Persona scope

1 Jun 2009 - 11:17am
5 years ago
6 replies
482 reads
Janna Cameron
2004

Lately I've been doing some thinking about what scope would be appropriate
for personas. Does it make sense to have "general" personas for a product
line - or are personas better used as a vehicle to communicate user research
at more specific level?

For instance, would it make sense for Microsoft or Apple to have personas of
computer users in general - or just application-specific personas?

My current thoughts are that "general" personas may be useful - but perhaps
not in their traditional application to vet features, but instead to explore
new product opportunities. If this is the case, would this be effective
compared to other opportunity-seeking approaches?

Your ideas and insights would be much appreciated!

Janna

Comments

1 Jun 2009 - 11:49am
Traci Lepore
2008

It worries me a little to hear you say "general" personas I have to say. So much of the flack they get now already is around them being to general to be a useful tool. And if they are over generalized to a point of having no clear focus or goals the user is accomplishing I am not sure you would be able to easily find those new opportunities you are looking to discover. While I totally agree that using them as a tool to uncover new directions is a sometimes untapped area you might look at new ways of using them instead of changing the content.

My own personal recent thoughts around personas has been about how to make them more 3D and empathetic experiences for designers. One idea I have been toying with is working more with doing dramaturgical readings (basically like cold reading a play script) and therefore trying to embody the "character" more so as to get a more intuitive feel for their intents and goals and letting new opportunity ideas arise from that improvisation. Seeing how this can lead to natural but spontanious generation of a scene/scenario that will work for the user in ways we not have brainstormed otherwise.

Traci Lepore
Graphic Designer
traci106 at hotmail.com
617-821-2156

1 Jun 2009 - 11:52am
ELISABETH HUBERT
2007

Hi Janna,

Interesting thoughts indeed. In my work I have seen both general and
application/project-ish specific personas used. Of the two, the
application specific personas were more useful. That being said, I
was in project/delivery/tactical mode and trying to get something
through the door.

I think even when personas are used to create overarching strategies
and concepts they need to have a range in order to get to the point
of the problem or gap you are trying to solve. I think that going to
general, one can end up not thinking about alot of the gaps that may
go along with the strategy.

~ Lis
http://www.elisabethhubert.com

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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1 Jun 2009 - 9:03pm
Anonymous

>From my experience they need to be specific. Otherwise you fall into
the 'Elastic User' issue that Cooper points out in 'Inmates Are
Running The Asylum.' That is everyone 'knows' the general user,
and this general user just happens to fit into his/her own
perspective of the solution. Which leads to the team arguing for
functionality based on what they want to see. Specific personas help
clear this issue up.

Tracy - I am very intrigued by your 'dramaturgical readings'
scenario. Please do post details/results if you are able to conduct a
session like that.

Along those lines I do wonder if it would be of any value getting
actors to run through improv type scenarios based on user personas.
Just to see it performed by skilled actors with an outside
perspective. Might be cool for the project team to watch and reflect
afterwards.

In case anyone was interested, here is a nice link with a bunch of
persona related articles:
http://www.informationdesign.org/archives/cat_personas.php

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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2 Jun 2009 - 9:14am
Traci Lepore
2008

Hi,

I haven't had the chance to play with the dramaturgical
reading idea in depth yet, but will definitely post when I do. It's a
recent train of thought. Here's a link to a slideshow I uploaded that
has a little more detail about what I was thinking/getting at though
its still the high level ideas. (the "embodied" character being the
concept of doing dramaturgical reading)
http://www.slideshare.net/treygd/workplace-theatre

Your other
comment about improv is definitely a fantastic next logical thought,
but why not even the design team participate/run the exercises! Not
that actors aren't great :) But the best experience you'll get from it
is getting up on your feet and doing it yourself. I have actually done
some playing around with some improv exercises for character
development (can share more about exactly what kind if you want) and
they have proved helpful.

Traci Lepore
Graphic Designer
traci106 at hotmail.com
617-821-2156

2 Jun 2009 - 9:13am
Traci Lepore
2008

Hi,

I haven't had the chance to play with the dramaturgical reading idea in depth yet, but will definitely post when I do. It's a recent train of thought. Here's a link to a slideshow I uploaded that has a little more detail about what I was thinking/getting at though its still the high level ideas. (the "embodied" character being the concept of doing dramaturgical reading) http://www.slideshare.net/treygd/workplace-theatre

Your other comment about improv is definitely a fantastic next logical thought, but why not even the design team participate/run the exercises! Not that actors aren't great :) But the best experience you'll get from it is getting up on your feet and doing it yourself. I have actually done some playing around with some improv exercises for character development (can share more about exactly what kind if you want) and they have proved helpful.

Traci Lepore
Graphic Designer
traci106 at hotmail.com
617-821-2156

> To: discuss at ixda.org
> From: williamgaus at gmail.com
> Date: Mon, 1 Jun 2009 19:03:21 +0000
> Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Persona scope
>
> >From my experience they need to be specific. Otherwise you fall into
> the 'Elastic User' issue that Cooper points out in 'Inmates Are
> Running The Asylum.' That is everyone 'knows' the general user,
> and this general user just happens to fit into his/her own
> perspective of the solution. Which leads to the team arguing for
> functionality based on what they want to see. Specific personas help
> clear this issue up.
>
> Tracy - I am very intrigued by your 'dramaturgical readings'
> scenario. Please do post details/results if you are able to conduct a
> session like that.
>
> Along those lines I do wonder if it would be of any value getting
> actors to run through improv type scenarios based on user personas.
> Just to see it performed by skilled actors with an outside
> perspective. Might be cool for the project team to watch and reflect
> afterwards.
>
> In case anyone was interested, here is a nice link with a bunch of
> persona related articles:
> http://www.informationdesign.org/archives/cat_personas.php
>
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=42485
>
>
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2 Jun 2009 - 9:49am
Mabel Ney
2008

Job

Web Development Manager (focus on usability)
IDEXX Laboratories
Portland, ME

http://jobs.idexx.com/idexx/jobboard/JobDetails.aspx?__ID=*53C59A962E167F61

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=42485

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