Tuesday, April 28, 2009

User Research for Personas and Other Audience Models

On audience models and communicating results ...

"This is not going to be an article about personas or even what distinguishes a good persona from a bad one. Instead, this article is about the ingredients we can draw on when creating audience models and some alternative ways of communicating the results of an audience analysis.

First, however, let me briefly discuss what we generally mean when we talk about personas and the role they play in the design and development process.
A Very Brief Introduction to Personas

Personas are archetypal representations of audience segments, or user types, which describe user characteristics that lead to different collections of needs and behaviors. We build up each archetype where the characteristics of users overlap.

According to Alan Cooper, author of About Face 3.0 with Robert Riemann and David Cronin, “The persona is a powerful, multipurpose design tool that helps overcome several problems that currently plague the development of digital products. Personas help designers:

* Determine what a product should do and how it should behave.
* Communicate with stakeholders, developers, and other designers.
* Build consensus and commitment to the design.
* Measure the design’s effectiveness.
* Contribute to other product-related efforts such as marketing and sales plans.”

But where do we start looking for the data we need to build up these useful archetypes.
Research Methods

Several research methods can provide data upon which we can build user archetypes, including

* surveys
* ethnographic research
* interviews
* contextual inquiries
* Web analytics"    (Continued via UXmatters, Steve Baty)    [Usability Resources]

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