What Alan Cooper has to say about personas...
daphne at media.berkeley.edu
Thu Apr 19 19:28:26 UTC 2007
Alan Cooper wrote "The Inmates are running the Asylum" and "About
Face 2.0". He introduced the idea of personas and scenarios in the
former book. Here's a blurb from "About Face 2.0"...
"The value of personas...
* as a product definition tool. Personas help us determine what
to include in the product, and what to leave out.
* as a design tool. By creating realistic scenarios starring
the personas, they help the design team determine how the tool should
look and behave.
* as a measurement tool. Personas can help quality assurance
testers write realstic test scripts and prioritize bug fixes.
* as a communication tool. Personas help articulate a focus for
the design to which others in your organization can respond.
What are personas?
To develop and test the best design ideas, we first create concise
set of user personas. Each persona is an archetype representing the
needs, behaviors, and goals of a particular group of users.
Throughout design and development, the personas consistently embody
key user motives and actions that inform product creation.
Personas give designers and developers a clear design target.
Ambiguous user definitions lead to confusion and misunderstanding
because everyone has a different idea about who the user actually is
and what this person might need or want. Personas with definite
backgrounds, names, and personalities keep everyone focused on the
significant characteristicsof a known user.
Well-defined personas help us pose questions such as "Will Spencer
ever do this?" or "Why would Debbie want that feature?" Emperical
answers stop repeated speculation about what users want or need and
curb the proliferation unnecessary and undesited features. At the
same time, a proper set of personas will remain complex enough to
exhibit a wide variety of human behaviors and concerns.
Personas are not elastic
Why does each persona have a name, a face, and a little bit of social
biography? These details make it easy to imagine a definite person.
Statementst like "A Debbie ina different city might use the system
this way" are invalid because there is only one specific persona for
Debbie. Targeting appropriate personas ensures that the most likely
users have suitably powerful and pleasing experiences.
Goals vs Tasks
Our design is Goal-Directed, not task-directed. Different users
represented by a single persona might have different tasks. As long
as the goals of these users are the same, though, one persona can
accurately represent them. Our design doesn't ignore tasks--it lets
goals prioritize them.
For example, a salesman starts his day by checking his office voice
mail, his email, and his cell phone voice mail. Improving the method
he uses to perform these tasks might help him somewhat, but his goal
is not to check messages. His goal is to repond to clients and close
deals. If design help him do this, it might be able to eliminate
some or all of the tasks.
Edge cases, or events that happen rearely for a small number of
users, must be accounted for in teh final implementation, but the
tasks necessary for handling them should be available only through
commensurate effort. This keeps them out of the way for other users.
Categories of personas
Separating personas into primary and secondary categories allows us
to focus our design on the people whose needs matter most. As we
design for a primary persona we check the design against secondary
personas to make sure that they are not neglected.
Primary Personas are critical archetypal users. Their goals must be
satisfied, or they and others will be frustrated. Each primary
persona requires a unique interface in order to meet his or her goals.
Secondary personas are people who influence the design of the
interface, but are not a focus of the design. Secondary personas
include beginner-level users, infrequent users, and experts. An
interface that satisfies only the needs of secondary personas will
frustrate and confuse primary personas. The unique needs of the
secondary persona, however, must be met in order to make viable
products for a large number of users in the real world."
University of California, Berkeley
Educational Technologies Services
daphne at media.berkeley.edu
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