Robert Barlow-Busch’s thoughts about user experience and product design, all rolled up into one reasonably tidy and occasionally tasty blog.

Category: Personas

A 10-step summary of how to create personas

A few days ago, I hosted a web seminar about personas for the folks at Thomson Scientific. Interest has grown there after a successful introduction to personas, which I’m told were a useful resource during their redesign of the ISI Web of Knowledge. This got me thinking: I’ve already posted some information about personas here and intend to write more in the future. So to provide an anchor for these thoughts, here is a summary of my…

10 steps to personas (in three parts)

Begin by setting your objectives and gathering data:

  1. Define the problem that you want personas to help solve. For example, “These personas will help us understand people’s behaviors around exchanging electronic documents, to help us design a website for that activity.” It may be tempting, but try to avoid general statements such as “help us understand our customers better.” What specifically do you want to learn?
  2. Identify the people you need to study in order to understand the problem you defined. Best practices in persona development require you to spend time face-to-face with current or potential customers. To plan for this, you need some model of the market to help identify the people you’ll want to recruit. Customer segmentation models from marketing can be a useful input for this step.
  3. Get into the field and meet the people you identified. Interview them, ask for demonstrations, and observe the environment in which they would use your product or service. Augment this with information from other sources such as subject matter experts, articles, blogs, and market research studies. Be sure to do some research beforehand to get a basic understanding of the domain, as you’ll learn more in the field if you’re already up to speed on some basics.

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Download an example persona used in the design of a web application

Despite a wide-ranging interest in personas (aka user profiles) by web and software designers, concrete examples of actual personas are surprisingly hard to find. So I’m happy to contribute an example here, from a chapter I wrote in the book User-Centered Design Stories. Click the thumbnails below for full-sized images, or download a printable PDF.

Persona page 1 Persona page 2

Here’s a bit of back story on our persona, Timothy Powell. Timothy is one of three personas I created to inform the design of a web application for a client called… well, the legal hurdles in identifying this particular client weren’t worth the effort, so let’s call them ClickDox. ClickDox had an idea that people would be willing to pay good money for a web application that lets them send and receive confidential documents online, as opposed to sending them by courier (too slow and expensive) or as email attachments (too insecure).

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User-Centered Design Stories

In a few days, the UPA 2007 conference will kick off in Austin, Texas. It’s here that many people will get their first glimpse of User-Centered Design Stories: Real-World UCD Case Studies, a new book by Carol Righi and Janice James. Carol and Janice have assembled an impressive collection of real-world case studies from 22 different contributors, covering topics from promoting and establishing UCD practices to the nuts and bolts of research, evaluation, and design.

User-Centered Design Stories

Each chapter in the book reads like a story, complete with characters, dialogue, and in most cases a plot, which makes for an engaging and often entertaining read. — Continue reading this post>


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