Personas and Behavioural Axes Analysis
john at caret.cam.ac.uk
Sun Nov 2 15:52:55 UTC 2008
Those who have spoken with me about personas in user centred design
will know that I have been a bit of a sceptic. Nevertheless, we are
about to start paying a commercial company to help us with UCD! They
are called Flow Interactive (www.flowinteractive.com).
The reason for this post is that in the kick off meeting, they shared
something that was far more persuasive than anything I have read on
the Fluid wiki to date so I wanted to share this insight as I
So here is the big idea: Design personas are different to marketing
personas. A design persona is not a description of a person, it is the
result of analysis of *goals* and *behaviours* of users in a
particular context. The analysis seems to involve identifying which
goals and behaviours have high discriminating power in terms of design
tradeoffs, describing them in terms of behavioural axes and plotting
real user behaviours on those axes. Clusters of user plots one one
axis become a single characteristic of a potential persona. Profiles
of plots on different axes become design personas. They *express the
user research* in terms of different behavioural profiles *that are
relevant to design choices*.
So for most of you this probably still sounds like gobbledegook and
you are unimpressed that I have now joined the ranks of the speakers
of UCD. But Flow gave me an example that really helped me understand
They had a client who wanted some work done on a hotel booking site.
The client told them the users of the site had 5 personas - the
business traveller, the short-break weekender, the family with small
children, the single holidaymaker, and - well lets just say the
romantic short stay customer. These personas are valid marketing
personas, with different communication channels, different price
sensitivity and so on. Flow's user research phase discovered that from
a site design perspective there were only 2 design personas - those
who knew where they wanted to stay and those who didn't. That is, the
marketing personas did not exhibit behavioural differences when it
came to the factors that impact on the site design and the user
behavioural differences that did impact on site design revealed a
different clustering of users into 2 design personas - destination
known and destination unknown.
Now, this makes sense to me. The next test is to see if it works as
well for some projected theoretical future (Academic Social
Networking) as it does for some real-world goal seeking behaviours.
Note that the slideshow linked at the bottom of the main Fluid
personas page (http://www.slideshare.net/toddwarfel/data-driven-design-research-personas
) includes a couple of pages (27/28) that appear to illustrate this
concept, but the slides are not very explanatory.
I hope this helps someone else find their way into this UCD stuff.
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