Persona Creation and Roles

2 Dec 2008 - 11:18am
5 years ago
8 replies
1027 reads
Matthew Taylor
2008

Hello again all,

Another question from the front lines reading through Steve Mulder's latest
(The User is Always Right) and some of the modemapping/mental modelling
(Mental Models - Indi Young's latest published by Rosenfeld) literature. Who
is the right person/role in the UX/UE hierarchy (or other department -
Marketing, etc...), in your opinion, to create the user Personas and/or Mode
Maps/Mental Models?

Have read a lot of conflicting opinions out there, and have my own gut
response, but what would you - or do you - do in practice?

I am in the IxD role currently and am being tasked with developing our
companies UX/UE strategy.

Cheers!

Comments

2 Dec 2008 - 2:35pm
Miles Dowsett
2008

Hi Matthew,

In my opinion the interaction designer and/or UEA would typically
model the personas and also the mental models, purely as they would
be the product of sizeable design research; conducted by the
interaction designer(s) and/or UEA

Miles

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2 Dec 2008 - 1:43pm
Jaanus Kase
2008

My practice has shown that the critical distinction in creating
personas and models is whether or not you do it based on real
contextual data. I have had great success with first going and
observing/interviewing actual users in their work context or even in
the lab, before creating anything new.

Working with real data is not always possible - initially you may
have to create some personas based on your best understanding of the
product and market. What you can do then, though, is to gather user
data, and seeing how it matches with your previous work.

I think either one is fine, but you'll notice how they both involve
real user data. I don't think it's possible to just "create" a
persona out of the blue (well, you can do it, but you may be far
off). I think of personas more of a synthesis and salient capturing
of what I've seen in the world.

And now I've got this far, I realized I was answering completely the
wrong question :-) because you were asking about the role. not just
process. I think it's an interaction designer role and rests with UX
design, but throughout the process, you can involve other people - e.g
if you involve people from Marketing when going to interview users, it
may be very eye-opening to them, they will become vested and
interested in the process and will actually use your personas, which
is the real goal of your work.

rgds,
Jaanus
jaanuskase.com

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3 Dec 2008 - 6:52am
Petteri Hiisilä
2004

Matthew Taylor kirjoitti 2.12.2008 kello 18:18:

> Who is the right person/role in the UX/UE hierarchy (or other
> department -
> Marketing, etc...), in your opinion, to create the user Personas and/
> or Mode
> Maps/Mental Models?

Hi!

Designers are the ones who should create the personas, and they should
do so after a day (week/month) of field research. A "research and
design team" often consists of an interaction designer, design
communicator and, when possible, a visual designer.

Personas can help the research and design team to remember what they
learned and use that knowledge to make better decisions. They can also
help to communicate the logic behind any controversial design
decisions to the stakeholders and developers.

But even existing personas don't replace the research phase, because a
model can only capture so much of the reality.

If you have a large team creating a suite of products that have
various target users that are already modeled into personas, it still
makes sense to send every new designer to the field to verify the
persona set, even for a day or two. They could also read any
additional marketing research, competitor data etc. that the original
team did.

A day at the context of the real users costs a little, but it
dramatically reduces the risk of misinterpreting the previous
research. It also makes the team members much better debaters, if a
stakeholder wants to decorate the main screen with an arbitrary pet
feature, or a developer wants to keep that "Are you SURE that you want
to save your work?" dialog that has been in place since 1999.

Since you're being tasked with developing your companies UX/UE
strategy, you might find these presentations/articles useful:

http://www.businesstobuttons.com/kimgoodwin.html
http://www.cooper.com/journal/2001/10/putting_people_together_to_cre.html
http://www.cooper.com/journal/2003/05/5_ways_to_get_the_most_from_in.html
http://www.cooper.com/journal/2008/10/playing_well_with_others.html

Thanks,
Petteri

--
Petteri Hiisilä
palvelumuotoilija /
Senior Interaction Designer
iXDesign / +358505050123 /
petteri.hiisila at ixdesign.fi

"In this island, everything happens for a reason."
- John Locke, LOST

3 Dec 2008 - 10:45am
Matthew Taylor
2008

Thank you all for your feedback. It appears to make sense for multiple
reasons why the ixd/design team would be tasked with this
responsibility. Onward and forward!

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3 Dec 2008 - 1:22pm
Simon Clatworthy
2006

I have had good results from creating personas in a workshop with the
whole project team (or a subset if its really huge).
It creates ownership to the personas and ensures that the user
centric focus continues in the project.

The designer facilitates by preparing the workshop and running it.

Regards

SimonC

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3 Dec 2008 - 7:45pm
Jarod Tang
2007

Sometime, thinking about the process of modeling the user, will also
help who do what.

2 cents,
Jarod

On Wed, Dec 3, 2008 at 11:45 PM, Matthew <matthew.taylor.a at gmail.com> wrote:
> Thank you all for your feedback. It appears to make sense for multiple
> reasons why the ixd/design team would be tasked with this
> responsibility. Onward and forward!
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=36106
>
>
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4 Dec 2008 - 9:08am
Benjamin Ho
2007

Matthew,

If you haven't already, I recommend you read the book - "The
Persona Lifecycle" by John Pruitt and Tamara Adlin.

The assumptions you create with your team is a starting point and
once you validate/refine it with real data, the mental models will
become more apparent. I suggest you do this with at least one other
person on your team so both of you can divulge to everyone all the
different facets of each persona.

Hope this helps.

Ben

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4 Dec 2008 - 10:44am
Walt Buchan
2008

"Who is the right person/role in the UX/UE hierarchy (or other department -
Marketing, etc...), in your opinion, to create the user Personas and/or Mode
Maps/Mental Models?"

In my experience whoever creates the personas really has to get the other
teams totally involved in the process of creation. Whereas we're generally
familiar with personas based on roles, modes and tasks, other teams, e.g.
Marketing, Commerce etc. may only be familliar with personas based on
demographics.

Different user groups have very different expectations, being presented with
task based personas can be very unsettling and can lead to some very very
tough questioning.

Hope that helps

Walt

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