New IxD Techniques to Try in 2007

20 Dec 2006 - 12:11pm
7 years ago
57 replies
3092 reads
Dan Saffer
2003

Hi!

I'm putting together a list of new IxD methods and techniques I've
found that I want to try next year:

http://www.odannyboy.com/blog/new_archives/2006/12/new_interaction.html

Oddly enough, however, looking back over the blogs I follow, I didn't
find too many new methods this year. (Just personas, personas,
personas!)

What new methods are you going to try?

Dan

Dan Saffer, IDSA
http://www.designingforinteraction.com book | work http://
www.adaptivepath.com
http://www.noideasbutinthings.com project | site http://
www.odannyboy.com

Comments

20 Dec 2006 - 12:56pm
Nancy Broden
2005

Dan, a good list of mobile research techniques is available on Jeff Axup's site:
http://mobilecommunitydesign.com/research/comparison/mobile_research_method_review.html

Note that digital diaries, listed a "novel" technique in your post are
not, in fact, new but have been a tool used by researchers mobile
design field for some time.

As to your point about there being few new methods out there to try,
my group at Punchcut tweaks and changes the tools at hand to come up
with new techniques for many of the projects we do but it never occurs
to us to write it up and position it as New Method (tm)...

-- Nancy
--------------------------------------
nancy.broden at gmail.com

On 12/20/06, Dan Saffer <dan at odannyboy.com> wrote:

> I'm putting together a list of new IxD methods and techniques I've
> found that I want to try next year:
>
> http://www.odannyboy.com/blog/new_archives/2006/12/new_interaction.html

20 Dec 2006 - 1:07pm
Dan Saffer
2003

On Dec 20, 2006, at 9:56 AM, Nancy Broden wrote:

> Note that digital diaries, listed a "novel" technique in your post are
> not, in fact, new but have been a tool used by researchers mobile
> design field for some time.
>

I should clarify. New here means "new to me" or not commonly used.
Mostly stuff I've seen written up this past year. ("Novel" wasn't my
word btw).

> As to your point about there being few new methods out there to try,
> my group at Punchcut tweaks and changes the tools at hand to come up
> with new techniques for many of the projects we do but it never occurs
> to us to write it up and position it as New Method (tm)...

I suspect this is true of most good designers. No one does a method
quite the same way twice. I'd love to see more sharing of these
variations on established methods too, however they are positioned.

Dan

20 Dec 2006 - 3:59pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

I'm gonna try avoiding personas. Oh, wait. I'm already doing that. :)

http://www.uie.com/brainsparks/2006/12/11/uietips-article-designing-web-applications-for-use/

-r-

On 12/20/06, Dan Saffer <dan at odannyboy.com> wrote:
>
> Hi!
>
> I'm putting together a list of new IxD methods and techniques I've
> found that I want to try next year:
>
> http://www.odannyboy.com/blog/new_archives/2006/12/new_interaction.html
>
> Oddly enough, however, looking back over the blogs I follow, I didn't
> find too many new methods this year. (Just personas, personas,
> personas!)
>
> What new methods are you going to try?
>
> Dan
>
>
> Dan Saffer, IDSA
> http://www.designingforinteraction.com book | work http://
> www.adaptivepath.com
> http://www.noideasbutinthings.com project | site http://
> www.odannyboy.com
>
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
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>

20 Dec 2006 - 4:24pm
Teresa Torres
2006

I'm glad you mentioned this article. I'm working in an Agile
development environment for the first time. I've been doing a lot of
research on how UED fits in with that kind of development process.
I've been intrigued by the persona vs. user roles debate.

There is a lot that I like about user roles. They are much quicker to
develop and they help to keep the entire team focused on usage.
However, I don't agree that personas don't have their place.

We work with 2 week sprints. Our product planning (user research,
feature definition, etc) happens 2 sprints ahead of where engineers
are. Our design work happens 1 sprint ahead of where engineers are. I
find that user roles are great for doing design work when you are
only working on one piece at a time and not doing all of the design
upfront.

However, I think personas are absolutely critical for the product
planning stage. If you haven't identified a primary persona, how do
you make strategic decisions about what to build and when? How do you
decide how prominent a feature should be in the UI? How do you know
what the appropriate user roles are without doing the research you do
to develop personas? There are plenty of questions that personas can
help address that user roles aren't quite adequate for.

I suppose you could still do user research and use user roles in
place of personas. Although I rarely see this discussed with user
roles. Most places that I see user roles mentioned, the suggestion is
that your team dream up all the possible user roles in a
brainstorming session. This seems shortsighted to me. How do you know
what user roles to include or how to prioritize them without doing
user research?

I have found that personas and the user research required to develop
them are great for strategic product decisions, while user roles have
been very helpful for for giving context to your day to day work.

Teresa

On Dec 20, 2006, at 12:59 PM, Robert Hoekman, Jr. wrote:

> I'm gonna try avoiding personas. Oh, wait. I'm already doing that. :)
>
> http://www.uie.com/brainsparks/2006/12/11/uietips-article-designing-
> web-applications-for-use/
>
> -r-
>
>
> On 12/20/06, Dan Saffer <dan at odannyboy.com> wrote:
>>
>> Hi!
>>
>> I'm putting together a list of new IxD methods and techniques I've
>> found that I want to try next year:
>>
>> http://www.odannyboy.com/blog/new_archives/2006/12/
>> new_interaction.html
>>
>> Oddly enough, however, looking back over the blogs I follow, I didn't
>> find too many new methods this year. (Just personas, personas,
>> personas!)
>>
>> What new methods are you going to try?
>>
>> Dan
>>
>>
>> Dan Saffer, IDSA
>> http://www.designingforinteraction.com book | work http://
>> www.adaptivepath.com
>> http://www.noideasbutinthings.com project | site http://
>> www.odannyboy.com
>>
>>
>>
>> ________________________________________________________________
>> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
>> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
>> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
>> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
>> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
>> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
>> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
>> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
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> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>

20 Dec 2006 - 5:27pm
DanP
2006

>
> I have found that personas and the user research required to develop
> them are great for strategic product decisions, while user roles have
> been very helpful for for giving context to your day to day work.

This is a very astute observation, and shows that different methods
are appropriate based on the designer and the goal, and that at the
end of the day, experienced designers must choose. As with any design
project, whether it's software or a dome for an Italian Renaissance
church, the choice of approaches is dynamic. Certainly there are
pitfalls to spending time factoring in the behavior and wishes of
users, and conversely to boiling everything down to pure usage... I
don't think that proponents of a usage-based model support beheading
usage from it's intended owner, or that merely applying methods will
lead to a good design...

It can't be so cut and dry as to choose one method over another... if
so, there would be no art in design. The best designers I've met know
how to apply lots of approaches, iteratively, towards an end goal -
slicing them up to create hybrids, and even new methods to attack new
problems.

Reading the user vs. usage-centered polemics did remind me of the
importance of not getting lost in my users, though.
-Dan

--------------------------------------------------------
San Jose State University * NASA Ames
--------------------------------------------------------

20 Dec 2006 - 6:31pm
Mark Schraad
2006

I use personas, scenarios, use cases, task and activity theory,
roles, goals, results and outcomes in the analysis of what an object,
application, organization or structure should become. Each of these
techniques or perspectives are essentially recipes attempting to
capture a single dimension of the context of use or the context of
potential use. The framework for this is most often situational not
so much personal. The actor(s), the object, the environment, the
action, through time - all five of those elements are worthy of
discovery and study.

Certainly some tools work better than others in specific situations.
Having a deep and varied toolbox is, I suppose, a luxury of years of
experience and working within a corporate structure. As a consultant
or consultancy, it surely makes sense to product-ize and promote your
specific theory, style or method as a point of differentiation - or
at least parity. Though I think most designers are best served by
having many of these at their disposal.

Mark

On Dec 20, 2006, at 5:27 PM, dnp607 wrote:

>>
>> I have found that personas and the user research required to develop
>> them are great for strategic product decisions, while user roles have
>> been very helpful for for giving context to your day to day work.
>
> This is a very astute observation, and shows that different methods
> are appropriate based on the designer and the goal, and that at the
> end of the day, experienced designers must choose. As with any design
> project, whether it's software or a dome for an Italian Renaissance
> church, the choice of approaches is dynamic. Certainly there are
> pitfalls to spending time factoring in the behavior and wishes of
> users, and conversely to boiling everything down to pure usage... I
> don't think that proponents of a usage-based model support beheading
> usage from it's intended owner, or that merely applying methods will
> lead to a good design...
>
> It can't be so cut and dry as to choose one method over another... if
> so, there would be no art in design. The best designers I've met know
> how to apply lots of approaches, iteratively, towards an end goal -
> slicing them up to create hybrids, and even new methods to attack new
> problems.
>
> Reading the user vs. usage-centered polemics did remind me of the
> importance of not getting lost in my users, though.
> -Dan

20 Dec 2006 - 6:44pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

> If you haven't identified a primary persona, how do
> you make strategic decisions about what to build and when? How do you
> decide how prominent a feature should be in the UI? How do you know
> what the appropriate user roles are without doing the research you do
> to develop personas?

You design for the activity, not the user.

Check out the other threads about Activity-Centered Design for more info.
Donald Norman's original article is here:
http://www.jnd.org/dn.mss/human-centered.html

The follow-up article is here:
http://www.jnd.org/dn.mss/hcd_harmful_a_clari.html

And, of course, there's the article I linked to in my first reply.

-r-

20 Dec 2006 - 6:58pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

> There is a lot that I like about user roles. They are much quicker to
> develop and they help to keep the entire team focused on usage.
> However, I don't agree that personas don't have their place.

Personas just happen to be a tool that I've found remarkably useless, like
that weird Allen wrench in your toolbox that went to something you put
together a long time ago and never needed again.

I think it's mostly about exposure and opportunity. If you've only ever been
exposed to and practiced a UCD or GDD type approach that revolves around
using personas, you're very likely to use them. Since this thread is about
trying out new IxD techniques, perhaps my advice here should be, "Give it a
shot and see what happens". :)

-r-

20 Dec 2006 - 8:23pm
Teresa Torres
2006

On Dec 20, 2006, at 3:44 PM, Robert Hoekman, Jr. wrote:

>
> If you haven't identified a primary persona, how do
> you make strategic decisions about what to build and when? How do you
> decide how prominent a feature should be in the UI? How do you know
> what the appropriate user roles are without doing the research you do
> to develop personas?
>
> You design for the activity, not the user.

This is the part I agree with. But you have to understand the
activity and you have to understand how a user approaches an
activity. I agree with Don Norman that a lot of the information in
personas is not critical. Do I need to know that Sally has 2 kids and
drives a Toyota? Probably not, unless those are directly tied to the
activity I am designing for.

I'm saying that activity-centered design doesn't work unless you
understand the activity. Most discussions about activity-centered
design that I have seen, assume that the development team can
understand the activity based on their perspective. This, in my mind,
is a flaw. How I understand the activity, may be very different from
how my end-user understands the activity. No brainstorming session is
going to bridge that gap.

I use personas to communicate my understanding of the activity to
other members of my team so that we can decide priorities. I use user
roles to build out individual pieces of the design.

Teresa

20 Dec 2006 - 9:38pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

> This is the part I agree with. But you have to understand the
> activity and you have to understand how a user approaches an
> activity.

Definitely. Sometimes understanding an activity means talking to the
users that perform it. But sometimes it doesn't. If you're already
familiar with a particular activity, or are able to get a firm grasp
on it yourself and design intelligently based on that information,
then why do more research?

The web works the same way for everyone, and personas are not going to
change that. Forms use checkboxes and input fields (etc), search boxes
all work pretty much the same way, and all the typical design patterns
remain useful regardless of whether or not Sally has two kids. What's
important is that we evaluate how interactions with each of these
things should occur based on the activity the application is meant to
support and how that activity is best performed.

I think not enough designers trust their own instincts (possibly
because not enough companies trust their own staff to do what they
were hired to do). Perhaps this year we should try trusting our
instincts more.

-r-

20 Dec 2006 - 10:05pm
Gabriel White
2005

Dan,

See how the other 85% lives. Get out of your normal environment and
take a look around this world. Not just for one or two weeks; try at
least one or two months - enough time for goggle-eyed wonder to wear
off and engagement to kick in. Be reminded that your experience is
narrow and assumptions are flawed. Be humbled and inspired.

Then come back to your work refreshed and re-engaged.

Gabe

(yes, I'm making an assumption that most people living on this list
are living in the "developed" world)

On 12/21/06, Dan Saffer <dan at odannyboy.com> wrote:
> Hi!
>
> I'm putting together a list of new IxD methods and techniques I've
> found that I want to try next year:
>
> http://www.odannyboy.com/blog/new_archives/2006/12/new_interaction.html
>
> Oddly enough, however, looking back over the blogs I follow, I didn't
> find too many new methods this year. (Just personas, personas,
> personas!)
>
> What new methods are you going to try?
>
> Dan
>
>
> Dan Saffer, IDSA
> http://www.designingforinteraction.com book | work http://
> www.adaptivepath.com
> http://www.noideasbutinthings.com project | site http://
> www.odannyboy.com
>
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>

20 Dec 2006 - 10:52pm
Dan Saffer
2003

On Dec 20, 2006, at 7:05 PM, Gabriel White wrote:

> See how the other 85% lives. Get out of your normal environment and
> take a look around this world. Not just for one or two weeks; try at
> least one or two months - enough time for goggle-eyed wonder to wear
> off and engagement to kick in. Be reminded that your experience is
> narrow and assumptions are flawed. Be humbled and inspired.
>
> Then come back to your work refreshed and re-engaged.
>

Sounds great!!!

I'll quit my job, leave my wife and young child, tell my clients and
creditors "Adios!" and head to Africa!!!

This is just the sort of advice I've been waiting for!

;)

21 Dec 2006 - 1:15am
Austin Govella
2004

On 12/20/06, Robert Hoekman, Jr. <rhoekmanjr at gmail.com> wrote:
> The web works the same way for everyone, and personas are not going to
> change that .... and all the typical design patterns
> remain useful regardless of whether or not Sally has two kids. What's
> important is that we evaluate how interactions with each of these
> things should occur based on the activity the application is meant to
> support and how that activity is best performed.

It's curious that personas are posited as contentious to activities.

Questions aren't just for things you don't know. Usually, it's worth
much more to question what you *do* know. Question your assumptions,
and make sure what you think still applies.

Design is a discipline of models. Sure you can just make models, but
you can't make better models without questioning the models you've
already made. Methods help you make these models, and every method
helps you model from a slightly different perspective. (Use enough
methods, and you're modelling in 3D.)

Sally's two kids have nothing to do with the persona, and ACD offers
no condemnation of personas, or any other method for creating user
models. (In fact, Norman suggests ACD subsumes HCD.) As a method,
personas are just as valid a method for generating activity-centered
models of your users as defining roles.

Comparing personas to allen wrenches isn't the best analogy. I think
it's better to compare design methods to a handful of prisms. Each
prism emits a different color when light passes through. If you say
you never use one prism or another, I suppose that's your prerogative,
but you should be aware that you are missing part of the spectrum. (I
suppose the real art is knowing what parts of the spectrum you need to
address a given problem.)

Better models create better design. If you hate personas, maybe you
just haven't met the right ones. (Sally is an outstanding girl once
you get to know her.)

--
Austin Govella
Thinking & Making: IA, UX, and IxD
http://thinkingandmaking.com

21 Dec 2006 - 7:25am
Dave Malouf
2005

Dan, I think Gabriel was riffing off the experience in China;
I don't think it is unreasonable for anyone to become an ex-pat for a
few months on a contract gig, or even a few years. I know I've been
looking for that at different points.

Maybe, now that I work for Moto (well officially next year), I'll be
able to find new opportunities as an IxD to do things like Gabriel was
able to do. Hong Kong, Brazil, Europe, Israel would all be good. :)

One thing I look for when hiring designers is if they've done any
international travel in their career or if they speak at any level
languages other than their native language.

Having different frames of references really allow you to shake things
up in your designs and get out of the ruts that are so easy to fall into.

But taking this a bit back to the point, I think that the process of
exploration is one that is generally lost within the usual software
development lifecycle that many of us (not all) live in. Exploration
means taking an idea and skewing it, burning it, dissolving it,
twisting, fattening, lessening, etc. Doing 3-5 completely different
prototypes within the same version cycle, especially early goes a long
way to finding creative solutions that are usually lost without this
type of process.

-- dave

Dan Saffer wrote:
> On Dec 20, 2006, at 7:05 PM, Gabriel White wrote:
>
>
>> See how the other 85% lives. Get out of your normal environment and
>> take a look around this world. Not just for one or two weeks; try at
>> least one or two months - enough time for goggle-eyed wonder to wear
>> off and engagement to kick in. Be reminded that your experience is
>> narrow and assumptions are flawed. Be humbled and inspired.
>>
>> Then come back to your work refreshed and re-engaged.
>>
>>
>
> Sounds great!!!
>
> I'll quit my job, leave my wife and young child, tell my clients and
> creditors "Adios!" and head to Africa!!!
>
> This is just the sort of advice I've been waiting for!
>
> ;)
>
>
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
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>

21 Dec 2006 - 10:28am
Robert Reimann
2003

More to Austin's points, personas when properly constructed
encapsulate usage behaviors (which include activities) as well as the
motivations behind them.
My main criticism of ACD is that it (seemingly) attempts to divorce
activities from the human goals that motivate them, thus removing a
rather important bit of context.

The aspect of personas that Robert H. chafes at are the minor
fictionalized elements designed to enhance designer and stakeholder
empathy. I have encountered this reaction from some clients, and leads
me to believe that this approach to personas is not for everyone.
However, it is the rigorous analysis of user behaviors and motivations
that provides the real value of personas from a design and business
decision-making perspective, and is, as Austin describes, wholly
compatible with and complementary to ACD methods.

Robert.

--
Robert Reimann
President, IxDA

Manager, User Experience
Bose Corporation
Framingham, MA

On 12/21/06, Austin Govella <austin.govella at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 12/20/06, Robert Hoekman, Jr. <rhoekmanjr at gmail.com> wrote:
> > The web works the same way for everyone, and personas are not going to
> > change that .... and all the typical design patterns
> > remain useful regardless of whether or not Sally has two kids. What's
> > important is that we evaluate how interactions with each of these
> > things should occur based on the activity the application is meant to
> > support and how that activity is best performed.
>
> It's curious that personas are posited as contentious to activities.
> ...
> Sally's two kids have nothing to do with the persona, and ACD offers
> no condemnation of personas, or any other method for creating user
> models. (In fact, Norman suggests ACD subsumes HCD.) As a method,
> personas are just as valid a method for generating activity-centered
> models of your users as defining roles.

21 Dec 2006 - 11:10am
Dan Saffer
2003

On Dec 21, 2006, at 4:25 AM, David Malouf wrote:

> Dan, I think Gabriel was riffing off the experience in China;
> I don't think it is unreasonable for anyone to become an ex-pat for a
> few months on a contract gig, or even a few years. I know I've been
> looking for that at different points.

Undoubtedly, living/working in a country other than your own for a
long period of time is a broadening experience that would make you a
better designer. I'd love to do it myself. (I know I was overly
flippant in my response.) But as a "new technique to try in 2007"
it's pretty impractical for me and, I imagine, most people. As are
many immersive experiences such as graduate school, which I was
fortunate enough to do but understand is impossible for many people
due to their obligations.

Dan

21 Dec 2006 - 11:20am
Dave Malouf
2005

As in all things UCD related the question is scale, no?

Here are the scales to the suggestion originally made:

1. Move to a new country, especially one with a completely different
language and cultural system than your own. Different alphabet, dominant
religion, political structure.
* initial scale:
For a USer Kenya > India > Japan > Eastern Europe > Brazil > Israel > EU >
Australia > UK > Canada > Different part of the US; for a northerner the
south could be very refreshing and visa versa. Obviously, depending on
where you come from the scaling would be different.

3. Travel (use the same scale as above.)

4. Travel widely in your own country across different landscapes: urban,
rural, national park

5. Go to museums
Something I always wanted to do in my design studio is make museum trips
(especially design museums) a quarterly or at least an annual group
activity.

6. read about any and all of the above. Especially, international
literature is great! Just the way conversation is articulated in different
countries in literature is quite amazing.

I think you get the point. Please fit to your budget, lifestyle, place in
life, and interests.

Oh! and do all the above with a very open mindset and take risks!

- dave

Dan Saffer wrote:
>
> On Dec 21, 2006, at 4:25 AM, David Malouf wrote:
>
>> Dan, I think Gabriel was riffing off the experience in China;
>> I don't think it is unreasonable for anyone to become an ex-pat for a
>> few months on a contract gig, or even a few years. I know I've been
>> looking for that at different points.
>
> Undoubtedly, living/working in a country other than your own for a
> long period of time is a broadening experience that would make you a
> better designer. I'd love to do it myself. (I know I was overly
> flippant in my response.) But as a "new technique to try in 2007"
> it's pretty impractical for me and, I imagine, most people. As are
> many immersive experiences such as graduate school, which I was
> fortunate enough to do but understand is impossible for many people
> due to their obligations.
>
> Dan
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
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>

--
--
David Malouf
dave at ixda.org
http://ixda.org/

21 Dec 2006 - 11:39am
lachica
2006

I like these suggestions. Don't forget about the diversity in your own
backyard and the different perspectives that surround you. I just heard
teenagers described as 'digital natives' on the radio today. That term
really struck a nerve with me, having an anthropology background. It really
reflects how different the assumptions they make about their environment are
different from previous generations.

Cheers,
Julie

On 12/21/06, David Malouf <dave at ixda.org> wrote:
>
> As in all things UCD related the question is scale, no?
>
> Here are the scales to the suggestion originally made:
>
> 1. Move to a new country, especially one with a completely different
> language and cultural system than your own. Different alphabet, dominant
> religion, political structure.
> * initial scale:
> For a USer Kenya > India > Japan > Eastern Europe > Brazil > Israel > EU >
> Australia > UK > Canada > Different part of the US; for a northerner the
> south could be very refreshing and visa versa. Obviously, depending on
> where you come from the scaling would be different.
>
> 3. Travel (use the same scale as above.)
>
> 4. Travel widely in your own country across different landscapes: urban,
> rural, national park
>
> 5. Go to museums
> Something I always wanted to do in my design studio is make museum trips
> (especially design museums) a quarterly or at least an annual group
> activity.
>
> 6. read about any and all of the above. Especially, international
> literature is great! Just the way conversation is articulated in different
> countries in literature is quite amazing.
>
> I think you get the point. Please fit to your budget, lifestyle, place in
> life, and interests.
>
> Oh! and do all the above with a very open mindset and take risks!
>
> - dave
>
> Dan Saffer wrote:
> >
> > On Dec 21, 2006, at 4:25 AM, David Malouf wrote:
> >
> >> Dan, I think Gabriel was riffing off the experience in China;
> >> I don't think it is unreasonable for anyone to become an ex-pat for a
> >> few months on a contract gig, or even a few years. I know I've been
> >> looking for that at different points.
> >
> > Undoubtedly, living/working in a country other than your own for a
> > long period of time is a broadening experience that would make you a
> > better designer. I'd love to do it myself. (I know I was overly
> > flippant in my response.) But as a "new technique to try in 2007"
> > it's pretty impractical for me and, I imagine, most people. As are
> > many immersive experiences such as graduate school, which I was
> > fortunate enough to do but understand is impossible for many people
> > due to their obligations.
> >
> > Dan
> >
> >
> > ________________________________________________________________
> > Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> > To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> > List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> > List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> > (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> > Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> > Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> > Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> > Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
> >
>
>
> --
> --
> David Malouf
> dave at ixda.org
> http://ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>

21 Dec 2006 - 11:53am
Dave Malouf
2005

In that spirit ...
Set up a digital homestead on Second Life
Join MySpace and use it
Play World of Warcraft
Buy a Wii (or atleast buy a friend beer and pizza and homestead at their
place for a weekend to experience it.)
Troll malls @ 3p

but now we are dealing with "research" instead of training your mind to be
a better observer and designer.

-- dave

lachica wrote:
> I like these suggestions. Don't forget about the diversity in your own
> backyard and the different perspectives that surround you. I just heard
> teenagers described as 'digital natives' on the radio today. That term
> really struck a nerve with me, having an anthropology background. It
> really
> reflects how different the assumptions they make about their environment
> are
> different from previous generations.
>
> Cheers,
> Julie
>
> On 12/21/06, David Malouf <dave at ixda.org> wrote:
>>
>> As in all things UCD related the question is scale, no?
>>
>> Here are the scales to the suggestion originally made:
>>
>> 1. Move to a new country, especially one with a completely different
>> language and cultural system than your own. Different alphabet, dominant
>> religion, political structure.
>> * initial scale:
>> For a USer Kenya > India > Japan > Eastern Europe > Brazil > Israel > EU
>> >
>> Australia > UK > Canada > Different part of the US; for a northerner the
>> south could be very refreshing and visa versa. Obviously, depending on
>> where you come from the scaling would be different.
>>
>> 3. Travel (use the same scale as above.)
>>
>> 4. Travel widely in your own country across different landscapes: urban,
>> rural, national park
>>
>> 5. Go to museums
>> Something I always wanted to do in my design studio is make museum trips
>> (especially design museums) a quarterly or at least an annual group
>> activity.
>>
>> 6. read about any and all of the above. Especially, international
>> literature is great! Just the way conversation is articulated in
>> different
>> countries in literature is quite amazing.
>>
>> I think you get the point. Please fit to your budget, lifestyle, place
>> in
>> life, and interests.
>>
>> Oh! and do all the above with a very open mindset and take risks!
>>
>> - dave
>>
>> Dan Saffer wrote:
>> >
>> > On Dec 21, 2006, at 4:25 AM, David Malouf wrote:
>> >
>> >> Dan, I think Gabriel was riffing off the experience in China;
>> >> I don't think it is unreasonable for anyone to become an ex-pat for a
>> >> few months on a contract gig, or even a few years. I know I've been
>> >> looking for that at different points.
>> >
>> > Undoubtedly, living/working in a country other than your own for a
>> > long period of time is a broadening experience that would make you a
>> > better designer. I'd love to do it myself. (I know I was overly
>> > flippant in my response.) But as a "new technique to try in 2007"
>> > it's pretty impractical for me and, I imagine, most people. As are
>> > many immersive experiences such as graduate school, which I was
>> > fortunate enough to do but understand is impossible for many people
>> > due to their obligations.
>> >
>> > Dan
>> >
>> >
>> > ________________________________________________________________
>> > Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>> > To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
>> > List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
>> > List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
>> > (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
>> > Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
>> > Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
>> > Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
>> > Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>> >
>>
>>
>> --
>> --
>> David Malouf
>> dave at ixda.org
>> http://ixda.org/
>>
>> ________________________________________________________________
>> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
>> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
>> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
>> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
>> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
>> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
>> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
>> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>>
>

--
--
David Malouf
dave at ixda.org
http://ixda.org/

21 Dec 2006 - 11:55am
Dave Malouf
2005

I forgot one of my favorites:

Read, watch, experience science fiction.

-- dave

lachica wrote:
> I like these suggestions. Don't forget about the diversity in your own
> backyard and the different perspectives that surround you. I just heard
> teenagers described as 'digital natives' on the radio today. That term
> really struck a nerve with me, having an anthropology background. It
> really
> reflects how different the assumptions they make about their environment
> are
> different from previous generations.
>
> Cheers,
> Julie
>
> On 12/21/06, David Malouf <dave at ixda.org> wrote:
>>
>> As in all things UCD related the question is scale, no?
>>
>> Here are the scales to the suggestion originally made:
>>
>> 1. Move to a new country, especially one with a completely different
>> language and cultural system than your own. Different alphabet, dominant
>> religion, political structure.
>> * initial scale:
>> For a USer Kenya > India > Japan > Eastern Europe > Brazil > Israel > EU
>> >
>> Australia > UK > Canada > Different part of the US; for a northerner the
>> south could be very refreshing and visa versa. Obviously, depending on
>> where you come from the scaling would be different.
>>
>> 3. Travel (use the same scale as above.)
>>
>> 4. Travel widely in your own country across different landscapes: urban,
>> rural, national park
>>
>> 5. Go to museums
>> Something I always wanted to do in my design studio is make museum trips
>> (especially design museums) a quarterly or at least an annual group
>> activity.
>>
>> 6. read about any and all of the above. Especially, international
>> literature is great! Just the way conversation is articulated in
>> different
>> countries in literature is quite amazing.
>>
>> I think you get the point. Please fit to your budget, lifestyle, place
>> in
>> life, and interests.
>>
>> Oh! and do all the above with a very open mindset and take risks!
>>
>> - dave
>>
>> Dan Saffer wrote:
>> >
>> > On Dec 21, 2006, at 4:25 AM, David Malouf wrote:
>> >
>> >> Dan, I think Gabriel was riffing off the experience in China;
>> >> I don't think it is unreasonable for anyone to become an ex-pat for a
>> >> few months on a contract gig, or even a few years. I know I've been
>> >> looking for that at different points.
>> >
>> > Undoubtedly, living/working in a country other than your own for a
>> > long period of time is a broadening experience that would make you a
>> > better designer. I'd love to do it myself. (I know I was overly
>> > flippant in my response.) But as a "new technique to try in 2007"
>> > it's pretty impractical for me and, I imagine, most people. As are
>> > many immersive experiences such as graduate school, which I was
>> > fortunate enough to do but understand is impossible for many people
>> > due to their obligations.
>> >
>> > Dan
>> >
>> >
>> > ________________________________________________________________
>> > Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>> > To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
>> > List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
>> > List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
>> > (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
>> > Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
>> > Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
>> > Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
>> > Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>> >
>>
>>
>> --
>> --
>> David Malouf
>> dave at ixda.org
>> http://ixda.org/
>>
>> ________________________________________________________________
>> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
>> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
>> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
>> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
>> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
>> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
>> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
>> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>

--
--
David Malouf
dave at ixda.org
http://ixda.org/

21 Dec 2006 - 11:59am
Kim Goodwin
2004

It's definitely possible to over-emphasize the fictional elements of a
persona--if you've got more than one or two such elements, it will
likely distract everyone (including the designers) from the real point,
which is the behavioral data the personas represent. However, there is
value in making the personas feel like real people, in that it
encourages empathy in a way that a summary of data can't. Cooperista
Chris Noessel offers an explanation of why he thinks this is the case:

http://www.cooper.com/content/insights/newsletters/2006_issue33/Ignore_t
hat_designer.asp

However, I think it's also important to note that a persona without a
scenario is about as effective as a chisel without a hammer. Alone,
personas may increase understanding and empathy, but without scenarios,
they won't get you very far in creating and evaluating design. In other
words, you have to understand both the activity AND the actor.

For this reason, I have to disagree that "the Web works the same way for
everyone." While this is technically true, the implication seems to be
that everyone *uses* the Web the same way, which is not at all the case.
For example, if you're designing an auto maker's web site, you need to
understand what kind of buyers you're targeting so you know what to
emphasize. The activity--deciding what car to buy--is the same, but the
information people want and the manner in which they want to consume it
varies widely. A meticulous, fact-oriented person wants all the data
about fuel efficiency, safety, cost, horsepower, available options, and
so forth. That person virtually ignores all the flashy photos and
marketing spin. However, the person who makes decisions largely on an
emotional basis will respond primarily to that imagery, and may never
even look at the detailed information. If you fail to understand these
and other types of users, you'll fail to sell cars to significant chunks
of the user population.

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
Robert Reimann
Sent: Thursday, December 21, 2006 7:28 AM
To: ixd-discussion
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] New IxD Techniques to Try in 2007

More to Austin's points, personas when properly constructed
encapsulate usage behaviors (which include activities) as well as the
motivations behind them.
My main criticism of ACD is that it (seemingly) attempts to divorce
activities from the human goals that motivate them, thus removing a
rather important bit of context.

The aspect of personas that Robert H. chafes at are the minor
fictionalized elements designed to enhance designer and stakeholder
empathy. I have encountered this reaction from some clients, and leads
me to believe that this approach to personas is not for everyone.
However, it is the rigorous analysis of user behaviors and motivations
that provides the real value of personas from a design and business
decision-making perspective, and is, as Austin describes, wholly
compatible with and complementary to ACD methods.

Robert.

--
Robert Reimann
President, IxDA

Manager, User Experience
Bose Corporation
Framingham, MA

On 12/21/06, Austin Govella <austin.govella at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 12/20/06, Robert Hoekman, Jr. <rhoekmanjr at gmail.com> wrote:
> > The web works the same way for everyone, and personas are not going
to
> > change that .... and all the typical design patterns
> > remain useful regardless of whether or not Sally has two kids.
What's
> > important is that we evaluate how interactions with each of these
> > things should occur based on the activity the application is meant
to
> > support and how that activity is best performed.
>
> It's curious that personas are posited as contentious to activities.
> ...
> Sally's two kids have nothing to do with the persona, and ACD offers
> no condemnation of personas, or any other method for creating user
> models. (In fact, Norman suggests ACD subsumes HCD.) As a method,
> personas are just as valid a method for generating activity-centered
> models of your users as defining roles.
________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
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21 Dec 2006 - 12:04pm
Mark Schraad
2006

This is exactly where I struggle with the differentitation. I do not know how you can effectively assemble personas - or activity/tasks/use cases without a thorough understanding of motivations and goals.

Mark

>More to Austin's points, personas when properly constructed
>encapsulate usage behaviors (which include activities) as well as the
>motivations behind them.
>My main criticism of ACD is that it (seemingly) attempts to divorce
>activities from the human goals that motivate them, thus removing a
>rather important bit of context.
>

21 Dec 2006 - 1:11pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

> For this reason, I have to disagree that "the Web works the same way for
> everyone." While this is technically true, the implication seems to be
> that everyone *uses* the Web the same way, which is not at all the case.

But they do. Checkboxes and input fields don't change based on your
experience level or age or anything else. Sure, different users approach
things differently - looking for different kinds of info, etc - but this
doesn't change the fact that a three-panel layout is the most common layout
on the web.

For example, if you're designing an auto maker's web site, you need to
> understand what kind of buyers you're targeting so you know what to
> emphasize.

By understanding the activity, I can design in a way that works well for a
wide range of audiences. And if I'm a car seller, it would be wise of me to
do so because I can sell more cars that way. Even car buyers with advanced
knowledge want the web to be simple to use, so if I design to make things
understandable for newbies and experts, I open up my audience, not limit it.

The activity--deciding what car to buy--is the same, but the
> information people want and the manner in which they want to consume it
> varies widely. A meticulous, fact-oriented person wants all the data
> about fuel efficiency, safety, cost, horsepower, available options, and
> so forth. That person virtually ignores all the flashy photos and
> marketing spin. However, the person who makes decisions largely on an
> emotional basis will respond primarily to that imagery, and may never
> even look at the detailed information.

Of course. Which is *exactly* why it's so absurd to focus on users. They
want different things, they respond to different things, they react and make
decisions differently, on and on. I could spend all my time going in
circles, or I could ignore the audience and focus on the activity.

I recently heard two comments about the same application, in response to the
same survey question. The question was, "What do you like the most about the
new version?". One answer went like this:

*"Nothing. The old one worked just fine and didn't look like dog
vomit. Fire the idiot that came up with this piece of junk. Absolutely
unusable."*

The other went like this:

*"The new interface plain out rocks. It runs faster, and is much more
intuitive. I really like how you have a tool bar, but always know what
you are working on and those things stick around. It behaves more like
an application that a stateful webpage, which is a huge plus. Thanks
Guys, keep up the good work!"*
How can I possibly expect to keep my sanity if I let users guide my designs?

If you fail to understand these
> and other types of users, you'll fail to sell cars to significant chunks
> of the user population.

Prove it. Where's the evidence?

-r-

21 Dec 2006 - 1:28pm
Dave Malouf
2005

Robert,

Are you suggesting with your comment which summarizes as "why focus on
users at all?" to suggest that UCD methods in general are a waste of
time? That there is no value in observing users in context and attempt
to model your data in a way to bring generalized understanding?

Personally, I find the "prove it" comment to be a bit, well dry ...
but I think there have been enough case studies that explain the value
of goal-directed design, or contextual inquiry, or similar type
user/mental modeling that I sorta take these as given.

But I'm curious to understand your stance and to caveat this, I have to
say I often wonder what % gain is there on all this research ... 2nd
caveat ... that is until I got to Symbol, where I got to see more UCD
processes in practice than I have in other environments used in
application really well.

Understanding the context of use, mental models, and user motivations
seem key in figuring out strategic aspects of design and then GUI design
to match against that.

Kim's example of having different modes of engaging content according to
user emotional models has been in play way before the web. For example,
a recent new franchise by Gap, inc. called "Forthe & Towne" (I cannot be
held responsible for pretentious spelling) radically changed their
classic store layout to accommodate the reality that almost all decision
making by this crowd of shoppers-30-54yo women-was done INSIDE the
dressing room.

one could say that all the same widgets of a clothing retail store are
there, but putting the dressing room in the center of the store and
designing it as an open space with lots of service help is radically
different from before and has increased sales significantly in early
test-bed stores that have opened.

Now, one could say that they are pissing off another user type (that
hates help and likes to hide from staff), but they are not a primary
persona probably b/c they usually spend less per visit.

But my real point is to better understand where you are coming from on
its own merits, Robert. I have always believed that UCD is ONE path to
interaction design and not the only one. It is sorta our "Evolution".
Very little room is given to non-UCD methods in the UX community b/c
some might say it defines us, but I don't think so per se and would
definitely be interested in hearing about non-UCD methods that people use.

-- dave

21 Dec 2006 - 1:31pm
Todd Warfel
2003

On Dec 21, 2006, at 10:28 AM, Robert Reimann wrote:
> More to Austin's points, personas when properly constructed
> encapsulate usage behaviors (which include activities) as well as
> the motivations behind them.

I find this to be a curious statement. I've had numerous
conversations with other industry professionals on the east and west
coasts about personas, their methods for creating them, brining them
to life, maintaining them, and retiring them. I was surprised at the
number of "we've tried them but don't find them to be as effective as
you have..." statements.

What I've seen is that:
1) People (practitioners) aren't creating data-driven personas. We
use no less than three separate input sources (e.g. business
stakeholders, customer advocates, actual customers, someone we know
who fits the profile). Instead, they use some marketing demographics.
So, they're only getting part of the picture.

2) Personas are introduced, but don't use them throughout the Design
process. This creates problems when they're trying to make granular
design decisions, which leads to opinion wars, scope creep, etc. This
is one of the areas they're most effective, yet not used.

3) There's no plan for maintenance and retirement.

4) They recycle personas when they should be creating new ones.
There's a lack of understanding that personas are contextual and
specific to a particular application or service. Instead, they'll
take a persona that's for a consumer product or service and use them
for a business product or service - after all, that person still buys
our product right? Well, not that product!

A year ago I had the opportunity to participate in a research project
on persona creation and use and the research company (think tank) was
finding the same thing I just highlighted.

It just seems that so many people "think" they know how to create and
use personas, but they're not doing it correctly. There really is a
craft to it. I keep hearing arguments that "there are tons of persona
resources out there." Well, if that's the case, then why aren't
people doing them right, or why are they not effective for some, but
very effective for others?

Cheers!

Todd Zaki Warfel
Partner, Design & Usability Specialist
Messagefirst | Designing Information. Beautifully.
----------------------------------
Contact Info
Voice: (215) 825-7423
Email: todd at messagefirst.com
AIM: twarfel at mac.com
Blog: http://toddwarfel.com
----------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

21 Dec 2006 - 2:14pm
Robert Reimann
2003

Not sure what you find curious about my statement, but I certainly
agree with your discussion below to the letter: crafting personas
requires time, energy, and rigor, and they need to be a part of the
entire design process. Personas are precision tools that require
skill, knowledge, and appropriate user data to apply correctly.

Hopefully, with the introduction of more texts on persona creation,
use, and validation, the word will get out there that they are more
than just demographic profiles with cute names and fictional
backstories.

Robert.

--
Robert Reimann
President, IxDA

Manager, User Experience
Bose Corporation
Framingham, MA

On 12/21/06, Todd Zaki Warfel <lists at toddwarfel.com> wrote:
>
> On Dec 21, 2006, at 10:28 AM, Robert Reimann wrote:
> More to Austin's points, personas when properly constructed encapsulate
> usage behaviors (which include activities) as well as the motivations behind
> them.
>
> I find this to be a curious statement. I've had numerous conversations with
> other industry professionals on the east and west coasts about personas,
> their methods for creating them, brining them to life, maintaining them, and
> retiring them. I was surprised at the number of "we've tried them but don't
> find them to be as effective as you have..." statements.
>
> What I've seen is that:
> 1) People (practitioners) aren't creating data-driven personas. We use no
> less than three separate input sources (e.g. business stakeholders, customer
> advocates, actual customers, someone we know who fits the profile). Instead,
> they use some marketing demographics. So, they're only getting part of the
> picture.
>
> 2) Personas are introduced, but don't use them throughout the Design
> process. This creates problems when they're trying to make granular design
> decisions, which leads to opinion wars, scope creep, etc. This is one of the
> areas they're most effective, yet not used.
>
> 3) There's no plan for maintenance and retirement.
>
> 4) They recycle personas when they should be creating new ones. There's a
> lack of understanding that personas are contextual and specific to a
> particular application or service. Instead, they'll take a persona that's
> for a consumer product or service and use them for a business product or
> service - after all, that person still buys our product right? Well, not
> that product!
>
> A year ago I had the opportunity to participate in a research project on
> persona creation and use and the research company (think tank) was finding
> the same thing I just highlighted.
>
> It just seems that so many people "think" they know how to create and use
> personas, but they're not doing it correctly. There really is a craft to it.
> I keep hearing arguments that "there are tons of persona resources out
> there." Well, if that's the case, then why aren't people doing them right,
> or why are they not effective for some, but very effective for others?
>
> Cheers!
>
> Todd Zaki Warfel
> Partner, Design & Usability Specialist
> Messagefirst | Designing Information. Beautifully.
> ----------------------------------
> Contact Info
> Voice: (215) 825-7423
> Email: todd at messagefirst.com
> AIM: twarfel at mac.com
> Blog: http://toddwarfel.com
> ----------------------------------
> In theory, theory and practice are the same.
> In practice, they are not.

21 Dec 2006 - 4:44pm
Michael Micheletti
2006

Hi Dan, good question.

I'm not sure this quite qualifies as an actual methodology to try, but it
seems like I've been gaining a lot of software insights lately by casually
evesdropping. I'll join conversations in the hallway and mostly listen. I'll
perk my ears up when strangers talk about software in a coffee shop. I'll
hang out and pretend to be reading while my son and his friends play video
games.

In our company, where I'm the only designer, people aren't always sure when
to bring design into a process. Some design problems get handled by sales or
support workarounds and, with everyone happy, that's it. So I walk around,
keep my ears open, and pay attention when design-related issues come up.
These overheard snippets of conversations become dots I try to connect. One
of the encouraging things I've been hearing lately is developers talking
amongst themselves about the quality of the user experience. And just today
I was surprised to learn that users were having trouble configuring
something that I didn't even know could be configured. Something for the job
jar there.

I'm not advocating being a snoop or a pest, just a sort of "Designing by
Walking Around" mindfulness. Talkers seem to appreciate listeners, so
perhaps I'm only suggesting circulating and being friendly.

Michael Micheletti

On 12/20/06, Dan Saffer <dan at odannyboy.com> wrote:
>
>
> What new methods are you going to try?
>
> Dan
>

21 Dec 2006 - 6:22pm
cfmdesigns
2004

>From: Teresa Torres <ttorres at stanfordalumni.org>
>
>> You design for the activity, not the user.
>
>This is the part I agree with. But you have to understand the
>activity and you have to understand how a user approaches an
>activity. I agree with Don Norman that a lot of the information in
>personas is not critical. Do I need to know that Sally has 2 kids and
>drives a Toyota? Probably not, unless those are directly tied to the
>activity I am designing for.

How about indirectly tied? If Sally drives a Land Rover LR2 (the brand new model) and has two teenage boys, ages 13 and 15, there's a heck of a lot you can infer about her income level, her buying habits, and what cultural artifacts her home revolves around. I'm right now working on a project selling and serving digital content online, and those inferences can say a lot about how she (and her sons) would use our software, vs. Tom the 62 year old widower with a four year-old granddaughter and user of public transportation.

It's probably better to put more info in a persona than you expect to need than less. Treat it like an iceberg rather than a cheap Western movie storefront: there should be a whole lot more under the surface/behind the facade, informing those using the persona without being spelled out to them.

-- Jim

21 Dec 2006 - 7:27pm
Lorne Trudeau
2006

Jim: "If Sally drives a Land Rover LR2 (the brand new model) and has two
teenage boys, ages 13 and 15, there's a heck of a lot you can infer
about her income level, her buying habits, and what cultural artifacts
her home revolves around."

If you're interested in communicating Sally's income level and buying
habits, then talk about her income level and buying habits. Don't make
me read between the lines by talking about her bloody Land Rover!
I think that is exactly the problem with personas ... the authors
sometimes focus on the wrong details.

Robert: " can you not realize on your own that the decision to purchase
clothing is often made in the dressing room? It's not rocket surgery.
Spend a little time thinking about how something works - how it REALLY
works, and how it really SHOULD work - and you can often arrive at
conclusions that otherwise take a UCD approach 6 weeks, 50 users, and a
ton of money."

I think it is clear that you are actually performing UCD. You are just
doing it on the fly in your mind. However, since it is a bit of an art,
not a science, it is still important to try to formalize the methods
that take place intuitively within our minds. That way we can teach them
to others and standardize them in larger organizations. Plus, some of us
just aren't as smart as you ... we need all the help we can get!

Lorne

21 Dec 2006 - 8:28pm
cfmdesigns
2004

>From: Lorne Trudeau <lorne.trudeau at number41media.com>
>
>Jim: "If Sally drives a Land Rover LR2 (the brand new model) and has two
>teenage boys, ages 13 and 15, there's a heck of a lot you can infer
>about her income level, her buying habits, and what cultural artifacts
>her home revolves around."
>
>If you're interested in communicating Sally's income level and buying
>habits, then talk about her income level and buying habits. Don't make
>me read between the lines by talking about her bloody Land Rover!

Well, yes, if what your direct goal with the persona is to marker out the income level and the buying habits, by all means, spell them out explicitly. But I was talking about the indirect inferences which (can) come out of the persona, the stuff which informs and enhances stuff around the sides.

Personae, as I understand them, are not supposed to be just a laundry list of properties, but something more rounded and fleshed out, something from which behaviors and activities can be gleaned in an more organic way.

Of course, I come at this from the UE testing side of things. Given the Sally persona and an existing piece of software, how would she use it, what workflows would she pursue, what would she buy, and what behaviors would annoy the crap out of her with her $60K car and young white boys playing hip hop way too loud on its Bose sound system? (Okay, what behaviors other than those of her sons? <grin>)

>I think that is exactly the problem with personas ... the authors
>sometimes focus on the wrong details.

I don't disagree with you on this. And sometimes the users of the personae do as well.

-- Jim

21 Dec 2006 - 8:47pm
Oleh Kovalchuke
2006

On 12/21/06, Jim Drew <cfmdesigns at earthlink.net> wrote:
>
> >From: Lorne Trudeau <lorne.trudeau at number41media.com>
> >Don't make me read between the lines by talking about her bloody Land
> Rover!
>
> Well, yes, if what your direct goal with the persona is to marker out the
> income level and the buying habits, by all means, spell them out
> explicitly. But I was talking about the indirect inferences which (can)
> come out of the persona, the stuff which informs and enhances stuff around
> the sides.

Here is an interesting perspective on this topic from Douglas Adams
(starting from ~3'20" of the clip Douglas talks about dragons as organic
personae used in feng shui):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOxRSYd4G0o

--
Oleh Kovalchuke
Interaction Design is Design of Time
http://www.tangospring.com/IxDtopicWhatIsInteractionDesign.htm

>
>

21 Dec 2006 - 10:51pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

"How about indirectly tied? If Sally drives a Land Rover LR2 (the
brand new model) and has two teenage boys, ages 13 and 15, there's a
heck of a lot you can infer about her income level, her buying habits,
and what cultural artifacts her home revolves around. I'm right now
working on a project selling and serving digital content online, and
those inferences can say a lot about how she (and her sons) would use
our software, vs. Tom the 62 year old widower with a four year-old
granddaughter and user of public transportation."

And therein lies the rub.

How, exactly, is any of this information going to "change" the way she
uses the software? Does it mean you're going to put the checkboxes in
a different place? Sorry if that seems snide, but seriously, how does
it really "change" anything?

-r-

21 Dec 2006 - 10:58pm
Navneet Nair
2004

>
>
>
> And therein lies the rub.
>
> How, exactly, is any of this information going to "change" the way she
> uses the software? Does it mean you're going to put the checkboxes in
> a different place? Sorry if that seems snide, but seriously, how does
> it really "change" anything?

It may not change the UI by much, but it should definitely give an idea
about the overall experience the user expects. Environmental exposure for
both these personae are different, hence it should give cues to the
tone/language to be used and the motor dexterity. All of which should feed
into the final interaction design...

Navneet

--
----------------------------------------------------
Navneet Nair
Interaction Architect
onClipEvent: form follows function();
----------------------------------------------------
Website: http://www.onclipevent.com
Blog: http://enterframe.blogspot.com/

21 Dec 2006 - 10:58pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

> My understanding is that you have to observe activity in order to
> describe/model/understand it. I can't imagine observing activities
> without looking at users

This description seems to presume that the solution being designed is
for some physical activity that has no digital equivalent, and you're
creating it. Either that, or you mean "observe" in the sense that you
observe users use existing software and attempt to learn from that.

I don't believe you need to observe users using an existing product to
see where its problems are. Far more often than not, a session like
this only confirms what I already know.

Please clarify. Can you describe an example of an activity you
observed users perform? Was it digital or physical? What did you learn
from it?

-r-

21 Dec 2006 - 11:05pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

> Now the point you made about generalizing the software community, I
> totally understand, and have NEVER settled for. I have worked in tech
> heavy places and have instituted changes to make research and design
> practices happen. If you aren't evangelizing for design EVERYDAY in
> these companies, then to me you are doing a disservice to your value
> proposition and you should fire yourself. Yup! I mean it.

I never said I don't do this. Quite the opposite. I push *hard* to
make design a priority in my company, to make my team first in the
batting order, to get in earlier and earlier in the process so we can
help guide the visions for products, to convert a developer-driven
world into a culture of usability. I do all this, and I do it every
single day.

I've made substantial progress in this area, and I resent any
implication that advocating ACD somehow equates to neglecting my
responsibility to advocate design.

-r-

21 Dec 2006 - 11:07pm
Mark Schraad
2006

It might not change the way she uses a stats package... but quicken,
or a visit to like.com or etsy, yahoo shopping or target.com -
certainly. How she buys a car, what kind of tool set she buys for the
house, what kind of carpet, how she purchases music, her preference
in the type of life insurance package is best. These are all things
that are designed, that require her interaction - and as such, a
little more insight into her lifestyle and preferences can go a long
ways.

Mark

On Dec 21, 2006, at 10:51 PM, Robert Hoekman, Jr. wrote:

> How, exactly, is any of this information going to "change" the way she
> uses the software? Does it mean you're going to put the checkboxes in
> a different place? Sorry if that seems snide, but seriously, how does
> it really "change" anything?

22 Dec 2006 - 2:54am
Adam Korman
2004

One of the main reasons to use personas, rather than just generic
user profiles, is to humanize the process of designing and developing
software. Specificity helps reinforce that real people, not abstract
"users" use your software. I can't relate to a user that has 2.3
kids, but I get a sense of what Sally's life is like by knowing she
has two teenage sons (that are 13 and 15 years old). So, it's
important that these kinds of details (ages of children, make/model
of car, etc.) are either (a) relevant to the problem space and
representative of the user base or (b) irrelevant to the problem
space but not distracting.

To answer your questions, this information changes the way I design
the software moreso than the way Sally uses it. So, I might put a
checkbox in a different place when I imagine Sally using the
software, because I can relate to her and can empathize with her in a
way that I can't when designing for some faceless "user" (or hollow
persona that doesn't ring true). It's very easy to rationalize bad
design when you don't picture a person having to use it.

-Adam

On Dec 21, 2006, at 7:51 PM, Robert Hoekman, Jr. wrote:

> "How about indirectly tied? If Sally drives a Land Rover LR2 (the
> brand new model) and has two teenage boys, ages 13 and 15, there's a
> heck of a lot you can infer about her income level, her buying habits,
> and what cultural artifacts her home revolves around..."
>
> How, exactly, is any of this information going to "change" the way she
> uses the software? Does it mean you're going to put the checkboxes in
> a different place? Sorry if that seems snide, but seriously, how does
> it really "change" anything?

22 Dec 2006 - 8:19am
Todd Warfel
2003

On Dec 21, 2006, at 10:51 PM, Robert Hoekman, Jr. wrote:

> "How about indirectly tied? If Sally drives a Land Rover LR2 (the
> brand new model) and has two teenage boys, ages 13 and 15, there's
> a heck of a lot you can infer about her income level, her buying
> habits, and what cultural artifacts her home revolves around. I'm
> right now working on a project selling and serving digital content
> online, and those inferences can say a lot about how she (and her
> sons) would use our software, vs. Tom the 62 year old widower with
> a four year-old granddaughter and user of public
> transportation." [...]
>
> How, exactly, is any of this information going to "change" the way
> she uses the software? Does it mean you're going to put the
> checkboxes in a different place? Sorry if that seems snide, but
> seriously, how does it really "change" anything?

The problem with this type of persona description is that it doesn't
contain any information related to how she would use the software.
Design personas should be situational and contextual. So, a little
bit of demographic info is good, but the heart of the description and
day in the life story about them should focus on their behaviors
related to a specific product or service.

For instance, you could describe a little bit of the competitive
nature between two brothers and how that impacts their different
trading strategies for an investment site. You could talk about a
middle school kid stopping by the academic advisor's office after
swim practice in the morning to look into scholarship information for
a student loan company's site.

These little pieces of information that indicate a persons habits as
they could relate to a product or service are what make personas
useful. Just a bunch of demographic information about money, their
house, and a Range Rover isn't very useful in most cases.

This get's back to my point earlier - so many people think they know
how to create personas, but in fact they're not creating effective
data-driven personas. They're creating some marketing profile. But
I'd still argue that behaviors are more effective for marketing folks
than a bunch of demographic info. I just don't think the marketing
folks have figured that out yet.

Cheers!

Todd Zaki Warfel
Partner, Design & Usability Specialist
Messagefirst | Designing Information. Beautifully.
----------------------------------
Contact Info
Voice: (215) 825-7423
Email: todd at messagefirst.com
AIM: twarfel at mac.com
Blog: http://toddwarfel.com
----------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

22 Dec 2006 - 8:22am
Todd Warfel
2003

On Dec 21, 2006, at 11:07 PM, Mark Schraad wrote:

> It might not change the way she uses a stats package... but
> quicken, or a visit to like.com or etsy, yahoo shopping or
> target.com - certainly. How she buys a car, what kind of tool set
> she buys for the house, what kind of carpet, how she purchases
> music, her preference in the type of life insurance package is best.

Perhaps, but even better would be to describe her budget techniques,
how she pays bills, etc. for Quicken, her last trip to Target, or
what she recently purchased on Amazon.com for shopping on-line, or
how many kids she has, what kinds of errands she runs, and whether
she lives in the city or burbs, or the fact that she's expecting a
new set of twins for what kind of car she would purchase.

Cheers!

Todd Zaki Warfel
Partner, Design & Usability Specialist
Messagefirst | Designing Information. Beautifully.
----------------------------------
Contact Info
Voice: (215) 825-7423
Email: todd at messagefirst.com
AIM: twarfel at mac.com
Blog: http://toddwarfel.com
----------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

22 Dec 2006 - 8:30am
Mark Schraad
2006

>This get's back to my point earlier - so many people think they know
>how to create personas, but in fact they're not creating effective
>data-driven personas. They're creating some marketing profile. But
>I'd still argue that behaviors are more effective for marketing folks
>than a bunch of demographic info. I just don't think the marketing
>folks have figured that out yet.

Some, but not many marketing people understand true segmentation, which is NOT ever based upon demographics, psychographics or socio-graphics! You are absolutely correct Todd - too many designers throw together loose and shallow marketing profiles that are not data driven and not deep enough for design work. Marketings most frequent quuestion is what? Designers need to now how and why.

22 Dec 2006 - 8:31am
Mark Schraad
2006

I think we are on the same page here Todd. -Mark

On Friday, December 22, 2006, at 08:22AM, "Todd Zaki Warfel" <lists at toddwarfel.com> wrote:
>
>On Dec 21, 2006, at 11:07 PM, Mark Schraad wrote:
>
>> It might not change the way she uses a stats package... but
>> quicken, or a visit to like.com or etsy, yahoo shopping or
>> target.com - certainly. How she buys a car, what kind of tool set
>> she buys for the house, what kind of carpet, how she purchases
>> music, her preference in the type of life insurance package is best.
>
>Perhaps, but even better would be to describe her budget techniques,
>how she pays bills, etc. for Quicken, her last trip to Target, or
>what she recently purchased on Amazon.com for shopping on-line, or
>how many kids she has, what kinds of errands she runs, and whether
>she lives in the city or burbs, or the fact that she's expecting a
>new set of twins for what kind of car she would purchase.
>
>
>Cheers!
>
>Todd Zaki Warfel
>Partner, Design & Usability Specialist
>Messagefirst | Designing Information. Beautifully.
>----------------------------------
>Contact Info
>Voice: (215) 825-7423
>Email: todd at messagefirst.com
>AIM: twarfel at mac.com
>Blog: http://toddwarfel.com
>----------------------------------
>In theory, theory and practice are the same.
>In practice, they are not.
>
>
>

22 Dec 2006 - 8:53am
dszuc
2005

The key to Personas (as I see it) is to inform them through crafting the
right Research Plan to begin with. What do you want to find out? What key
Persona characteristics do you need to focus on to have an impact on your
design?

Examples:

1) Understanding critical tasks?

2) Other applications they are using on their desktop?

3) Interruptions during the day?

4) Amount of time users realistically have to spend on the software you are
developing?

5) Training they have received?

6) Other paper based tools do they use?

So ... Writing a Persona without conducting the User Research first is like
"making it up" - See: Personas and Outrageous Software - an Interview with
Alan Cooper - http://www.uxpod.com/index.php?post_id=160220

Its designing in a vacuum.

With the benefit of User Research, this informs both the "strategic" and
"widget" level design.

Rgds,

Daniel Szuc
Principal Usability Consultant
Apogee Usability Asia Ltd
www.apogeehk.com
'Usability in Asia'

The Usability Toolkit - http://www.sitepoint.com/books/usability1/

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Robert
Hoekman, Jr.
Sent: Friday, December 22, 2006 11:52 AM
To: Jim Drew
Cc: discuss at ixdg.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] New IxD Techniques to Try in 2007

"How about indirectly tied? If Sally drives a Land Rover LR2 (the brand new
model) and has two teenage boys, ages 13 and 15, there's a heck of a lot you
can infer about her income level, her buying habits, and what cultural
artifacts her home revolves around. I'm right now working on a project
selling and serving digital content online, and those inferences can say a
lot about how she (and her sons) would use our software, vs. Tom the 62 year
old widower with a four year-old granddaughter and user of public
transportation."

And therein lies the rub.

How, exactly, is any of this information going to "change" the way she uses
the software? Does it mean you're going to put the checkboxes in a different
place? Sorry if that seems snide, but seriously, how does it really "change"
anything?

-r- ________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
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22 Dec 2006 - 10:37am
Becubed
2004

> Please clarify. Can you describe an example of an activity you
> observed users perform? Was it digital or physical? What did you learn
> from it?

I gave one example yesterday, so here's a different one. Redesigning
an enterprise web application used by people who manage projects to
renovate/refit large corporate office buildings. Our observations
were both digital and physical in nature, meaning we had them
demonstrate numerous core activities in their current software, but
we also spent time on the job with them as they went about their work
(this may sound like a lot, but we spent on average 90 minutes with
each person).

We learned a lot of stuff, but here's one that had a big impact on
our design: these people are interrupted a LOT. They'll go through
periods when their phone rings every 5 minutes, and the emails rarely
stop. And although a few people at our client had a notion that these
people are "very busy" -- it was only by spending time with them that
we truly appreciated what that meant.

So in the web application, we built numerous ways for them to deal
with interruptions. The most obvious being a way to "set aside"
whatever they were doing in the UI and deal with the new request,
then with a single click return to where they were.

--
Robert Barlow-Busch
Practice Director, Interaction Design
Quarry Integrated Communications Inc.
rbarlowbusch at quarry.com
(519) 570-2020

This e-mail message (including any attachments) is intended only for
the use of the individual to whom it is addressed and may contain
information that is privileged, proprietary, confidential or subject
to copyright. If you are not the intended recipient, you are
notified that any use, dissemination, distribution or reproduction of
this communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this
communication in error, please notify the sender and delete this e-
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22 Dec 2006 - 11:57am
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

> So in the web application, we built numerous ways for them to deal
> with interruptions. The most obvious being a way to "set aside"
> whatever they were doing in the UI and deal with the new request,
> then with a single click return to where they were.

Very nice solution, providing those multiple open pieces are manageable.
Kudos.

And I think you may definitely have gained all of your insight into the
activity by studying the people performing it. I've said this very thing
many times - even in my book. If studying the activity means studying the
people, then by all means, study the people. (*IF* you have time, that is.
In my experience, you rarely have time unless you work for a UX firm.)

But at what point did it become vital to create personas - archetypal users
- to help your design work? And why? And in what way did the personas help
you? You already knew your users were very busy people, so why was a persona
necessary? Did you need them to convince other people your users were busy?
Did you need them to justify your design work? Was it a political decision?

-r-

22 Dec 2006 - 12:33pm
Becubed
2004

> >So in the web application, we built numerous ways for them to deal
> >with interruptions.
> If studying the activity means studying the people, then by all
> means, study the people. (*IF* you have time, that is. In my
> experience, you rarely have time unless you work for a UX firm.)

Hmm, good food for thought. Honestly, we could have studied only the
activity here: it's a web app, so data was available; the job is
dictated in many ways by corporate policies and workflows; general
standards and approaches to project management are easy to find, so
we could have merely encoded best practices.

But had we done that, we'd have totally missed out on some "aha!"
moments, such as the impact of interruptions on the job.

And BTW, yeah, we're a UX firm, as a data point to support Robert H's
theory. <grin>

> But at what point did it become vital to create personas -
> archetypal users - to help your design work? And why? And in what
> way did the personas help you? You already knew your users were
> very busy people, so why was a persona necessary? Did you need them
> to convince other people your users were busy? Did you need them to
> justify your design work? Was it a political decision?

As I mentioned yesterday, the real value of this exercise is in the
*discovery* of key insights. It was our field work here that really
mattered; the personas were simply a way to share what we learned. So
why personas? It's true that we could have communicated the findings
another way.

First of all, by crafting a set of characters, people who weren't
involved in the field research could have a crystal-clear picture in
their mind of that typically vague term "the user". As a result, they
felt empathy -- and I caution against underestimating the value of
this. I believe it was the power of character and narrative that
helped our client commit to new features such as those for dealing
with interruptions.

Typical of this sort of work, the resulting insights weren't just a
mashup of stuff we learned; patterns were discernable. Personas are a
good way to illustrate those patterns. Even if we hadn't created
personas as such, it would have been critical to present our findings
according to pattern A, pattern B, and so on. The main difference
between this and a persona is the format: assigning an identity and
producing a narrative. Other people can argue the power of character
and narrative better than me, so I'll leave it to them. :-)

What is it that marks "great design"? In large part, I believe it's a
sense of elegant cohesion; the parts fit together beautifully into a
whole that makes sense -- and even if we're not squarely in the
target audience, we can still recognize this elegance. IMHO, personas
are useful because they are themselves elegantly coherent and
therefore useful as tools to help inform our decisions about design.

Note I said *inform* design, not *specify*. Personas shouldn't
dictate design decisions, just as users/customers shouldn't.

Great discussion! I absolutely agree that "personas" has become too
much of a buzzword, and I typically rebel against anything that
reaches that status. But I've had far more success with personas than
failures, so I'm jumping to their defense anyway.

--
Robert Barlow-Busch
Practice Director, Interaction Design
Quarry Integrated Communications Inc.
rbarlowbusch at quarry.com
(519) 570-2020

This e-mail message (including any attachments) is intended only for
the use of the individual to whom it is addressed and may contain
information that is privileged, proprietary, confidential or subject
to copyright. If you are not the intended recipient, you are
notified that any use, dissemination, distribution or reproduction of
this communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this
communication in error, please notify the sender and delete this e-
mail message immediately.

22 Dec 2006 - 1:51pm
Brett Williams
2006

I recently joined this list and have very much enjoyed the insightful
comments, ideas, suggestions and overall humorous banter.

I wanted to chime in on this discussion with my somewhat different
perspective. IxD is merely one of the many "hats" or "roles" that I
perform, or really always have performed throughout my career . . .
being a partner of an Interactive Design Studio, and then working for
small technology startup companies being the reason.

For pretty much the last 7 years, my primary experience has been in
web-based application development in a B2B environment. In this
environment, designing a successful solution HAS to be focused the
user(s) and their role(s) and function(s). Furthermore, there must be
a high level of flexibility to adapt to an individual companies
business needs and rules (for example, management hiararchy for
business intelligence reporting).

From 1999 to 2003, I was Director of Product Management at
MedCenterDirect.com (Healthcare B2B), and I wore many hats including
Interactation/UI designer. It was an exciting opportunity because it
was a startup company, so we were building everything from scratch -
vision to reality kinda thing. The first thing I did, with a couple
of companions, was take a three week trip visiting a wide variety of
our future clients' sites; acute care hospitals, outpatient surgery
centers, inpatient rehab centers, outpatient rehab centers and
corporate headquarters. Within each of these facilities we
interviewed all the potential users, as well as watched them in
action performing their duties. This was was not just instrumental in
the success of our application, it was critical. Because, not only
did we learn a lot about what they wanted and needed, and what was
good about their process, but we also learned what was wrong with
their process - inefficiencies that even they didn't "see" or "know".
(Side note: remember, "this is just the way we do it" isn't an
acceptable answer.)

Based on my findings, I enlisted users from a variety of facilities
and roles and created the Market Acceptance Group (MAG). I branded it
and made it something that these people were proud to be a part of
for their company . . . giving them tremendous exposure for this
important company initiative. In return, I had created a virtual
focus group that I was able to use throughout the entire SDLC (use
cases, prototyping, beta testing and deployment in particular for
MAG). By the time we released the first version, as well as future
releases of our application, I had extreme confidence that what I
designed (both from interaction and functional perspective) worked
for my entire user base. I had 30 power users who felt ownership with
the application and not only were singing its praises, but would
actually assist in training and technical support to their fellow
employees. It was an almost guaranteed formula for success.

So after this long-winded message, what's my point???

Not only did I engage my users, I recruited them . . . I made them an
active part of the design process . . . I implied ownership in "our"
collective application . . . and I always had a great answer for the
question why? no matter if it was asked by a user, my boss, or the
CEO. To prove my point, although MedCenterDirect didn't survive the
dot-com mania, "our" application SmartOrder is still being used to
this day . . . for that I am proud, and I know it wouldn't have
happened without both listening and watching.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to All,

bw

Brett Williams
VP, Information Technology
ChoiceMED, LLC
www.choicemeddata.com

On Dec 22, 2006, at 11:57 AM, Robert Hoekman, Jr. wrote:

>> So in the web application, we built numerous ways for them to deal
>> with interruptions. The most obvious being a way to "set aside"
>> whatever they were doing in the UI and deal with the new request,
>> then with a single click return to where they were.
>
>
> Very nice solution, providing those multiple open pieces are
> manageable.
> Kudos.
>
> And I think you may definitely have gained all of your insight into
> the
> activity by studying the people performing it. I've said this very
> thing
> many times - even in my book. If studying the activity means
> studying the
> people, then by all means, study the people. (*IF* you have time,
> that is.
> In my experience, you rarely have time unless you work for a UX firm.)
>
> But at what point did it become vital to create personas -
> archetypal users
> - to help your design work? And why? And in what way did the
> personas help
> you? You already knew your users were very busy people, so why was
> a persona
> necessary? Did you need them to convince other people your users
> were busy?
> Did you need them to justify your design work? Was it a political
> decision?
>
> -r-
> ________________________________________________________________
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22 Dec 2006 - 2:33pm
Austin Govella
2004

On 12/21/06, Robert Hoekman, Jr. <rhoekmanjr at gmail.com> wrote:
> How, exactly, is any of this information going to "change" the way she
> uses the software? Does it mean you're going to put the checkboxes in
> a different place? Sorry if that seems snide, but seriously, how does
> it really "change" anything?

Surely that goes to context of use. The busy soccer mom with two young
boys. Always in the Land Rover.

Maybe that means she'll only log in once a month for five minutes in
between helping the boys with their homework and making dinner. That
means she'll never progress to being an intermediate user, so you
entire interface is designed for beginners.

Or maybe she's *always* in the Land Rover, so instead of pretty online
data visualizations, you really need something that prints out in low
res black & white. (She never has time to buy new cartridges for her
printer.) Maybe folding the print-out into thirds fits perfectly on
the LR dashboard. And in half one more time fits perfectly in her
jeans pocket. (She prefers not to carry a purse when ferrying the boys
around.)

And maybe she's in the LR so much she's never at your interface, so
what she really needs is an easy way to SMS data in and out.

More context is more context. Seems like the busy mom with two boys
who spends lots of time in a Land Rover changes your interface a lot.
Definitely agree personas should focus on the right details. But a
user model is just a model. It's the designers job to infer how that
model might affect the interface (and maybe validate those
inferences).

--
Austin

22 Dec 2006 - 3:29pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

> More context is more context. Seems like the busy mom with two boys
> who spends lots of time in a Land Rover changes your interface a lot.
> Definitely agree personas should focus on the right details. But a
> user model is just a model. It's the designers job to infer how that
> model might affect the interface (and maybe validate those
> inferences).

You've left the activity itself completely out of your description. So, yes,
the info from your persona here certainly has a direct influence on your
interface decisions, but what's the activity the persona is trying to
complete?

Are you sure you couldn't have come up with the same ideas without the
persona? Are you sure you can't get management buy-in without personae? Are
you sure that by focusing on the activity instead of the audience you
couldn't have devised a great solution that worked for more than Land Rover
woman?

Better question: Are you sure that focusing on Land Rover woman isn't
leading you to alienate other audiences?

Best of all: Why is it that I can use Target.com just as easily as anyone
else? The tone of the site seems clearly geared towards women - let's say
Sarah, mid-30's, 2.3 kids, driving a Honda Civic, with a strong belief in
traditional family values.

I meet none of these criteria, yet I can use the site just as easily as
Sarah.

Seems to me, especially considering how several people answered the question
about how personas *change* software, that personas lend themselves more to
describing the tone of the application, the lingo, the look and feel, the
overall vibe.

Personally, I've seen far too many debriefings of personae and user stories
(which are different, obviously), etc, end with the statement, "... so it
needs to be really easy to use."

Well, duh. Unless you're designing something that is *supposed* to be
complicated, like a video game, isn't it pretty damn obvious that it needs
to be simple? Can we not realize from our own insanely complicated lives
that the world is ridiculously complex, and simple solutions are more likely
to get used and are more likely to be understandable?

-r-

22 Dec 2006 - 4:31pm
liyazheng
2005

Hey Dan,

How about experience prototyping.
http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=347802&coll=Portal&dl=GUIDE&CFID=7
577216&CFTOKEN=16801774

I have been brainstorming with a design partner lately how we would do
experience prototyping in a trading environment. I would love to hear
about how others who are as involved as IDEO in doing service design
share case studies applying Service Design thinking to their process
work and validation techniques.

Happy Holidays!

- Liya

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Dan
Saffer
Sent: Wednesday, December 20, 2006 12:12 PM
To: ixd-discussion
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] New IxD Techniques to Try in 2007

Hi!

I'm putting together a list of new IxD methods and techniques I've
found that I want to try next year:

http://www.odannyboy.com/blog/new_archives/2006/12/new_interaction.html

Oddly enough, however, looking back over the blogs I follow, I didn't
find too many new methods this year. (Just personas, personas,
personas!)

What new methods are you going to try?

Dan

Dan Saffer, IDSA
http://www.designingforinteraction.com book | work http://
www.adaptivepath.com
http://www.noideasbutinthings.com project | site http://
www.odannyboy.com

________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
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22 Dec 2006 - 4:48pm
Josh Seiden
2003

If all we did was figure out where to put check boxes, then I would agree,
personas are of little help. (In fact, I'm not sure if we really need any
models for this kind of question--except perhaps sequence models.) But this
is a really reductive way to look at our work.

The more important questions-- like, "what should the software do in the
first place?"--are enabled by good models about what people are trying to
achieve. And personas are one good way to model this.

JS

On 12/21/06, Robert Hoekman, Jr. <rhoekmanjr at gmail.com> wrote:
>
>
>
> And therein lies the rub.
>
> How, exactly, is any of this information going to "change" the way she
> uses the software? Does it mean you're going to put the checkboxes in
> a different place? Sorry if that seems snide, but seriously, how does
> it really "change" anything?
>
> -r

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