Examples where personas are *not* useful

13 Nov 2007 - 3:19pm
6 years ago
138 replies
3747 reads
oliver green
2006

Hi everyone,

I am trying to understand the finer nuances of using personas. The
various articles/book chapters that I have read talk about instances
where using personas would be useful. But I feel that to really
understand a methodology, one should be familiar with the weaknesses
as well. So, can you give me examples where using personas would not
be advisable/helpful?

Thanks,
Oliver

Comments

13 Nov 2007 - 4:24pm
Alan Cooper
2004

Oliver,

The place where personas would not be useful is where the persona is
elaborate camouflage for a designer creating self-referential solutions.
In other words, personas help designers design for users. When personas
are used to help designers design for themselves instead, that would be
bad.

Thanx,
Alan Cooper

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
oliver green
Sent: Tuesday, November 13, 2007 12:19 PM
To: discuss at lists.interactiondesigners.com
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Examples where personas are *not* useful

Hi everyone,

I am trying to understand the finer nuances of using personas. The
various articles/book chapters that I have read talk about instances
where using personas would be useful. But I feel that to really
understand a methodology, one should be familiar with the weaknesses
as well. So, can you give me examples where using personas would not
be advisable/helpful?

Thanks,
Oliver
________________________________________________________________
*Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
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13 Nov 2007 - 4:41pm
Ian Chan
2005

Oliver,

Insofar as they work best as a heuristic, that is in developing a
design solution and educating the client about your approach, they
can be very good. But they're illustrative. They help us, as
designers, think through the user needs and interests. And connect
those with the user's daily routines and related activities.

Where they're weak is in their one-dimensionality. Perhaps they could
be supplemented with a report of contextualized activities, and use
cases in which a design is consumed. In many cases I think the
context of activity is more important than persona.

As a heuristic though they're a useful device.

adrianb

On Nov 13, 2007, at 12:19 PM, oliver green wrote:

> Hi everyone,
>
> I am trying to understand the finer nuances of using personas. The
> various articles/book chapters that I have read talk about instances
> where using personas would be useful. But I feel that to really
> understand a methodology, one should be familiar with the weaknesses
> as well. So, can you give me examples where using personas would not
> be advisable/helpful?
>
> Thanks,
> Oliver
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

Adrian chan | 415 516 4442 | www.gravity7.com

http://www.gravity7.com/blog/media/ Social Interaction Design Blog

http://www.gravity7.com/blog/film/ Film Review and Film theory Blog

http://www.linkedin.com/in/adrianchan LinkedIn

http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=50853921 Facebook

13 Nov 2007 - 5:33pm
Robert Reimann
2003

Hi Oliver,

Personas are a powerful and widely applicable design tool, but they do
have their caveats.

Personas are more difficult to develop for consumer products as
opposed to professional applications where roles are clearly
delineated. The former requires more extensive (usually qualitative)
user research to determine the behavior patterns that underly the
potential user types, which tend to be based on lifestyle choices that
can be fuzzy and thus tricky to tease apart. Similarly, projects that
are more exploratory or blue sky in nature, e.g., the future of
television, are more difficult to apply personas to, because the
customer research necessary would need to be fairly broad (dozens of
field interviews) to yield meaningful outcomes. That said, personas
(especially when validated with quantitative research) are still very
useful to such an endeavor; the weakness lies in the amount of work
and time required to get useful results.

Personas are descriptive of behavior patterns as they currently exist.
They are not, on their own, necessarily predictors of behavior change
in the wake of disruptive technologies (though they can help designers
understand this with the right supporting data). Finally, as Adrian
points out, personas are of limited use without accompanying scenarios
that explicate context-based activities, tasks, and goals. I would not
agree that activities/scenarios are more important than personas; that
is like saying that the story line of a novel is more important than
its characters: one cannot properly exist without the other.

Robert.

On Nov 13, 2007 12:19 PM, oliver green <oliverhci at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hi everyone,
>
> I am trying to understand the finer nuances of using personas. The
> various articles/book chapters that I have read talk about instances
> where using personas would be useful. But I feel that to really
> understand a methodology, one should be familiar with the weaknesses
> as well. So, can you give me examples where using personas would not
> be advisable/helpful?
>
> Thanks,
> Oliver
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

--
Robert Reimann
President
Interaction Design Association (IxDA)

Associate Creative Director
frog design
Seattle, WA

13 Nov 2007 - 9:39pm
Josh Seiden
2003

I find that they're of limited use if you're designing for a small,
local, specific user population.

For example, I recently worked with an internal IT group that was
building an enterprise application for a department of about 100
users. The development team sat in the same building as the users, and
we could drop in and watch the users work at any time. In this
situation, there was very little need for abstraction or user
modeling, and so we didn't bother with personas.

On another recent project, (for a different company) the team
developed personas, even though we were designing for a similar
internal user group. The internal users HATED the personas that were
created to represent them. The design team found the personas to be
useful tools internally, but made the political decision to never
again show the personas publicly.

JS

On Nov 13, 2007 5:33 PM, Robert Reimann <rmreimann at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hi Oliver,
>
> Personas are a powerful and widely applicable design tool, but they do
> have their caveats.

14 Nov 2007 - 4:28am
Bruce Esrig
2006

Building on Robert's point ... if the environment is new enough, you may
not know what the key behaviors are that your personas should exhibit. So
in that situation, your design and your personas will co-evolve, each
influencing the other.

What you know about the new environment may be limited to a conceptual
model, some scenarios built on it, and perhaps an architectural model that
explains how the solution will be structured.

The initial testing that you do on your scenarios and conceptual models
provides inputs for persona development. You can postulate personas for
this artificial environment as a way of envisioning how various target
audiences will be served and how they will respond. These personas will be
spectators at the research events that you hold to validate the scenarios
and the models. That is, as you evaluate the data, and struggle to explain
the variation in the responses, you'll start to see persona qualities
emerging. There's no way to validate these vibes that you're getting about
the personas until later, because until the environment is defined well
enough to build some kind of design prototype, users can't respond to it.

This happens in training also. The reason that training is designed around
objectives and tasks is that if you ask a student what they need to know,
they usually can't tell you. Only an experienced person who knows the
environment that needs to be learned can say what needs to be in the
training. The objectives and tasks serve to outline the expertise of the
experienced person. Given those, you can evaluate the student's preparation
against the objectives and tasks, and figure out where their skill gaps are.

In both cases (radically new environments and other learning situations),
it's necessary to do some modeling before trying to draw conclusions about
how users would respond, or about how representative users would respond.
What makes this an obstacle to persona development is that you may not be
able to determine at first what is significant about the users in order to
understand how they vary.

User behavior is emergent, and emergent phenomena have to be observed. When
the situation is new enough, you have to build it and observe it before
you'll know what the typical behaviors are. You might have a very nice
repertoire of personas, and yet you might not be able to put the
differences that matter into those personas until (as late as when) your
users get a bit of experience with the environment that you're creating.

This is why experience design around behavior is such a great idea. If you
observe the behavior first, and then design an environment to support it,
your personas are already live and active, and your typical users can just
fit right in.

Best wishes,

Bruce Esrig

At 05:33 PM 11/13/2007, Robert Reimann wrote:
>Hi Oliver,
>
>Personas are a powerful and widely applicable design tool, but they do
>have their caveats. ....
>
>Personas are descriptive of behavior patterns as they currently exist.
>They are not, on their own, necessarily predictors of behavior change
>in the wake of disruptive technologies (though they can help designers
>understand this with the right supporting data). Finally, as Adrian
>points out, personas are of limited use without accompanying scenarios
>that explicate context-based activities, tasks, and goals. ....

>Robert.
>
>On Nov 13, 2007 12:19 PM, oliver green <oliverhci at gmail.com> wrote:
> > Hi everyone,
> >
> > I am trying to understand the finer nuances of using personas.

14 Nov 2007 - 1:24pm
joshuakaufman
2007

Jason Fried of 37signals wrote this biased but worthwhile critique of
personas not too long ago:
http://www.37signals.com/svn/posts/690-ask-37signals-personas

On Nov 13, 2007, at 12:19 PM, oliver green wrote:

> So, can you give me examples where using personas would not
> be advisable/helpful?

14 Nov 2007 - 1:43pm
seele@obso1337.org
2005

On Wednesday 14 November 2007 13:24:12 Joshua Kaufman wrote:
> Jason Fried of 37signals wrote this biased but worthwhile critique of
> personas not too long ago:
> http://www.37signals.com/svn/posts/690-ask-37signals-personas

I'm not sure how informed Jason Fried is of what a persona really is. He
states:

"They’re [personas are] artificial, abstract, and fictitious."

Which is incorrect. Personas are based on a real person and real data. If
they are not, then they are not personas. This seems to be a common
misunderstanding when it comes to using and contructing them.

Sure, there is a danger in relying in personas too much to understand who you
are designing for, but

A) that danger exists for any artifact of user research
B) theyre better than nothing

I think Fried's suggestion of hyper focusing on a single person you know is
more dangerous than relying on fuzzy user research.

> On Nov 13, 2007, at 12:19 PM, oliver green wrote:
> > So, can you give me examples where using personas would not
> > be advisable/helpful?
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

--
Celeste 'seele' Paul
www.obso1337.org

14 Nov 2007 - 1:55pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

I could go on all day about why personas are not useful, but you've all
heard it before. :)
Here's a podcast of a panel on the subject from SxSW last year with Mark
Schraad, Christina Wodtke, Sarah Bloomer, and myself:

http://tinyurl.com/ysgbgh

-r-

14 Nov 2007 - 1:58pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

>
> I'm not sure how informed Jason Fried is of what a persona really is.

I can't find a URL, but I swear he said once that he used to use them and
eventually turned against them.

"They're [personas are] artificial, abstract, and fictitious."
>
> Which is incorrect. Personas are based on a real person and real
> data. If
> they are not, then they are not personas.

They're not based on a real person, they're based on real *people*. They're
a hybrid, archetypal representation of many people. That, by definition,
makes them artificial and fictitious, does it not?

More semantic debates, I suppose, but worth pointing out, I think.

-r-

14 Nov 2007 - 2:24pm
Sara Summers
2006

Jason touched on that during his opening remarks at sxsw interactive 2006.
Which I can't seem to find the podcast for either...
He said that instead, they made Basecamp with simple features, then launched
and opened the discussion to the community, the same model that Mozilla
uses.

I enjoy this process more myself, as it seems to invoke interest, personal
ownership, and community synergy.

Sara Summers
visual | interaction design
512-297-1330
sara at meccabug.com

----- Original Message -----
From: "Robert Hoekman, Jr." <robert at rhjr.net>
To: "Celeste 'seele' Paul" <seele at obso1337.org>
Cc: <discuss at lists.interactiondesigners.com>
Sent: Wednesday, November 14, 2007 12:58 PM
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Examples where personas are *not* useful

> >
>> I'm not sure how informed Jason Fried is of what a persona really is.
>
>
> I can't find a URL, but I swear he said once that he used to use them and
> eventually turned against them.
>
> "They're [personas are] artificial, abstract, and fictitious."

14 Nov 2007 - 2:24pm
Sara Summers
2006

Jason touched on that during his opening remarks at sxsw interactive 2006.
Which I can't seem to find the podcast for either...
He said that instead, they made Basecamp with simple features, then launched
and opened the discussion to the community, the same model that Mozilla
uses.

I enjoy this process more myself, as it seems to invoke interest, personal
ownership, and community synergy.

Sara Summers
visual | interaction design
512-297-1330
sara at meccabug.com

----- Original Message -----
From: "Robert Hoekman, Jr." <robert at rhjr.net>
To: "Celeste 'seele' Paul" <seele at obso1337.org>
Cc: <discuss at lists.interactiondesigners.com>
Sent: Wednesday, November 14, 2007 12:58 PM
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Examples where personas are *not* useful

> >
>> I'm not sure how informed Jason Fried is of what a persona really is.
>
>
> I can't find a URL, but I swear he said once that he used to use them and
> eventually turned against them.
>
> "They're [personas are] artificial, abstract, and fictitious."

14 Nov 2007 - 2:48pm
Mark Schraad
2006

OK - this discussion has gotten more than a bit silly.

If you are the target group that you are developing for (as in 37signals), of course you do not need personas. You essentially ARE the persona... only better! This should not be taken as advice unless you (the design and development team) are the target audience for the product.

Further, personas ARE fictional. But they should be based upon research with real users and then validated.

On Wednesday, November 14, 2007, at 01:27PM, "Joshua Kaufman" <jmk at unraveled.com> wrote:
>Jason Fried of 37signals wrote this biased but worthwhile critique of
>personas not too long ago:
>http://www.37signals.com/svn/posts/690-ask-37signals-personas
>

14 Nov 2007 - 2:54pm
Dan Brown
2004

I *could* argue that 37Signals *does* use personas, though it would be
a semantic argument. Jason refers to "our problems", which suggests to
me a summary of a collection of users. He just happens to know all the
users who make up that summary representation. Maybe he doesn't like
to call that a persona because to call it such wouldn't be
controversial.

The bottom line is that he visualizes users, makes decisions based on
information about users, and prioritizes decisions based on that
information.

Designers in other contexts (larger organizations, complex
applications, etc.) may not have the luxury of personally knowing
representatives of the target audience.

-- Dan

On 11/14/07, Sara Summers <sara at meccabug.com> wrote:
> Jason touched on that during his opening remarks at sxsw interactive 2006.
> Which I can't seem to find the podcast for either...
> He said that instead, they made Basecamp with simple features, then launched
> and opened the discussion to the community, the same model that Mozilla
> uses.
>
> I enjoy this process more myself, as it seems to invoke interest, personal
> ownership, and community synergy.
>
> Sara Summers
> visual | interaction design
> 512-297-1330
> sara at meccabug.com
>
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Robert Hoekman, Jr." <robert at rhjr.net>
> To: "Celeste 'seele' Paul" <seele at obso1337.org>
> Cc: <discuss at lists.interactiondesigners.com>
> Sent: Wednesday, November 14, 2007 12:58 PM
> Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Examples where personas are *not* useful
>
>
> > >
> >> I'm not sure how informed Jason Fried is of what a persona really is.
> >
> >
> > I can't find a URL, but I swear he said once that he used to use them and
> > eventually turned against them.
> >
> > "They're [personas are] artificial, abstract, and fictitious."
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
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>

--
| work: eightshapes.com
| book: communicatingdesign.com
| blog: greenonions.com
| talk: +1 (301) 801-4850

14 Nov 2007 - 11:10pm
KS Wang
2007

>From personal experience, personas are useful as a shared reference
and effective at bringing user-centric design ideas across entire
team involved in developing the product.

However, personas will not be able to define how the users are going
to carry out the task or how they are going to approach their goals.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://gamma.ixda.org/discuss?post=22531

14 Nov 2007 - 11:28pm
SemanticWill
2007

To some degree - yes - But:
"personas will not be able to define how the users are going
to carry out the task or how they are going to approach their goals."

If a UX/IxD is creating personas that do not include high importance
scenarios/narratives/comics of users accomplishing certain goals - then you
have not created a persona.

For those folks on the list that don't know formal methodologies - both
quantative and qualitative, for user research leading to persona creation -
read Steve Mulder's The User Is Always
Right<http://www.amazon.com/User-Always-Right-Practical-Creating/dp/0321434536>...

Persona's are not created by a bunch of UX people sitting around with
product management and business stake holders and just pulling user
segmented persona archtypes out of there butts - and if it is - your not
creating personas and they are almost as useless and dangerous as developing
prototypes, use cases and requirements with no concept of the potential or
existing customer.
Also - read the book - Mike Kunievsky's Observing the User
Experience<http://www.amazon.com/Observing-User-Experience-Practitioners-Technologies/dp/1558609237>.
I get very worried about the state of our community of practice when I hear
strong, bold, assertive statements. I also get worried because there are
methods/practices/processes for doing alot of good stuff - and you aren't
going to get that from reading a couple of articles on B&A and looking at
sample personas. We have methods for doing what we do. It would be like
reading an article in the NEJM and thinking you are qualified to make
assertive statements about heart surgery.

On Wed, 14 Nov 2007 20:10:22, kswang <kswang81 at gmail.com> wrote:

> >From personal experience, personas are useful as a shared reference
> and effective at bringing user-centric design ideas across entire
> team involved in developing the product.
>
> However, personas will not be able to define how the users are going
> to carry out the task or how they are going to approach their goals.
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://gamma.ixda.org/discuss?post=22531
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

--
~ will

"Where you innovate, how you innovate,
and what you innovate are design problems"
-------------------------------------------------------
will evans
user experience architect
wkevans4 at gmail.com
-------------------------------------------------------

15 Nov 2007 - 12:06am
Eric Scheid
2006

On 14/11/07 8:10 PM, "kswang" <kswang81 at gmail.com> wrote:

> However, personas will not be able to define how the users are going
> to carry out the task or how they are going to approach their goals.

I've distilled observed user behaviour into written personas along these
lines .. one persona might be described as being a playful explorer, another
a methodical and cautious planner, and a third as a smash-n-grab drive-by
visitor type, amongst other approaches.

That's usually enough to make the penny drop and prevent grounding by the
designers.

e.

15 Nov 2007 - 1:01am
KS Wang
2007

On 14/11/07 8:10 PM, "W Evans" wrote:

>If a UX/IxD is creating personas that do >not include high
importance >scenarios/narratives/comics of users >accomplishing
certain goals - then you have >not created a persona.

Personas are descriptive of behavior patterns as they currently exist
or based on past observed behaviors, but they may not predict behavior
change or caters for the unexpected behaviors, which can be based on
the culture as well .

On 14/11/07 8:10 PM, "Eric Scheid" wrote:

>I've distilled observed user behaviour into >written personas along
these lines one >persona might be described as being a >playful
explorer, another a methodical and >cautious planner, and a third as
a >smash-n-grab drive-by visitor type, amongst >other approaches.

Sounds ok, but how is this able to cater for unexpected behaviors? I
am uncomfortable with including predicted user behaviors or the way
the persona in question is going to approach the task, because I feel
that it borders on relying on "gut feeling" which in my opinion
should not be the way to coming up with a persona.

p.s: Can someone enlighten me how to "reply" and quote comments?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://gamma.ixda.org/discuss?post=22531

15 Nov 2007 - 6:35am
SemanticWill
2007

"Sounds ok, but how is this able to cater for unexpected behaviors? I
am uncomfortable with including predicted user behaviors or the way
the persona in question is going to approach the task, because I feel
that it borders on relying on "gut feeling" which in my opinion
should not be the way to coming up with a persona."

Huge caveat - many/most/some clients are not going to be willing to pay for
a full blown user research project to generate personas. But to some extent
this too can be found - or at least some generalized ideas about
expected/unexpected behaviors and attitudes if we imagine a four quandrant
box of different types of user research. Along one axis is qualitative to
quantitative research, on the other axis is what users say they want/need/do
versus what research shows they actually want/need/do. You can imagine using
a combination of surveys and interviews (qualitative), to generate plots on
a graph that clearly show what users "think" are their goals and
motivators/attitudes, and then log file analysis and videotaped usability
studies to show what they "actually" do to come up with unexpected behaviors
versus expected. Log files don't lie. CRM data doesn't lie. Down-side - at
least for log files and crm data - that only exists for web-based products.
For thick client applicatiosn, kiosks, devices - you are going to have to
rely heavily on usability tests and won't have much else. Another caveat
about surveys - people lie. Not intentionally, but research has shown that
often times users "Dont even know what they just did" and when they take a
survey - even an anonymous one on the computer they are using - there is the
tendency to want to please the machine - google the article on "Silicon
Syncophants".
http://www2.sims.berkeley.edu/courses/is213/s01/lectures/Lecture19.ppt

Which is fascinating.

Off to work :-)

--
~ will

"Where you innovate, how you innovate,
and what you innovate are design problems"
-------------------------------------------------------
will evans
user experience architect
wkevans4 at gmail.com
-------------------------------------------------------

15 Nov 2007 - 12:06pm
Pierre Roberge
2005

When I first encountered personas and worked with them I realized that personas are really a problem solving tool. To solve a problem you need to understand the reality within which you want to apply a solution. Personas are just a way (a very good one) of capturing the knowledge of the people impacted by a solution. By the same token, if we want to capture the reality of the computer system we are designing around, somebody could design a tool to capture the capabilities and the constraints of the system. If we want to capture the reality of the business that will sell the solution, we could design a tool to capture the profile of the business (some ex-cooper employees have already done that).

To reiterate, personas are a profiling tool to better understand people. To me, profiling tools are always useful to create a good solution. Regardless what they are profiling. Depending on time, not everybody creates personas on paper but I think we all have some sense (good or bad, conscious or inconscious) of who we are designing for.

Bonne Journée!

Pierre Roberge
User Experience Designer - Business Analyst
etfs

http://www.etfsinc.com/

15 Nov 2007 - 9:56pm
White, Jeff
2007

I have used them in the past, but only when time & resources were
abundant. One weakness is the effort it takes to develop and verify
them properly. Also, getting those personas to become a part of daily
work for engineers and others can be a challenge. But they were
helpful in educating upper management about UCD in general.

We're in an agile development environment now - our team discussed
using personas, but that's as far as it went. Instead we've relied
heavily on interviews, observation & usability testing, all with
really lightweight documentation and lots of verbal reports back to
team members.

Jeff

On Nov 13, 2007 3:19 PM, oliver green <oliverhci at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hi everyone,
>
> I am trying to understand the finer nuances of using personas. The
> various articles/book chapters that I have read talk about instances
> where using personas would be useful. But I feel that to really
> understand a methodology, one should be familiar with the weaknesses
> as well. So, can you give me examples where using personas would not
> be advisable/helpful?
>
> Thanks,
> Oliver
> ________________________________________________________________
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16 Nov 2007 - 12:43am
cfmdesigns
2004

On Nov 13, 2007, at 1:24 PM, Alan Cooper wrote:

> The place where personas would not be useful is where the persona is
> elaborate camouflage for a designer creating self-referential
> solutions.
> In other words, personas help designers design for users. When
> personas
> are used to help designers design for themselves instead, that would
> be bad.

That's where poorly created personas aren't useful, not where personas
in general aren't useful, no?

-- Jim Drew
Seattle, WA

16 Nov 2007 - 9:10am
White, Jeff
2007

I took it that way too, Jim.

Kind of like asking a pizza guru when pizza wouldn't be the ideal meal
to consume, and she goes "when it's not made right". :-)

Jeff

On Nov 16, 2007 12:43 AM, Jim Drew <cfmdesigns at earthlink.net> wrote:
>
> On Nov 13, 2007, at 1:24 PM, Alan Cooper wrote:
>
> > The place where personas would not be useful is where the persona is
> > elaborate camouflage for a designer creating self-referential
> > solutions.
> > In other words, personas help designers design for users. When
> > personas
> > are used to help designers design for themselves instead, that would
> > be bad.
>
> That's where poorly created personas aren't useful, not where personas
> in general aren't useful, no?
>
> -- Jim Drew
> Seattle, WA
>
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

16 Nov 2007 - 9:20am
Jared M. Spool
2003

I think what Alan was trying to say is this:

Personas are a tool for helping a team understand better who their
key users are and what those users need from the design.

If the team already understands this, then they don't need personas.

One context where a team may already understand this is when they are
designing for themselves. In this case, personas won't add much value.

(I wrote more about this here: http://tinyurl.com/2hpxzr )

Jared

Jared M. Spool
User Interface Engineering
510 Turnpike St., Suite 102, North Andover, MA 01845
e: jspool at uie.com p: +1 978 327 5561
http://uie.com Blog: http://uie.com/brainsparks

On Nov 16, 2007, at 9:10 AM, Jeff White wrote:

> I took it that way too, Jim.
>
> Kind of like asking a pizza guru when pizza wouldn't be the ideal meal
> to consume, and she goes "when it's not made right". :-)
>
> Jeff
>
> On Nov 16, 2007 12:43 AM, Jim Drew <cfmdesigns at earthlink.net> wrote:
>>
>> On Nov 13, 2007, at 1:24 PM, Alan Cooper wrote:
>>
>>> The place where personas would not be useful is where the
>>> persona is
>>> elaborate camouflage for a designer creating self-referential
>>> solutions.
>>> In other words, personas help designers design for users. When
>>> personas
>>> are used to help designers design for themselves instead, that would
>>> be bad.
>>
>> That's where poorly created personas aren't useful, not where
>> personas
>> in general aren't useful, no?

16 Nov 2007 - 9:34am
White, Jeff
2007

I took it way differently. What I read was "when personas are based on
the pre-conceived assumptions and biases a designer may have, then
that is bad."

So, when the personas are not built on objective research, they are
not correct and thus not helpful. I really don't know what the true
intent of his statement was, but that's how I took it. Seems like
common sense that designers wouldn't need a persona of themselves if
they are building for, well, themselves.

Jeff

On Nov 16, 2007 9:20 AM, Jared M. Spool <jspool at uie.com> wrote:
> I think what Alan was trying to say is this:
>
> Personas are a tool for helping a team understand better who their key users
> are and what those users need from the design.
>
> If the team already understands this, then they don't need personas.
>
> One context where a team may already understand this is when they are
> designing for themselves. In this case, personas won't add much value.
>
> (I wrote more about this here: http://tinyurl.com/2hpxzr )
>
> Jared
>
> Jared M. Spool
> User Interface Engineering
> 510 Turnpike St., Suite 102, North Andover, MA 01845
> e: jspool at uie.com p: +1 978 327 5561
> http://uie.com Blog: http://uie.com/brainsparks
>
>
> On Nov 16, 2007, at 9:10 AM, Jeff White wrote:
>
>
> I took it that way too, Jim.
>
>
>
>
> Kind of like asking a pizza guru when pizza wouldn't be the ideal meal
>
> to consume, and she goes "when it's not made right". :-)
>
>
>
>
> Jeff
>
>
>
>
> On Nov 16, 2007 12:43 AM, Jim Drew <cfmdesigns at earthlink.net> wrote:
>
>
>
>
>
> On Nov 13, 2007, at 1:24 PM, Alan Cooper wrote:
>
>
>
>
>
> The place where personas would not be useful is where the persona is
>
> elaborate camouflage for a designer creating self-referential
>
> solutions.
>
> In other words, personas help designers design for users. When
>
> personas
>
> are used to help designers design for themselves instead, that would
>
> be bad.
>
>
>
>
> That's where poorly created personas aren't useful, not where personas
>
> in general aren't useful, no?
>

16 Nov 2007 - 9:39am
Todd Roberts
2005

I think there is a danger though that many people/groups are using personas
that are poorly constructed because they seem so easy in concept but are not
as easy to create/use well. The scenario Alan provides is just one of many
misuses.

This relates to a comment someone made earlier, that personas are "better
than nothing." In the case where a persona is poorly constructed or
misinterpreted, it may be worse than nothing.

(The "better than nothing" sentiment also ignores the opportunity cost of
personas but I don't know how one would estimate that.)

On Nov 16, 2007 12:43 AM, Jim Drew <cfmdesigns at earthlink.net> wrote:

>
> On Nov 13, 2007, at 1:24 PM, Alan Cooper wrote:
>
> > The place where personas would not be useful is where the persona is
> > elaborate camouflage for a designer creating self-referential
> > solutions.
> > In other words, personas help designers design for users. When
> > personas
> > are used to help designers design for themselves instead, that would
> > be bad.
>
> That's where poorly created personas aren't useful, not where personas
> in general aren't useful, no?
>
> -- Jim Drew
> Seattle, WA
>
>

16 Nov 2007 - 10:01am
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Nov 16, 2007, at 9:34 AM, Jeff White wrote:

> So, when the personas are not built on objective research, they are
> not correct and thus not helpful.

When personas are not built on objective research, they are built on
pre-existing knowledge and guesswork. They may or may not be correct.
They may or may not be helpful.

The problem is that you don't know. By having the research, you have
supporting evidence behind the concepts in the personas.

Personally, I believe when personas are not built on objective
research, they aren't personas -- they are something else. However, I
got flack for this idea when I posted it here:

http://tinyurl.com/yuzaak

> Seems like common sense that designers wouldn't need a persona of
> themselves if they are building for, well, themselves.

Common sense is the least common of the senses, when it comes to design.

Jared

Jared M. Spool
User Interface Engineering
510 Turnpike St., Suite 102, North Andover, MA 01845
e: jspool at uie.com p: +1 978 327 5561
http://uie.com Blog: http://uie.com/brainsparks

16 Nov 2007 - 10:46am
Todd Warfel
2003

Couldn't agree more with this. Which is exactly why we do data-driven
personas.

Data Driven Design Research Personas

On Nov 16, 2007, at 10:01 AM, Jared M. Spool wrote:

> (Personally, I believe when personas are not built on objective
> research, they aren't personas -- they are something else. However, I
> got flack for this idea when I posted it here: http://tinyurl.com/
> yuzaak )

Cheers!

Todd Zaki Warfel
President, Design Researcher
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.

16 Nov 2007 - 11:00am
Todd Warfel
2003

Oops, the URL didn't translate. Try that again http://www.slideshare.net/toddwarfel/data-driven-design-research-personas

On Nov 16, 2007, at 10:46 AM, Todd Zaki Warfel wrote:

> Couldn't agree more with this. Which is exactly why we do data-driven
> personas.
>
> Data Driven Design Research Personas
>
> On Nov 16, 2007, at 10:01 AM, Jared M. Spool wrote:
>
>> (Personally, I believe when personas are not built on objective
>> research, they aren't personas -- they are something else. However, I
>> got flack for this idea when I posted it here: http://tinyurl.com/
>> yuzaak )
>
>
> Cheers!
>
> Todd Zaki Warfel
> President, Design Researcher
> 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.
>
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

Cheers!

Todd Zaki Warfel
President, Design Researcher
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.

16 Nov 2007 - 11:03am
Jared M. Spool
2003

In every description I've ever read of creating personas (yours,
Cooper's, Pruitt & Adlin's, Gomoll & Story's, and Mulder's are the
first to come to mind), they all go into great depth about the data
collection and synthesis methods. I've never seen a persona creation
description that just said, "It's ok to just write up what you think
your users are like based on your experience and gut feel." (Andrea
Wiggins' latest Boxes and Arrows article comes close, but claims to be data backed under the guise that analytics are useful data points.)

http://tinyurl.com/33hrta

So, I don't know why, all of a sudden, there's this pushback to call
non-data-driven user descriptions personas. They feel like something
else entirely to me.

Jared

On Nov 16, 2007, at 10:46 AM, Todd Zaki Warfel wrote:

> Couldn't agree more with this. Which is exactly why we do data-
> driven personas.
>
> Data Driven Design Research Personas
>
> On Nov 16, 2007, at 10:01 AM, Jared M. Spool wrote:
>
>> (Personally, I believe when personas are not built on objective
>> research, they aren't personas -- they are something else. However, I
>> got flack for this idea when I posted it here: http://tinyurl.com/
>> yuzaak )
>
>
> Cheers!
>
> Todd Zaki Warfel
> President, Design Researcher
> 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.
>
>
>

16 Nov 2007 - 11:19am
White, Jeff
2007

Jared - I only quickly scanned the article and comments, but it didn't
seem like the pushback was aimed at your statement that non-data
driven personas either 1)just suck and shouldn't be used or 2)are
something else entirely.

It seemed the pushback was targeted to the name you gave the sucky
personas, which I can see. But again, I just scanned the article.
To me, it's common sense (did I just say that?) that if a persona
isn't data driven, it's not a persona. Frankly I don't really care
what it *is* called, because I think it's most likely bad practice and
shouldn't be given a name in the first place.

It disturbs me that some in our profession think a persona can be
non-data driven. It's bad for our profession if we have people out
there calling their guesswork personas. As you say, personas have been
well defined by many in our field for a long time. Heck, just the
general concepts that 1) user research is important, and 2) that it
should be based on well conducted, objective, non-biased techniques
and data is the core concept of UCD and should be common knowledge to
any UCD practitioner, IMO!!!!!!! I think I'm rambling but hopefully my
point is coming across.

Why is this happening and what can we do to fight it?

Jeff

On Nov 16, 2007 11:03 AM, Jared M. Spool <jspool at uie.com> wrote:
>
> In every description I've ever read of creating personas (yours, Cooper's,
> Pruitt & Adlin's, Gomoll & Story's, and Mulder's are the first to come to
> mind), they all go into great depth about the data collection and synthesis
> methods. I've never seen a persona creation description that just said,
> "It's ok to just write up what you think your users are like based on your
> experience and gut feel." (Andrea Wiggins' latest Boxes and Arrows article
> [http://tinyurl.com/33hrta] comes close, but claims to be data backed under
> the guise that analytics are useful data points.)
>
> So, I don't know why, all of a sudden, there's this pushback to call
> non-data-driven user descriptions personas. They feel like something else
> entirely to me.
>
> Jared
>
> On Nov 16, 2007, at 10:46 AM, Todd Zaki Warfel wrote:
>
>
> Couldn't agree more with this. Which is exactly why we do data-driven
> personas.
>
> Data Driven Design Research Personas
>
>
> On Nov 16, 2007, at 10:01 AM, Jared M. Spool wrote:
> (Personally, I believe when personas are not built on objective
> research, they aren't personas -- they are something else. However, I
> got flack for this idea when I posted it here: http://tinyurl.com/
> yuzaak )
>
>
>
> Cheers!
>
> Todd Zaki Warfel
> President, Design Researcher
> 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.
>
>
>
>

16 Nov 2007 - 11:31am
Todd Warfel
2003

On Nov 16, 2007, at 11:19 AM, Jeff White wrote:

> It disturbs me that some in our profession think a persona can be
> non-data driven. It's bad for our profession if we have people out
> there calling their guesswork personas. As you say, personas have been
> well defined by many in our field for a long time. Heck, just the
> general concepts that 1) user research is important, and 2) that it
> should be based on well conducted, objective, non-biased techniques
> and data is the core concept of UCD and should be common knowledge
> to any UCD practitioner[...]
>
> Why is this happening and what can we do to fight it?

Education.

This disturbs me as well. This past year I taught a full day workshop
on crafting data-driven design research personas—this is my fourth
time teaching such a workshop/class. Just like every other time I've
taught it, I began by asking, by a show of hands, how many people have
actually been involved in persona creation—little more than half. When
asked how they learned the methods they used to create personas, I get
the same responses:

1. "I read About Face."
2. "I looked at other sample personas."
3. "I worked with someone who had done them before."
4. "I read the Persona Lifecycle book." (this one was new)

First of all, About Face, while I love the book, doesn't actually
describe in great detail how to create personas. It talks about them,
but doesn't describe the craft particularly well. The fact is that
there are very few detailed resources available for how-tos on
constructing personas that are data-driven (the only true persona as
far as I'm concerned). The most thorough book might be the Persona
Lifecycle, but I don't find it particularly useful for a number of
reasons I've already stated in the past.

Looking at other examples of personas—frankly, I find that a bit
scary. I don't know of too many good persona examples out there. Even
Forrester, who has a scoring system for personas, which while not as
comprehensive as what I expect, does provide a pretty good measure for
personas, sampled close to two dozen firms for persona work this past
year and only 2 came out with passing grades—2 out of 23-25. What does
that say about the quality of persona work coming out of our field
today?

So, how do we fight it? Education. Those of us who can, also need to
teach.

Cheers!

Todd Zaki Warfel
President, Design Researcher
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.

16 Nov 2007 - 12:12pm
bminihan
2007

I assume I'm going to get flak for this, but here goes...

>From my own perspective, here are my thoughts on why personas aren't more
abundant, why they aren't done well, and how they can be done more often:
1: If someone can invent a 25th hour in the day, folks may use that time to
embed proper personas into their work
2: Perhaps it's different in companies that are fully staffed for UCD work,
but I've seen about a dozen companies who barely have the time for an actual
*design* phase before development, much less anything that doesn't directly
impact the outcome of the project (yes, the perception is that "if it's not
wrapped up and presented to the user at the end, it's non-value-add"...I
don't make the rules, I just follow them).
3: As a guerrilla UCD practitioner (no, I don't have a human factors
degree), I use the term "personas" only in a very loose sense, to capture
the known quantifiable statistics about my audience, and finish them out
with my own experience. I wouldn't pretend my personas are valuable beyond
the direct work that I do, and would never submit them for UCD peer review.
I do about seven different jobs, so as expected, Personas get about 1/7th of
my time (at best).
4: Instead of "fighting bad persona work", I would suggest proving to
people (by unambiguous example) how personas yield a better product. My
greatest challenge as UCD director (yes, those who can't do, direct) at my
last company was not in educating people. After the 3rd year most folks
understood most of the methods. The challenge was proving that it improved
the outcome. We eventually built several solid case studies that garnered
us respect in the IT project community. Adding extra time to a 2 month
project for diligent research into personas is invaluable, but a tough sell.

5: The fact in some groups is that the impact of unusable systems (for lack
of personas, for instance) is not borne by the people who built it. They
have typically moved on long before users have begun feeling the effect.
Therefore, personas (and general UCD) must be sold to the business
customers, and not the tech leads in charge of implementation. This one
applied to my last enterprise IT group, so it may not apply to design
firms...

Bryan
http://www.bryanminihan.com

16 Nov 2007 - 12:22pm
Todd Warfel
2003

On Nov 16, 2007, at 12:12 PM, Bryan Minihan wrote:

> 4: Instead of "fighting bad persona work", I would suggest proving
> to people (by unambiguous example) how personas yield a better
> product. My greatest challenge as UCD director (yes, those who
> can't do, direct) at my last company was not in educating people.
> After the 3rd year most folks understood most of the methods. The
> challenge was proving that it improved the outcome.

I think we need to do both, as I see these going hand-in-hand. Part of
education, in my personal view, is providing the methods to do it and
methods to sell it.

Cheers!

Todd Zaki Warfel
President, Design Researcher
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.

16 Nov 2007 - 3:46pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Nov 16, 2007, at 9:22 AM, Todd Zaki Warfel wrote:

> On Nov 16, 2007, at 12:12 PM, Bryan Minihan wrote:
>
>> 4: Instead of "fighting bad persona work", I would suggest proving
>> to people (by unambiguous example) how personas yield a better
>> product. My greatest challenge as UCD director (yes, those who
>> can't do, direct) at my last company was not in educating people.
>> After the 3rd year most folks understood most of the methods. The
>> challenge was proving that it improved the outcome.
>
> I think we need to do both, as I see these going hand-in-hand. Part of
> education, in my personal view, is providing the methods to do it and
> methods to sell it.

Anyone want to post an example of a "properly" done persona. I think
if you did, it would make the problem easier to resolve.

From my personal experience, I have yet to see a persona written up
to the level of detail for the data gathered and researched as
compared to past examples from designers like Henry Dreyfuss with his
Joe and Josephine archetypes. Most "personas" I've seen written up
look more like overview studies for imaginary characters in a Sunday
Night Movie than useful data and analysis for designers building
products. That's certainly part of the problem, so maybe one of you
can post a PDF of a "proper" persona somewhere so we can discuss it
at a more concrete level.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

16 Nov 2007 - 4:41pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Nov 16, 2007, at 3:46 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

> Anyone want to post an example of a "properly" done persona. I think
> if you did, it would make the problem easier to resolve.

As I wrote here: http://tinyurl.com/2675lg

The quality of a persona shows in how it manifests itself in the way
it influences the design team to make smart decisions.

You can't look at the deliverables and say, "That one's good, but
that one's bad," anymore than you look at a designer and tell, just
by looks, if he has talent or not.

The only way to see a well-crafted persona would be to have the
creators walk through their process with you. That's probably why,
when you look at the final deliverable, you can't tell the thinking
and research that went into it.

Jared

Jared M. Spool
User Interface Engineering
510 Turnpike St., Suite 102, North Andover, MA 01845
e: jspool at uie.com p: +1 978 327 5561
http://uie.com Blog: http://uie.com/brainsparks

16 Nov 2007 - 4:51pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Nov 16, 2007, at 1:41 PM, Jared M. Spool wrote:

> You can't look at the deliverables and say, "That one's good, but
> that one's bad," anymore than you look at a designer and tell, just
> by looks, if he has talent or not.
>
> The only way to see a well-crafted persona would be to have the
> creators walk through their process with you. That's probably why,
> when you look at the final deliverable, you can't tell the thinking
> and research that went into it.

If that's the stance people who push for personas as a useful part of
the design process, then personas will continue simply fail. Design
and research deliverables have to stand on their own, without some
person explaining to you want went into it, or how it should be used
to help someone do their work. Until more folks find a way to make
deliverables that stand alone, then things like personas won't be
very useful.

If you look at the Joe and Joesphine examples from Dreyfuss's
Designing for People (Chapter 2, pg 26-43), you'll see just exactly
how a research deliverable can stand alone on at least the data it
provides. Sure, the person compiling and writing up that document
provides an immense amount of value *on top* of the deliverable, but
the deliverable also can sand alone as a extremely valuable tool to
the designer.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

16 Nov 2007 - 5:13pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Nov 16, 2007, at 4:51 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

> On Nov 16, 2007, at 1:41 PM, Jared M. Spool wrote:
>
>> You can't look at the deliverables and say, "That one's good, but
>> that one's bad," anymore than you look at a designer and tell, just
>> by looks, if he has talent or not.
>>
>> The only way to see a well-crafted persona would be to have the
>> creators walk through their process with you. That's probably why,
>> when you look at the final deliverable, you can't tell the thinking
>> and research that went into it.
>
> If that's the stance people who push for personas as a useful part of
> the design process, then personas will continue simply fail. Design
> and research deliverables have to stand on their own, without some
> person explaining to you want went into it, or how it should be used
> to help someone do their work. Until more folks find a way to make
> deliverables that stand alone, then things like personas won't be
> very useful.

Aw, come on, Andrei. That's just crap (with all due respect).

First, personas *are* already successful. Many teams are using them
and getting great value out of them. They are not in general use, but
they are being applied in many applications and seeing much success,
by many different metrics.

Second, design deliverables are written for a specific audience: the
design team. It's never expected that they have value to others
outside the team. A wireframe created for a specific team is often
meaningless to those outside. Same with specifications and often even
prototypes. Much happens *between the lines* in conversations and
shared experiences.

To say that we have to make our within-team deliverables "stand
alone" without the context of the design project is just silly.

There are some excellent writeups of the persona process and it's
potential deliverables. I'm a big fan of both Steve Mulder's The User
is Always Right and Pruitt & Adlin's The Persona Lifecycle. Both do a
quality job of showing the process and the deliverables, in my opinion.

Cooper's Kim Goodwin has presented a quality workshop on the subject,
as have Kate Gomoll and Ellen Story. There's no lack of good examples
floating around out there -- you're just not trying hard to look at
them.

One could just as easily argue that Dreyfuss's 17-page example is
excessive. If he can't do it in 2 pages, then no one will ever pay
attention to him. But, they don't, because that's just crap too.

Third, in our research, the failed attempts at using personas
(projects where the persona process never finishes or doesn't have an
impact on the final design), doesn't come because people don't see
the value. On the contrary, they saw tremendous value from the get-go.

Instead the primary causes of failure is (a) a lack of robustness in
the underlying research and analysis or (b) a poorly-executed
integration with the existing development process. In either of these
cases, the persona write-up factored very little. In fact, none of
the failed projects we uncovered were caused because the deliverable
poorly designed or failed to "stand on its own."

So, before you start proclaiming what will or won't factor in the
adoption of personas, I suggest you do a little homework on how teams
actually use these techniques.

16 Nov 2007 - 5:32pm
White, Jeff
2007

"Second, design deliverables are written for a specific audience: the
design team. It's never expected that they have value to others
outside the team."

I may be misreading your definition of design team, but I have to make
a point here. Personas (good ones based on primary research) *can* and
should be directed at others outside the design team, and they can be
really useful. My past experience with personas is that I was the
researcher and designer. There are inherent problems with that, but
that was the situation.

The process of building the personas rendered them useless to us (3
designers). We knew them by heart and never had to refer back to them.
Now that said, we lived and breathed in research for about 6 months.
We were also establishing UCD into the culture of that company. This
is where the personas really became effective.

Marketing and other execs were very impressed by the personas. We hung
personas for 3 different audience targets outside of our cubes in a
highly trafficked area. I can't count the number of times someone
walked by, saw them and asked us what they were about. That's a
perfect segue into an evangelistic conversation about UCD. "What is
this? How did you make them? How will you use them?....really? We
should do that on this other project..."

It contributed to a ripple effect across the company, and now UCD is
established as standard practice.

That's just my experience - personas have been more valuable in
selling the value of UCD than they were as an artifact for use by the
design and/or engineering teams.

Anyone else have this experience?

Jeff

On Nov 16, 2007 5:13 PM, Jared M. Spool <jspool at uie.com> wrote:
>
> On Nov 16, 2007, at 4:51 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:
>
> > On Nov 16, 2007, at 1:41 PM, Jared M. Spool wrote:
> >
> >> You can't look at the deliverables and say, "That one's good, but
> >> that one's bad," anymore than you look at a designer and tell, just
> >> by looks, if he has talent or not.
> >>
> >> The only way to see a well-crafted persona would be to have the
> >> creators walk through their process with you. That's probably why,
> >> when you look at the final deliverable, you can't tell the thinking
> >> and research that went into it.
> >
> > If that's the stance people who push for personas as a useful part of
> > the design process, then personas will continue simply fail. Design
> > and research deliverables have to stand on their own, without some
> > person explaining to you want went into it, or how it should be used
> > to help someone do their work. Until more folks find a way to make
> > deliverables that stand alone, then things like personas won't be
> > very useful.
>
> Aw, come on, Andrei. That's just crap (with all due respect).
>
> First, personas *are* already successful. Many teams are using them
> and getting great value out of them. They are not in general use, but
> they are being applied in many applications and seeing much success,
> by many different metrics.
>
> Second, design deliverables are written for a specific audience: the
> design team. It's never expected that they have value to others
> outside the team. A wireframe created for a specific team is often
> meaningless to those outside. Same with specifications and often even
> prototypes. Much happens *between the lines* in conversations and
> shared experiences.
>
> To say that we have to make our within-team deliverables "stand
> alone" without the context of the design project is just silly.
>
> There are some excellent writeups of the persona process and it's
> potential deliverables. I'm a big fan of both Steve Mulder's The User
> is Always Right and Pruitt & Adlin's The Persona Lifecycle. Both do a
> quality job of showing the process and the deliverables, in my opinion.
>
> Cooper's Kim Goodwin has presented a quality workshop on the subject,
> as have Kate Gomoll and Ellen Story. There's no lack of good examples
> floating around out there -- you're just not trying hard to look at
> them.
>
> One could just as easily argue that Dreyfuss's 17-page example is
> excessive. If he can't do it in 2 pages, then no one will ever pay
> attention to him. But, they don't, because that's just crap too.
>
> Third, in our research, the failed attempts at using personas
> (projects where the persona process never finishes or doesn't have an
> impact on the final design), doesn't come because people don't see
> the value. On the contrary, they saw tremendous value from the get-go.
>
> Instead the primary causes of failure is (a) a lack of robustness in
> the underlying research and analysis or (b) a poorly-executed
> integration with the existing development process. In either of these
> cases, the persona write-up factored very little. In fact, none of
> the failed projects we uncovered were caused because the deliverable
> poorly designed or failed to "stand on its own."
>
> So, before you start proclaiming what will or won't factor in the
> adoption of personas, I suggest you do a little homework on how teams
> actually use these techniques.
>
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
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>

16 Nov 2007 - 5:47pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Nov 16, 2007, at 2:13 PM, Jared M. Spool wrote:

> First, personas *are* already successful. Many teams are using them
> and getting great value out of them. They are not in general use,
> but they are being applied in many applications and seeing much
> success, by many different metrics.

Many teams versus a well established, industry standard practice are
different things in my opinion. I think there's a quite a large chasm
between the two right now when there probably shouldn't be.

> Second, design deliverables are written for a specific audience:
> the design team. It's never expected that they have value to others
> outside the team. A wireframe created for a specific team is often
> meaningless to those outside. Same with specifications and often
> even prototypes. Much happens *between the lines* in conversations
> and shared experiences.

I'm saying *as a designer* I find most persona deliverables (and even
processes) that I have experience with to be little or no value, to
the degree they often seem like a waste of time and resources. Having
said that, I *have* seen them done in a way I think is fairly useful,
and I can also say the times I have seen them in this way have almost
always been in ID/hardware projects, not software projects.

> Cooper's Kim Goodwin has presented a quality workshop on the
> subject, as have Kate Gomoll and Ellen Story. There's no lack of
> good examples floating around out there -- you're just not trying
> hard to look at them.

I'd rather you post the ones for this discussion so there's a
baseline to discuss. I've seen plenty of examples from a variety of
the people you have listed, ad I have issues with some of them as
they currently stand. But rather than discuss that in a vaccuum, I
suggested it might be a good idea to post an example to make the
conversation more concrete so that we don't venture off into the
territory you are now taking us. So, I'll ask again, can someone post
some good examples for the sake of consistent discussion?

> One could just as easily argue that Dreyfuss's 17-page example is
> excessive. If he can't do it in 2 pages, then no one will ever pay
> attention to him. But, they don't, because that's just crap too.

It's not a 17 page example. It's 17 pages in a book describing the
process of understanding your customer, chock full of very detailed
diagrams and drawings of real data that can be used by the designer
to make concrete design decisions as supplemental to the other
aspects of the people themselves, like the environemnts they live in.
Often these documents are a single page or poster printout.

> Instead the primary causes of failure is (a) a lack of robustness
> in the underlying research and analysis or (b) a poorly-executed
> integration with the existing development process. In either of
> these cases, the persona write-up factored very little. In fact,
> none of the failed projects we uncovered were caused because the
> deliverable poorly designed or failed to "stand on its own."

Sounds reasonable. My experience tends to tell me the kind of
research done on this sort of activity is fairly well tied to how the
persona deliverable is structured. In other words, people do the
research to fill out a template.

> So, before you start proclaiming what will or won't factor in the
> adoption of personas, I suggest you do a little homework on how
> teams actually use these techniques.

I have. In case you have forgotten, I have worked on some of the
highest profile software products in the software industry. I've seen
many poorly written and poorly designed persona deliverables and
processes that provide very little utility to designers. I'm speaking
from my personal experience, and in case I wasn't being clear enough,
I'm all for a persona process that works. I have yet to experience
that myself, but I'm not the enemy here. I'm just a messenger from
what I've seen. I'm all for you showing me the light, however.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

16 Nov 2007 - 6:04pm
Becubed
2004

> Anyone want to post an example of a "properly" done persona. I think
> if you did, it would make the problem easier to resolve.

http://tinyurl.com/2nu3tr

[Thinking of today's other thread about TinyURL... The above link brings you
to an entry on my blog titled "Download an example persona used in the
design of a web application." Either that, or a porn site... Kidding,
kidding! It's the blog!]

The process of creating personas had a real impact on this project, which I
summarize in the blog entry. Note I said the "process" and not the
"persona." The design team participated fully in the research and analysis
behind this project's personas, and as a result had largely internalized the
findings by the time we were done. I propose that, for designers, the
experience of creating personas is more valuable than the personas
themselves. In the end, personas serve mostly as reminders of what we've
learned.

It's worth noting that the personas on this project turned out to be
valuable for more than just design. They acted as (1) a communications tool
for sharing what we'd learned with the broader team, and subsequently as (2)
a reference point for rethinking product strategy. That's because our
research uncovered some real surprises, communicated by the personas.

In the end, personas are just a report format. Or if you hate reports (and
who doesn't?), think of them as a communications channel.

I cringe when people talk about needing personas. No you don't! You need the
particular *insights* communicated by personas, insights about goals,
behaviors, and context. If you don't need those insights (perhaps because
you're the customer and can design for yourself), then forget personas.

For this project, we needed those insights. And the *process of creating
personas* did the trick nicely.

--
Robert Barlow-Busch
www.chopsticker.com

16 Nov 2007 - 6:13pm
David Walker
2007

Great thread.
I read "About Face" and then I attended a short course at CooperU this summer. I learned how to do personas correctly. It was revealing for me and I recommend CooperU to any and all that are serious about ui/ux.
Immediately after my glorious summer I went to work, under contract, for a major software company based in the Pacific Northwest. Here, in the winter of my discontent, I am told, "We don't do personas".
Digging further, it seems that personas have been corrupted from having too much distance between the creation of the personas (years ago) and the use of the personas. This allows old end-user interview data to be replaced by subjective stakeholder opinon and invalidates the whole process. For each separate product, a fresh set of personas need to be prepared. THIS is where the rubber actually meets the road. Do the user research. It is the tough part. It seems unproductive, but mistakes will be made otherwise. Critical, fundamental mistakes will be made.
The toughest part is to take your own self out of the design process. Well, it is the hard part for me. Personas facilitate this greatly. But I can only lean on a persona to the extent that I trust it. If the persona was created in the nineties when Windows95 was the OS, what use is that? Personas are the only way to move forward confidently with interaction design. They require a lot of work and there is also a degree of skill that is required in compiling and correlating interview data to derive the personas. But this is theessential work of interaction design. Everything else is just the fun stuff.
Dave
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Bryan Minihan [mailto:bjminihan at nc.rr.com]
>Sent: Friday, November 16, 2007 12:12 PM
>To: ''Todd Zaki Warfel'', ''Jeff White''
>Cc: ''ixd-discussion''
>Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Examples where personas are *not* useful
>
>I assume I'm going to get flak for this, but here goes...
>
>>From my own perspective, here are my thoughts on why personas aren't more
>abundant, why they aren't done well, and how they can be done more often:
>1: If someone can invent a 25th hour in the day, folks may use that time to
>embed proper personas into their work
>2: Perhaps it's different in companies that are fully staffed for UCD work,
>but I've seen about a dozen companies who barely have the time for an actual
>*design* phase before development, much less anything that doesn't directly
>impact the outcome of the project (yes, the perception is that "if it's not
>wrapped up and presented to the user at the end, it's non-value-add"...I
>don't make the rules, I just follow them).
>3: As a guerrilla UCD practitioner (no, I don't have a human factors
>degree), I use the term "personas" only in a very loose sense, to capture
>the known quantifiable statistics about my audience, and finish them out
>with my own experience. I wouldn't pretend my personas are valuable beyond
>the direct work that I do, and would never submit them for UCD peer review.
>I do about seven different jobs, so as expected, Personas get about 1/7th of
>my time (at best).
>4: Instead of "fighting bad persona work", I would suggest proving to
>people (by unambiguous example) how personas yield a better product. My
>greatest challenge as UCD director (yes, those who can't do, direct) at my
>last company was not in educating people. After the 3rd year most folks
>understood most of the methods. The challenge was proving that it improved
>the outcome. We eventually built several solid case studies that garnered
>us respect in the IT project community. Adding extra time to a 2 month
>project for diligent research into personas is invaluable, but a tough sell.
>
>5: The fact in some groups is that the impact of unusable systems (for lack
>of personas, for instance) is not borne by the people who built it. They
>have typically moved on long before users have begun feeling the effect.
>Therefore, personas (and general UCD) must be sold to the business
>customers, and not the tech leads in charge of implementation. This one
>applied to my last enterprise IT group, so it may not apply to design
>firms...
>
>Bryan
>http://www.bryanminihan.com
>
>-----Original Message-----
>From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
>[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Todd
>Zaki Warfel
>Sent: Friday, November 16, 2007 11:32 AM
>To: Jeff White
>Cc: ixd-discussion
>Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Examples where personas are *not* useful
>
>
>On Nov 16, 2007, at 11:19 AM, Jeff White wrote:
>
>> It disturbs me that some in our profession think a persona can be
>> non-data driven. It's bad for our profession if we have people out
>> there calling their guesswork personas. As you say, personas have been
>> well defined by many in our field for a long time. Heck, just the
>> general concepts that 1) user research is important, and 2) that it
>> should be based on well conducted, objective, non-biased techniques
>> and data is the core concept of UCD and should be common knowledge
>> to any UCD practitioner[...]
>>
>> Why is this happening and what can we do to fight it?
>
>Education.
>
>This disturbs me as well. This past year I taught a full day workshop
>on crafting data-driven design research personas-this is my fourth
>time teaching such a workshop/class. Just like every other time I've
>taught it, I began by asking, by a show of hands, how many people have
>actually been involved in persona creation-little more than half. When
>asked how they learned the methods they used to create personas, I get
>the same responses:
>
>1. "I read About Face."
>2. "I looked at other sample personas."
>3. "I worked with someone who had done them before."
>4. "I read the Persona Lifecycle book." (this one was new)
>
>First of all, About Face, while I love the book, doesn't actually
>describe in great detail how to create personas. It talks about them,
>but doesn't describe the craft particularly well. The fact is that
>there are very few detailed resources available for how-tos on
>constructing personas that are data-driven (the only true persona as
>far as I'm concerned). The most thorough book might be the Persona
>Lifecycle, but I don't find it particularly useful for a number of
>reasons I've already stated in the past.
>
>Looking at other examples of personas-frankly, I find that a bit
>scary. I don't know of too many good persona examples out there. Even
>Forrester, who has a scoring system for personas, which while not as
>comprehensive as what I expect, does provide a pretty good measure for
>personas, sampled close to two dozen firms for persona work this past
>year and only 2 came out with passing grades-2 out of 23-25. What does
>that say about the quality of persona work coming out of our field
>today?
>
>So, how do we fight it? Education. Those of us who can, also need to
>teach.
>
>
>Cheers!
>
>Todd Zaki Warfel
>President, Design Researcher
>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.
>
>
>
>________________________________________________________________
>*Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
>February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
>Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
>________________________________________________________________
>Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
>Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
>List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
>List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>
>________________________________________________________________
>*Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
>February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
>Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
>________________________________________________________________
>Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
>Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
>List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
>List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

16 Nov 2007 - 7:00pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Nov 16, 2007, at 3:04 PM, Robert Barlow-Busch wrote:

> http://tinyurl.com/2nu3tr

> In the end, personas are just a report format. Or if you hate
> reports (and
> who doesn't?), think of them as a communications channel.

I think you might find a lot of designers hate reports. At least the
ones I've worked with and hired have, and I myself have them as well
when they are formated in a way that makes hard to read. The biggest
problem with reports is that valuable information is buried in dense
amounts of text. Your posted example shows this problem, as have many
of the personas I've seen in the past as well.

Having said that, I know one of the best tools for designers to have
that communicates valuable research are posters. Dealing with the
information design as a poster exercise is useful in many ways, but
the most useful thing about posters is that they can be printed in
large formats and put in places where everyone can see them, discuss
them and be remind of details without having to trudge through one's
hard drive or multiple pages in a PDF to find or remind oneself of
useful information.

> I cringe when people talk about needing personas. No you don't! You
> need the
> particular *insights* communicated by personas, insights about goals,
> behaviors, and context. If you don't need those insights (perhaps
> because
> you're the customer and can design for yourself), then forget
> personas.

Interesting point. I agree. I would suggest the insights as presented
in the current format

Think of it also as a Tufte problem... People develop business
presentations based on decks and PowerPoint. The nature of the tool
and they way it is delivered is ruining business thinking by making
everyone think about the nature of business as a bulleted deck
format. That's Tufte's main complaint about PowerPoint, it's making
people fill out a template and not forcing them to understand not
only the data, research and strategy, but also how to best
communicate that data, research and strategy. And I agree with him
fully on it.

I would suggest to those that make persona deliverables that the
format, the template and the deliverable is a core reason why
personas are having trouble being adopted properly at more places.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

16 Nov 2007 - 8:12pm
SemanticWill
2007

Amen. "do the user research" - it's work but it makes all the
difference. Companies unwilling to do proper user research, or want to
use marketing research to create fake personas, or just sit around
making stuff up dont care about the UX. They dont want to hear from
their customers. They deserve to fail and we should let them. I feel
so strongly about the importance of designing based on real users in
context that I wish it was in a code of conduct.

will evans
user experience architect
wkevans4 at gmail.com
617.281.1281

On Nov 16, 2007, at 6:13 PM, davewalker at interfacevisuals.com wrote:

> Great thread.
> I read "About Face" and then I attended a short course at CooperU
> this summer. I learned how to do personas correctly. It was
> revealing for me and I recommend CooperU to any and all that are
> serious about ui/ux.
> Immediately after my glorious summer I went to work, under contract,
> for a major software company based in the Pacific Northwest. Here,
> in the winter of my discontent, I am told, "We don't do personas".
> Digging further, it seems that personas have been corrupted from
> having too much distance between the creation of the personas (years
> ago) and the use of the personas. This allows old end-user interview
> data to be replaced by subjective stakeholder opinon and invalidates
> the whole process. For each separate product, a fresh set of
> personas need to be prepared. THIS is where the rubber actually
> meets the road. Do the user research. It is the tough part. It seems
> unproductive, but mistakes will be made otherwise. Critical,
> fundamental mistakes will be made.
> The toughest part is to take your own self out of the design
> process. Well, it is the hard part for me. Personas facilitate this
> greatly. But I can only lean on a persona to the extent that I trust
> it. If the persona was created in the nineties when Windows95 was
> the OS, what use is that? Personas are the only way to move forward
> confidently with interaction design. They require a lot of work and
> there is also a degree of skill that is required in compiling and
> correlating interview data to derive the personas. But this is
> theessential work of interaction design. Everything else is just the
> fun stuff.
> Dave
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Bryan Minihan [mailto:bjminihan at nc.rr.com]
>> Sent: Friday, November 16, 2007 12:12 PM
>> To: ''Todd Zaki Warfel'', ''Jeff White''
>> Cc: ''ixd-discussion''
>> Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Examples where personas are *not* useful
>>
>> I assume I'm going to get flak for this, but here goes...
>>
>>> From my own perspective, here are my thoughts on why personas
>>> aren't more
>> abundant, why they aren't done well, and how they can be done more
>> often:
>> 1: If someone can invent a 25th hour in the day, folks may use that
>> time to
>> embed proper personas into their work
>> 2: Perhaps it's different in companies that are fully staffed for
>> UCD work,
>> but I've seen about a dozen companies who barely have the time for
>> an actual
>> *design* phase before development, much less anything that doesn't
>> directly
>> impact the outcome of the project (yes, the perception is that "if
>> it's not
>> wrapped up and presented to the user at the end, it's non-value-
>> add"...I
>> don't make the rules, I just follow them).
>> 3: As a guerrilla UCD practitioner (no, I don't have a human factors
>> degree), I use the term "personas" only in a very loose sense, to
>> capture
>> the known quantifiable statistics about my audience, and finish
>> them out
>> with my own experience. I wouldn't pretend my personas are valuable
>> beyond
>> the direct work that I do, and would never submit them for UCD peer
>> review.
>> I do about seven different jobs, so as expected, Personas get about
>> 1/7th of
>> my time (at best).
>> 4: Instead of "fighting bad persona work", I would suggest proving to
>> people (by unambiguous example) how personas yield a better
>> product. My
>> greatest challenge as UCD director (yes, those who can't do,
>> direct) at my
>> last company was not in educating people. After the 3rd year most
>> folks
>> understood most of the methods. The challenge was proving that it
>> improved
>> the outcome. We eventually built several solid case studies that
>> garnered
>> us respect in the IT project community. Adding extra time to a 2
>> month
>> project for diligent research into personas is invaluable, but a
>> tough sell.
>>
>> 5: The fact in some groups is that the impact of unusable systems
>> (for lack
>> of personas, for instance) is not borne by the people who built it.
>> They
>> have typically moved on long before users have begun feeling the
>> effect.
>> Therefore, personas (and general UCD) must be sold to the business
>> customers, and not the tech leads in charge of implementation. This
>> one
>> applied to my last enterprise IT group, so it may not apply to design
>> firms...
>>
>> Bryan
>> http://www.bryanminihan.com
>>
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
>> [mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf
>> Of Todd
>> Zaki Warfel
>> Sent: Friday, November 16, 2007 11:32 AM
>> To: Jeff White
>> Cc: ixd-discussion
>> Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Examples where personas are *not* useful
>>
>>
>> On Nov 16, 2007, at 11:19 AM, Jeff White wrote:
>>
>>> It disturbs me that some in our profession think a persona can be
>>> non-data driven. It's bad for our profession if we have people out
>>> there calling their guesswork personas. As you say, personas have
>>> been
>>> well defined by many in our field for a long time. Heck, just the
>>> general concepts that 1) user research is important, and 2) that it
>>> should be based on well conducted, objective, non-biased techniques
>>> and data is the core concept of UCD and should be common knowledge
>>> to any UCD practitioner[...]
>>>
>>> Why is this happening and what can we do to fight it?
>>
>> Education.
>>
>> This disturbs me as well. This past year I taught a full day workshop
>> on crafting data-driven design research personas-this is my fourth
>> time teaching such a workshop/class. Just like every other time I've
>> taught it, I began by asking, by a show of hands, how many people
>> have
>> actually been involved in persona creation-little more than half.
>> When
>> asked how they learned the methods they used to create personas, I
>> get
>> the same responses:
>>
>> 1. "I read About Face."
>> 2. "I looked at other sample personas."
>> 3. "I worked with someone who had done them before."
>> 4. "I read the Persona Lifecycle book." (this one was new)
>>
>> First of all, About Face, while I love the book, doesn't actually
>> describe in great detail how to create personas. It talks about them,
>> but doesn't describe the craft particularly well. The fact is that
>> there are very few detailed resources available for how-tos on
>> constructing personas that are data-driven (the only true persona as
>> far as I'm concerned). The most thorough book might be the Persona
>> Lifecycle, but I don't find it particularly useful for a number of
>> reasons I've already stated in the past.
>>
>> Looking at other examples of personas-frankly, I find that a bit
>> scary. I don't know of too many good persona examples out there. Even
>> Forrester, who has a scoring system for personas, which while not as
>> comprehensive as what I expect, does provide a pretty good measure
>> for
>> personas, sampled close to two dozen firms for persona work this past
>> year and only 2 came out with passing grades-2 out of 23-25. What
>> does
>> that say about the quality of persona work coming out of our field
>> today?
>>
>> So, how do we fight it? Education. Those of us who can, also need to
>> teach.
>>
>>
>> Cheers!
>>
>> Todd Zaki Warfel
>> President, Design Researcher
>> 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.
>>
>>
>>
>> ________________________________________________________________
>> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
>> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
>> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>>
>> ________________________________________________________________
>> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
>> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
>> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
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>>
>> ________________________________________________________________
>> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
>> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
>> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>>
>> ________________________________________________________________
>> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
>> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
>> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
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>>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
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16 Nov 2007 - 8:46pm
Becubed
2004

> I would suggest to those that make persona deliverables that the
> format, the template and the deliverable is a core reason why
> personas are having trouble being adopted properly at more places.

I think Andrei's entirely correct with this suggestion. The format of
personas is so... well, it's just so CUTE. Not surprisingly, a lot of people
can't get past this fact.

"Oh, wook at the wittle customers. Dey're so cuuuuute! Who's dat big boy?
Who's dat big girl? Ah, wook at the pictures. Oh! Dey even have *names*!"

This throws up barriers to adoption. Which is unfortunate, because much of
the power of personas comes from our ability to process character and
narrative; we're hard-wired to respond to that stuff. Scenarios address half
the equation by introducing narrative, but they're more easily accepted in a
business context because they aren't cute.

--
Robert Barlow-Busch
http://www.chopsticker.com

17 Nov 2007 - 5:40am
Jeff Patton
2007

I'm late in the discussion, so I may have missed relevant comments before -
but this one caught my eye:

Jared wrote:
> In every description I've ever read of creating personas (yours,
> Cooper's, Pruitt & Adlin's, Gomoll & Story's, and Mulder's are the
> first to come to mind), they all go into great depth about the data
> collection and synthesis methods. I've never seen a persona creation
> description that just said, "It's ok to just write up what you think
> your users are like based on your experience and gut feel." (Andrea
> Wiggins' latest Boxes and Arrows article [http://tinyurl.com/33hrta]
> comes close, but claims to be data backed under the guise that
> analytics are useful data points.)

What about Norman's article: http://www.jnd.org/dn.mss/personas_empath.html
where he writes:
"As a consultant to companies, I often find myself having to make my points
quickly -- quite often in only a few hours. This short duration makes it
impossible to have any serious attempt to gather data or use real
observations. Instead, I have found that people can often mine their own
extensive experiences to create effective Personas that bring home design
points strongly and effectively."

I mostly work with folks that have little or no design practice at all. For
me, in that context, best practice starts with assembling piles of
assumptions about their users. I find that people who build software in a
specific area aren't completely in the dark about who their users are. It's
hard to call their information complete assumption since it's based on lots
of experience - some of it very specific. Given a pile of assumptive-facts
I can walk them through assembling a persona - which immediately gives those
facts some life.

For some reason I find people who actually do know something about their
users still self-substitute and this sort of assumption based persona helps
stop that - or at least makes it more clear when they are.

>From here we can move on by asking the questions: "how good are these
assumptions?" "How risky is it to make critical design decisions based on
them?" and "what research do we need to do to replace the most risky
assumptions with real facts and observations?"

Before building assumption-based personas, it's harder for me to make the
case for research. Having participants see the process of building a
persona seems to demystify it - and make the whole idea of doing a few
interviews and a bit of observation more palatable. If often hear "You know
it wouldn't be too hard to line up a couple customer visits..." from people
who were resistant a few minutes ago. They can now see themselves where and
how the information they get will be used.

> So, I don't know why, all of a sudden, there's this pushback to call
> non-data-driven user descriptions personas. They feel like something
> else entirely to me.

I've been using Pruitt & Adlin's term "assumption-based personas." I've
used Cooper's "persona hypothesis" and "provisional persona" terms as well.
On looking back to the Norman post, "ad hoc persona" doesn't sound so bad.
It feels like building a persona based on assumption - or second-hand
suspect fact - is an important first step to understanding what sorts of
facts you need and demonstrating how important getting them are. I worry
that being too stringent about having good data stops people from practicing
the technique at all.

Finally, I find that even a crappy pile of assumptions we all agree to use
as a common design target is better than no design target - or the disparate
assumptions a group of designers and developers carry around in their head
and don't have any easy way to share.

If non-data-driven user descriptions aren't persons - if they're something
else entirely - what are they? What feels like a legitimate term? NDDUDs?
It's not that they're non-data driven - just suspect data driven. SDDUDs?
I'm not sure that they're something else "entirely."

Thanks for causing me to think.

-Jeff
--------------------------------------------
Jeff Patton
mobile: +1 (801) 910-7908
skype: jeff_patton
www.agileproductdesign.com
Agile usability discussion group:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/agile-usability/

"There is nothing that saps one's confidence as the knowing how to do a
thing."
--Mark Twain

> -----Original Message-----
> From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com [mailto:discuss-
> bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Jared M. Spool
> Sent: Friday, November 16, 2007 4:04 PM
> To: Todd Zaki Warfel
> Cc: Jeff White; ixd-discussion
> Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Examples where personas are *not* useful
>
> In every description I've ever read of creating personas (yours,
> Cooper's, Pruitt & Adlin's, Gomoll & Story's, and Mulder's are the
> first to come to mind), they all go into great depth about the data
> collection and synthesis methods. I've never seen a persona creation
> description that just said, "It's ok to just write up what you think
> your users are like based on your experience and gut feel." (Andrea
> Wiggins' latest Boxes and Arrows article [http://tinyurl.com/33hrta]
> comes close, but claims to be data backed under the guise that
> analytics are useful data points.)
>
> So, I don't know why, all of a sudden, there's this pushback to call
> non-data-driven user descriptions personas. They feel like something
> else entirely to me.
>
> Jared
>
> On Nov 16, 2007, at 10:46 AM, Todd Zaki Warfel wrote:
>
> > Couldn't agree more with this. Which is exactly why we do data-
> > driven personas.
> >
> > Data Driven Design Research Personas
> >
> > On Nov 16, 2007, at 10:01 AM, Jared M. Spool wrote:
> >
> >> (Personally, I believe when personas are not built on objective
> >> research, they aren't personas -- they are something else. However, I
> >> got flack for this idea when I posted it here: http://tinyurl.com/
> >> yuzaak )
> >
> >
> > Cheers!
> >
> > Todd Zaki Warfel
> > President, Design Researcher
> > 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.
> >
> >
> >
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

17 Nov 2007 - 9:51am
Mark Schraad
2006

Great thread. This is one of many that could/ought to be edited and
archived.

I would offer a couple of things that I found useful to increase the
effectiveness of personas (that relate to this thread).

Let the research and persona building process be open. In fact if the
entire design team is not directly involved in the process they
should be aware of the process. The ability to draw on the research,
when needed, is helpful.

Make the deliverable visual. Sure, paragraphs are great, but bullet
points work like mini headlines - especially if these are posted. We
have even included (for consumer purchase models) totems of belongings.

Use qualitative research to determine by product attribute
preferences. Then bring in quantitative research to determine which
personas will likely constitute the larger groups. Lastly - use
demographics only to describe the person - not to create them.

These are driven by theory and confirmed only by loose, post launch,
evaluations of effectiveness. I wish I had some hard core metrics...
but I do not.

Mark

On Nov 16, 2007, at 8:12 PM, William Evans wrote:

> Amen. "do the user research" - it's work but it makes all the
> difference. Companies unwilling to do proper user research, or want to
> use marketing research to create fake personas, or just sit around
> making stuff up dont care about the UX. They dont want to hear from
> their customers. They deserve to fail and we should let them. I feel
> so strongly about the importance of designing based on real users in
> context that I wish it was in a code of conduct.
>
> will evans
> user experience architect
> wkevans4 at gmail.com
> 617.281.1281
>
>
> On Nov 16, 2007, at 6:13 PM, davewalker at interfacevisuals.com wrote:
>
>> Great thread.
>> I read "About Face" and then I attended a short course at CooperU
>> this summer. I learned how to do personas correctly. It was
>> revealing for me and I recommend CooperU to any and all that are
>> serious about ui/ux.
>> Immediately after my glorious summer I went to work, under contract,
>> for a major software company based in the Pacific Northwest. Here,
>> in the winter of my discontent, I am told, "We don't do personas".
>> Digging further, it seems that personas have been corrupted from
>> having too much distance between the creation of the personas (years
>> ago) and the use of the personas. This allows old end-user interview
>> data to be replaced by subjective stakeholder opinon and invalidates
>> the whole process. For each separate product, a fresh set of
>> personas need to be prepared. THIS is where the rubber actually
>> meets the road. Do the user research. It is the tough part. It seems
>> unproductive, but mistakes will be made otherwise. Critical,
>> fundamental mistakes will be made.
>> The toughest part is to take your own self out of the design
>> process. Well, it is the hard part for me. Personas facilitate this
>> greatly. But I can only lean on a persona to the extent that I trust
>> it. If the persona was created in the nineties when Windows95 was
>> the OS, what use is that? Personas are the only way to move forward
>> confidently with interaction design. They require a lot of work and
>> there is also a degree of skill that is required in compiling and
>> correlating interview data to derive the personas. But this is
>> theessential work of interaction design. Everything else is just the
>> fun stuff.
>> Dave
>>> -----Original Message-----
>>> From: Bryan Minihan [mailto:bjminihan at nc.rr.com]
>>> Sent: Friday, November 16, 2007 12:12 PM
>>> To: ''Todd Zaki Warfel'', ''Jeff White''
>>> Cc: ''ixd-discussion''
>>> Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Examples where personas are *not* useful
>>>
>>> I assume I'm going to get flak for this, but here goes...
>>>
>>>> From my own perspective, here are my thoughts on why personas
>>>> aren't more
>>> abundant, why they aren't done well, and how they can be done more
>>> often:
>>> 1: If someone can invent a 25th hour in the day, folks may use that
>>> time to
>>> embed proper personas into their work
>>> 2: Perhaps it's different in companies that are fully staffed for
>>> UCD work,
>>> but I've seen about a dozen companies who barely have the time for
>>> an actual
>>> *design* phase before development, much less anything that doesn't
>>> directly
>>> impact the outcome of the project (yes, the perception is that "if
>>> it's not
>>> wrapped up and presented to the user at the end, it's non-value-
>>> add"...I
>>> don't make the rules, I just follow them).
>>> 3: As a guerrilla UCD practitioner (no, I don't have a human factors
>>> degree), I use the term "personas" only in a very loose sense, to
>>> capture
>>> the known quantifiable statistics about my audience, and finish
>>> them out
>>> with my own experience. I wouldn't pretend my personas are valuable
>>> beyond
>>> the direct work that I do, and would never submit them for UCD peer
>>> review.
>>> I do about seven different jobs, so as expected, Personas get about
>>> 1/7th of
>>> my time (at best).
>>> 4: Instead of "fighting bad persona work", I would suggest
>>> proving to
>>> people (by unambiguous example) how personas yield a better
>>> product. My
>>> greatest challenge as UCD director (yes, those who can't do,
>>> direct) at my
>>> last company was not in educating people. After the 3rd year most
>>> folks
>>> understood most of the methods. The challenge was proving that it
>>> improved
>>> the outcome. We eventually built several solid case studies that
>>> garnered
>>> us respect in the IT project community. Adding extra time to a 2
>>> month
>>> project for diligent research into personas is invaluable, but a
>>> tough sell.
>>>
>>> 5: The fact in some groups is that the impact of unusable systems
>>> (for lack
>>> of personas, for instance) is not borne by the people who built it.
>>> They
>>> have typically moved on long before users have begun feeling the
>>> effect.
>>> Therefore, personas (and general UCD) must be sold to the business
>>> customers, and not the tech leads in charge of implementation. This
>>> one
>>> applied to my last enterprise IT group, so it may not apply to
>>> design
>>> firms...
>>>
>>> Bryan
>>> http://www.bryanminihan.com
>>>
>>> -----Original Message-----
>>> From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
>>> [mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf
>>> Of Todd
>>> Zaki Warfel
>>> Sent: Friday, November 16, 2007 11:32 AM
>>> To: Jeff White
>>> Cc: ixd-discussion
>>> Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Examples where personas are *not* useful
>>>
>>>
>>> On Nov 16, 2007, at 11:19 AM, Jeff White wrote:
>>>
>>>> It disturbs me that some in our profession think a persona can be
>>>> non-data driven. It's bad for our profession if we have people out
>>>> there calling their guesswork personas. As you say, personas have
>>>> been
>>>> well defined by many in our field for a long time. Heck, just the
>>>> general concepts that 1) user research is important, and 2) that it
>>>> should be based on well conducted, objective, non-biased techniques
>>>> and data is the core concept of UCD and should be common knowledge
>>>> to any UCD practitioner[...]
>>>>
>>>> Why is this happening and what can we do to fight it?
>>>
>>> Education.
>>>
>>> This disturbs me as well. This past year I taught a full day
>>> workshop
>>> on crafting data-driven design research personas-this is my fourth
>>> time teaching such a workshop/class. Just like every other time I've
>>> taught it, I began by asking, by a show of hands, how many people
>>> have
>>> actually been involved in persona creation-little more than half.
>>> When
>>> asked how they learned the methods they used to create personas, I
>>> get
>>> the same responses:
>>>
>>> 1. "I read About Face."
>>> 2. "I looked at other sample personas."
>>> 3. "I worked with someone who had done them before."
>>> 4. "I read the Persona Lifecycle book." (this one was new)
>>>
>>> First of all, About Face, while I love the book, doesn't actually
>>> describe in great detail how to create personas. It talks about
>>> them,
>>> but doesn't describe the craft particularly well. The fact is that
>>> there are very few detailed resources available for how-tos on
>>> constructing personas that are data-driven (the only true persona as
>>> far as I'm concerned). The most thorough book might be the Persona
>>> Lifecycle, but I don't find it particularly useful for a number of
>>> reasons I've already stated in the past.
>>>
>>> Looking at other examples of personas-frankly, I find that a bit
>>> scary. I don't know of too many good persona examples out there.
>>> Even
>>> Forrester, who has a scoring system for personas, which while not as
>>> comprehensive as what I expect, does provide a pretty good measure
>>> for
>>> personas, sampled close to two dozen firms for persona work this
>>> past
>>> year and only 2 came out with passing grades-2 out of 23-25. What
>>> does
>>> that say about the quality of persona work coming out of our field
>>> today?
>>>
>>> So, how do we fight it? Education. Those of us who can, also need to
>>> teach.
>>>

17 Nov 2007 - 10:04am
Todd Warfel
2003

On Nov 16, 2007, at 5:13 PM, Jared M. Spool wrote:

> One could just as easily argue that Dreyfuss's 17-page example is
> excessive. If he can't do it in 2 pages, then no one will ever pay
> attention to him. But, they don't, because that's just crap too.

No kidding. 17 pages is excessive. Talk about something that a client
would never actually use. If we can't do it on 1-2 pages, then in most
cases it's an artifact that's not going to work.

Cheers!

Todd Zaki Warfel
President, Design Researcher
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.

17 Nov 2007 - 10:10am
Todd Warfel
2003

On Nov 16, 2007, at 5:47 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

> I'm all for a persona process that works. I have yet to experience
> that myself, but I'm not the enemy here. I'm just a messenger from
> what I've seen. I'm all for you showing me the light, however.

So, why haven't you fixed it? Why don't you start by explaining, in
short form, why they fail, in your experience. Then use that to create
a persona model that does work—that's the process I've used to
continually refine our processes and artifacts, and speaking from
experience, it works.

The persona model we're using today at Messagefirst isn't the same as
what we started with years ago. It's evolved and it's become much more
effective.

Cheers!

Todd Zaki Warfel
President, Design Researcher
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.

17 Nov 2007 - 10:13am
Todd Warfel
2003

Then change it.

On Nov 16, 2007, at 8:46 PM, Robert Barlow-Busch wrote:

> I think Andrei's entirely correct with this suggestion. The format of
> personas is so... well, it's just so CUTE. Not surprisingly, a lot
> of people
> can't get past this fact.

Cheers!

Todd Zaki Warfel
President, Design Researcher
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.

17 Nov 2007 - 11:01am
Jared M. Spool
2003

[Note, I've combined comments from Andrei, Robert, and Jeff into one
message so I don't fill up everyone's mailbox.]

On Nov 16, 2007, at 5:47 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:
> On Nov 16, 2007, at 2:13 PM, Jared M. Spool wrote:
>
>> First, personas *are* already successful. Many teams are using them
>> and getting great value out of them. They are not in general use,
>> but they are being applied in many applications and seeing much
>> success, by many different metrics.
>
> Many teams versus a well established, industry standard practice are
> different things in my opinion. I think there's a quite a large chasm
> between the two right now when there probably shouldn't be.

With that criteria, why are you picking on personas? Practically
every modern design technique falls into this distinction, including
user-centered design and agile methods. There are no 'industry-
standard practices', short of build-it-and-ship-it.

In our research, we look at organizations who are trying to produce
great user experiences. We rate the projects on a scale representing
who is doing better at this goal than others. Then we look to the
techniques and practices they employ.

What we've found is, while 'personas' are used throughout the entire
spectrum, what we call 'robust personas' are typical in projects on
the higher end of our success scale. These teams are using these
techniques to inform their design process and producing great designs
as a result.

On Nov 16, 2007, at 6:04 PM, Robert Barlow-Busch wrote:
> In the end, personas are just a report format. Or if you hate
> reports (and
> who doesn't?), think of them as a communications channel.
>
> I cringe when people talk about needing personas. No you don't! You
> need the
> particular *insights* communicated by personas, insights about goals,
> behaviors, and context. If you don't need those insights (perhaps
> because
> you're the customer and can design for yourself), then forget
> personas.

Robert is correct in that it's mostly about insights. But the
insights aren't delivered by the persona description document. The
insights come from the process in its entirety. (As an aside, in our
work, we think personas are more than for insights, because the team
may need them just to confirm hunches and beliefs they already have.
If the team designs a quality experience without gaining new insights
from the persona creation process, we still consider it successful.)

I disagree with Robert's assertion that personas are "just a report
format." Robust personas are a technique for getting the team on the
same page about who their designing for and the goals, behaviors, and
contexts they need to consider to create a successful experience.
Like any design research technique, it's inevitably about informing
the design process.

Yet, we've found many teams, like Robert, believe personas *are* just
a report format. Teams that believe this, in our research, rarely
succeed at designing great experiences for their users. (Similarly,
they often believe requirements documents, market statements, and
other written deliverables are just report formats too and fail to
get the potential value from those deliverables too.)

This is why I think looking at the final persona description document
doesn't tell the entire story. It's a design souvenir that
represents, in the mind of the team, the journey they've been on. You
can't judge the magnificence of the Eiffel Tower from a postcard.

On Nov 17, 2007, at 5:40 AM, Jeff Patton wrote:
> Jared wrote:
>> In every description I've ever read of creating personas (yours,
>> Cooper's, Pruitt & Adlin's, Gomoll & Story's, and Mulder's are the
>> first to come to mind), they all go into great depth about the data
>> collection and synthesis methods. I've never seen a persona creation
>> description that just said, "It's ok to just write up what you think
>> your users are like based on your experience and gut feel." (Andrea
>> Wiggins' latest Boxes and Arrows article [http://tinyurl.com/33hrta]
>> comes close, but claims to be data backed under the guise that
>> analytics are useful data points.)
>
> What about Norman's article: http://www.jnd.org/dn.mss/
> personas_empath.html
> where he writes:
> "As a consultant to companies, I often find myself having to make
> my points
> quickly -- quite often in only a few hours. This short duration
> makes it
> impossible to have any serious attempt to gather data or use real
> observations. Instead, I have found that people can often mine
> their own
> extensive experiences to create effective Personas that bring home
> design
> points strongly and effectively."

Don's not really describing the process of creating anything, short
of a set of notes from interviewing the team.

You can put Cool Whip and Hershey's Chocolate Syrup between three
slices of Wonder Bread and call it a 'cake', but that doesn't make it
a cake. And to people who take pride in baking cakes, insisting that
any combination of sugar and wheat is some sort of cake marginalizes
the efforts they make. People say, "I've had cakes and, frankly, I'm
not impressed with the results," when they really haven't experienced
a quality cake -- they've just eaten a pile of crap ingredients that
weren't even baked.

If Don wants to interview the team, discover what they believe about
their users, write them up, and call them "a persona" to make the
client think they are getting something special, I'm all for it. They
are his clients and he can have any relationship he wants with them.

However, I suggest, amongst ourselves, we refer to these things by
their proper names. Once again, I'm not saying that Don's process is
without value or merit. I'm just saying it's not a 'persona' as I've
come to use the term to describe a specific process.

Instead of giving them their own name (like 'user descriptions' or
something equivalent), some are suggesting adding a modifier to
qualify the quality of the persona ('assumption-based personas'). To
me, that's like calling the concoction I described above a '3-Layer
Whip Cream Bread Cake'. I've come to think of persona creation as a
process involving primary research, not the propagation of uninformed
assumptions and marketing propaganda.

I don't see how, as a field, we benefit by diluting the term by
making it inclusive of all these variations.

On Nov 16, 2007, at 5:47 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

> I've seen
> many poorly written and poorly designed persona deliverables and
> processes that provide very little utility to designers. I'm speaking
> from my personal experience, and in case I wasn't being clear enough,
> I'm all for a persona process that works. I have yet to experience
> that myself, but I'm not the enemy here.

Ok. That's fine.

We can be in agreement here: poorly-done personas don't add much to
the process and eat up a lot of otherwise useful resources.

We recommend to our clients avoid investing in poorly-done personas.
If they can make the investment (and it's not a huge one), we
recommend a robust persona creation technique. If they can't afford
that investment, we recommend other techniques.

Someday, I hope you have the opportunity to work on a project that
employs robust personas. I'm betting you'll see their utility at that
point. If I'm wrong, then I look forward to learning from your story
of your experiences.

Jared

Jared M. Spool
User Interface Engineering
510 Turnpike St., Suite 102, North Andover, MA 01845
e: jspool at uie.com p: +1 978 327 5561
http://uie.com Blog: http://uie.com/brainsparks

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