and, in turn, functional requirements. We referred to these personas for the remainder of the workshop, and they came in handy for resolving conversations that got stuck in “Well, I think…”‘

Definition, please?

But while all of this arguing is going on, nobody is really defining what personas are. This, of course, is a big part of the problem. What most definitions don’t say is that personas are a document. They might be a poster, a word file, or a PDF. But they are a document that represents an archetypical person that is passed around design teams. Ok, just wanted to make that clear."    (Continued via Bokardo)    [Usability Resources]

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