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Personas

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Personas are fictitious characters that are created to represent the different user types within a targeted demographic that might use a site or product. Personas are most often used as part of a user-centered design process for designing software or online applications, in which the goals, desires, and limitations of the user are considered when designing the product. They are also considered a part of interaction design. Personas are useful in helping to guide decisions about a product, such as features, interactions, and visual design. A user persona is a representation of the goals and behavior of real user group. In most cases, personas are synthesized from data collected from interviews with users. They are captured in 1-2 page descriptions that include behavior patterns, goals, skills, attitudes, and environment, with a few fictional personal details to bring the persona to life.

 

1.
#28431

About Personas and Scenarios  (link broken)

Personas are an extremely powerful design tool, which help you to visualise an end-product that you can be confident will suit your users' needs by helping them achieve their goals, and help you test your success.

Hunt, Ben. Web Design From Scratch (2005). Design>Usability>User Centered Design>Personas

2.
#33015

Accessibility in User-Centered Design: Personas

Personas are "hypothetical archetypes" of actual users. They are not real people, but they represent real people during the design process. A persona is a fictional characterization of a user. The purpose of personas is to make the users seem more real, to help designers keep realistic ideas of users throughout the design process.

UIaccess (2007). Articles>Web Design>User Centered Design>Personas

3.
#33713

Age 50+ Persona for the STC Body of Knowledge  (link broken)

Many STC members have contributed to the Body of Knowledge and as the endeavor continues, the more important it becomes to gain many perspectives and ideas from all across the STC membership. SIGs have unique angles for their contributions. Lori Gillen, co-manager of the AccessAbility SIG, contributed this persona for use by the BOK. This persona illustrates pertinent accessibility issues that a body of knowledge for technical communicators should encompass.

Gillen, Lori. Tieline (2008). Articles>TC>Personas>Body of Knowledge

4.
#29940

Approaches to Creating Personas  (link broken)   (PDF)

You do research to better understand your users, but exactly what is it that you want to find out about them? That's the first question you need to ask, and its answer dictates which research methods you should use, since specific methods are tailored to finding specific types of information.

Mulder, Steve. InformationDesign (2007). Articles>User Centered Design>Methods>Personas

5.
#37943

Assume an Amorphous User

There are a couple of models that can guide us in dealing with negative scenarios—meaning scenarios that deviate from the happy path and result in user failure. One model, negative scenario testing, comes from quality assurance; the other, negative case analysis, from qualitative research.

Hughes, Michael A. UXmatters (2011). Articles>Usability>User Centered Design>Personas

6.
#26944

Beyond the Universal User: How to Design for the Universe of Users   (PowerPoint)

There are problems with non-user-centered/system-centered design. We must know, understand, and work with actual users so that the people who use the product can do so quickly and easily to accomplish their own tasks.

Bowie, Jennifer L. Texas Tech University (2003). Presentations>Web Design>Usability>Personas

7.
#28355

Bring Your Personas to Life!

Method acting can take your personas from the page to the stage. Think beyond traditional practice to give emotional life to your personas.

Fugaz, Zef. Boxes and Arrows (2006). Articles>Usability>Methods>Personas

8.
#21274

Bringing Your Personas to Life in Real Life

The way you communicate the personas and present your deliverables is key to ensuring consistency of vision. Without that consistency, you'll spend far too much time arguing with your colleagues about who your users are rather than how to meet their needs.

Freydenson, Elan. Boxes and Arrows (2002). Articles>Usability>Methods>Personas

9.
#33017

Bringing Your Personas to Life in Real Life

The way you communicate personas and present your deliverables is key to ensuring consistency of vision. Without that consistency, you’ll spend far too much time arguing with your colleagues about who your users are rather than how to meet their needs. Let’s start with a review of what we know about personas, and why they are useful.

Freydenson, Elan. Boxes and Arrows (2002). Articles>User Centered Design>Personas

10.
#30226

Building a Data-Backed Persona

Incorporating the voice of the user into user experience design by using personas in the design process is no longer the latest and greatest new practice. Everyone is doing it these days, and with good reason. Using personas in the design process helps focus the design team's attention and efforts on the needs and challenges of realistic users, which in turn helps the team develop a more usable finished design. While completely imaginary personas will do, it seems only logical that personas based upon real user data will do better. Web analytics can provide a helpful starting point to generate data-backed personas; this article presents an informal 5-step process for building a 'persona of the people.' In practice, outcomes indicate that designing with any persona is better than with no personas, even if the personas used are entirely fictitious. Better yet, however, are personas that are based on real user data. Reports and case studies that support this approach typically offer examples incorporating data into personas from customer service call centers, user surveys and interviews. It's nice work if you can get it, but not all design projects have all (or even any!) of these rich and varied user data sources available. However, more and more sites are now collecting web analytic data using vendor solutions or free options such as Google Analytics. Web analytics provides a rich source of user data, unique among the forms of user data that are used to evaluate websites, in that it represents the users in their native habitat of use. Despite some drawbacks to using web analytics that are inherent to the technology and data collection methods, the information it provides can be very useful for informing design.

Wiggins, Andrea. Boxes and Arrows (2007). Articles>User Centered Design>Personas>Log Analysis

11.
#29473

Caution: Stereotypes Under Construction  (link broken)

Words of warning about the creation of personas and the practice of user profiling. Even if one calls it the development of an archetype or ideal type, it is still a stereotype.

Triplett, Janea. Journal of HCI Vistas (2007). Articles>User Centered Design>Methods>Personas

12.
#34947

Caution: Stereotypes Under Construction

Now that I have your attention, I’ll tell you up front that what Janea follows is not a rant. It’s not even a statement for or against Triplett political correctness. It’s a caution–words of warning about the creation of personas and the practice of user profiling. Even if one calls it the development of an archetype or ideal type, it is still a stereotype.

Triplett, Janea. Journal of HCI Vistas (2007). Articles>User Centered Design>Methods>Personas

13.
#35572

Comic Relief

As part of a project I'm working on, we are going to develop a comic-style collection of user scenarios to help communicate best practices around a security service we are offering.

Hughes, Michael A. User Assistance (2009). Articles>User Centered Design>Technical Illustration>Personas

14.
#33658

Communicating Customer and Business Value with a Value Matrix

If you’re like me, you’ve always felt something was missing once you finished creating your personas and scenarios. They communicate the heart and goals of the user, but miss out on a lot of details. And while it’s the intent of both documents to do just that, neither personas nor scenarios succinctly communicates to your business what features a product or service should have and why it should have them.

Cecil, Richard F. UXmatters (2008). Articles>Business Communication>Assessment>Personas

15.
#30297

Crappy Personas vs. Robust Personas

If you're just going to guess on the personas, why bother? Just design for yourself, like the 37Signals team does. However, when you do the field studies, you create relationships with the people in your research. You can return to those people and ask them questions. You can learn about the things they do.

Spool, Jared M. User Interface Engineering (2007). Articles>User Centered Design>Methods>Personas

16.
#26121

Customer Storytelling at the Heart of Business Success

As most of us know by now, customer personas and scenarios are vehicles for helping an organization continuously keep their customers in their line of sight. Traditional segmentation identifies and categorizes a current or potential audience based upon common characteristics, including demographics, attitudes, behavior, transactions, frequency of interaction, spend, and more. They are discovered by “doing the math,” which may include data aggregation, cluster analysis, factor analysis, and other statistical methods applied to large sample sets. And then segments are given catchy names like Savvy Skeptics, Active Balancers, Indulgent Nutritionist, or Trade-Uppers. When done right, segments are statistically derived from the analysis and synthesis of quantitative data and are a solid foundation for customer understanding.

Boxes and Arrows (2005). Articles>User Centered Design>Methods>Personas

17.
#24102

Design-Driven Innovation   (PDF)

The object of this contribution is to investigate how the design practice could promote and guide convergence dynamics amongst a plurality of stakeholders.

Maschi, Simona. University of Alberta (2003). Design>User Centered Design>Methods>Personas

18.
#37330

Designing with Behavioral Economics

Much of economics theory is based on the premise that people are rational decision-makers. In recent years, behavioral economics—also known as behavioral finance—has emerged as a discipline, bringing together economics and psychology to understand how social, cognitive, and emotional factors influence how people make decisions, both as individuals and at the market level. Many of the findings of behavioral economics have a direct influence on how users interact with a product. In a worst‑case scenario, a product’s design may encourage user behaviors that are detrimental to users’ best interests.

Hornsby, Peter. UXmatters (2010). Articles>User Centered Design>Theory>Personas

19.
#37055

The Essence of a Successful Persona Project

Personas are a flexible and powerful tool for user researchers. They're also one of the most misunderstood. When done well, they ensure the team focuses on the needs and delights of their users. Like other effective user research techniques, personas deliver confidence and insights to the team. Personas help the team make important design decisions with a thorough understanding of who the users are, what they need, and when they need it.

Spool, Jared M. User Interface Engineering (2010). Articles>User Centered Design>Personas

20.
#28924

Review: Everything and the Kitchen Sink

I've used personas for years (though some might regard my process as a slightly heretical perversion of the method). I always think about the big picture, and I was just thinking BIG about personas at work when The Persona Lifecycle landed on my desk. Given my review of what's out there, The Persona Lifecycle is the most comprehensive book on personas I've come across. If you're so inclined, it can taking you from novice to expert. The authors, Jonathan Pruit and Tamara Adlin, take advantage of extensive teaching experience and punctuate their discussion with lots of real-world examples, case studies, anecdotes, bright ideas and handy guidelines. That being said, it's not an easy read, and it's not for everybody.

Govella, Austin. Boxes and Arrows (2007). Articles>Reviews>User Centered Design>Personas

21.
#36550

Fifteen Personas of IT Users with Disabilities

The ÆGIS project has a gift for you – 15 personas of IT users with disabilities. No more procrastination on your projects! Personas are hypothetical archetypes of actual users. Although they are imaginary, they are defined with significant rigour and precision. This level of accuracy can only be reached by founding the personas on real data obtained from field research studying real people. The aim here is to make them approachable for all members of a project-team so that developers, designers, managers and other stakeholders can develop empathy for their end-users.

Mardahl, Karen. STC AccessAbility SIG (2010). Articles>User Centered Design>Accessibility>Personas

22.
#23977

Getting from Research to Personas: Harnessing the Power of Data

The usefulness of personas in defining and designing interactive products has become more widely accepted in the last few years, but a lack of published information has, unfortunately, left room for a lot of misconceptions about how personas are created, and about what information actually comprises a persona. Although space does not permit a full treatment of persona creation in this article, I hope to highlight a few essential points.

Goodwin, Kim. Cooper Interaction Design (2002). Articles>Usability>User Centered Design>Personas

23.
#35507

Getting from Research to Personas: Harnessing the Power of Data

The usefulness of personas in defining and designing interactive products has become more widely accepted in the last few years, but a lack of published information has, unfortunately, left room for a lot of misconceptions about how personas are created, and about what information actually comprises a persona. Although space does not permit a full treatment of persona creation in this article, I hope to highlight a few essential points.

Goodwin, Kim. Cooper Journal (2002). Articles>User Centered Design>Methods>Personas

24.
#36497

How to Create Personas Your Design Team Will Believe In

Does your organisation use personas to describe users' characteristics, goals, needs and behaviours? Although they are a popular tool for communicating knowledge about users, many personas are little more than anecdote, hearsay and rumour. These kind of fake personas rapidly fall into disuse. Make sure your own personas get used by validating them against this 7-item checklist.

Travis, David. UserFocus (2009). Articles>User Centered Design>Methods>Personas

25.
#35505

How to Understand Your Users with Personas

Personas are a powerful tool for helping you to better understand the needs of your users. In this comic, drawn exclusively for Think Vitamin, you’ll learn more about Personas and how they’ll revolutionize the way you design and build web sites.

Colbow, Brad. Carsonified (2009). Articles>User Centered Design>Methods>Personas

 
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