The more data the document contains, the stronger the need for proper information design.
"UX deliverables had a rocky year so far. I feel particularly bad for the humble wireframe, which took some serious knocks over the past few months. There's also a growing skepticism about the value of Personas. The Persona thing made me particularly uneasy because I've always been a huge fan, and we still start most of our projects with a workshop to define Personas and User Journeys."
Timeline forgets the very first personas for design: Henry Dreyfuss' Joe and Josephine (1955).
"These steps (solid research, creative analysis, and compelling presentation and rollout) can bring teams back around to a tool that they badly need. Feel free to dump the shallow personas that people roll their eyes at. It's time to reengage with empathetic work by making your users real, and letting their real voices be heard."
They will always be a great starting point for the unknowns of empathy and UCD.
"There have been some who have proclaimed the impending demise of personas as a UX design approach since shortly after their introduction. While the optimal approach to creating and employing personas is still evolving—thanks to more useful data becoming available to design teams and new project-management methods—their usefulness has not yet diminished. If anything, personas have become even more useful because they put a human face on aggregated data and foster a user-centered design approach even within the context of efficiency-driven development processes."
Creating Socionas: Building creative understanding of people's experiences in the early stages of new product development
Personas going social. Next up: Mobinas.
"Creating Socionas seeks to address two questions: What do design teams need to understand about the social to develop products and services that delight users? And how can they build this understanding under the constraints of new product development practice?"
Personas as the silver bullet to guarantee empathy?
"Content strategy isn't really a discipline but a defined approach to handling an organization's content consistently across departments and channels. It can only be effective if it becomes ubiquitous to the processes and procedures that already exist within business - communications, public relations, customer service, marketing, graphic design, IT, etc. While the defined strategy may be about content, the tactics by which we achieve our content goals are really about people. Who are we publishing content for? How will they interact with the content we present? How do they define relevancy? What is meaningful and engaging to them? Borrowing a tool that user experience and interaction designers have used for years, personas are a powerful way to not only create and implement a sound content strategy, but to facilitate its adoption by everyone in the organization."
Personas are great for any UX field, content strategy included.
"The most popular content strategy tools borrow from the discipline of information architecture, but there is one invaluable tool that is imperative to the process of strategy and implementation of tactics that we can thank our user experience cousins for: personas."
"Knowing who will use your software is important to the software development process. Having the end user in mind helps you develop features that fit the user's needs. And, figuring out your end user, as Jeff Patton reveals, is indeed easy. In this column, Jeff details stereotypes to avoid, questions to ask, and how to implement this pragmatic persona in your development process." (Jeff Patton ~ StickyMinds)
"(...) although demographics and task analysis play an important part in persona creation, personas are more than just a collection of user profiles and groups. You should make them as real as you can. They should embody all the human attributes you'd expect to find in your users. For example, they could be moody, very task oriented, work in a specific type of environment, or even hate the idea of referring to documentation unless they are absolutely compelled to do so." (Niranjan Jahagirdar and Arun Joseph Martin ~ UXmatters.com)
"If we are going to begin to address these issues, we need to get at the root of the problem—our empathetic understanding of our users. Having empathy for users and understanding their needs doesn't come from reading words on a page. It doesn’t come from statistical analysis of demographics either. It comes from truly embodying and experiencing the character of a persona, so it becomes ingrained emotionally and physically in our memories. Actors understand this. From the time Stanislavski began teaching Method Acting - a process of transformation in which actors begin to take on the true nature of a character - actors have referred to this moment when they realize a character's emotional memory and have truly become the character as the moment of embodiment." (Traci Lepore ~ UXmatters)
"Persona design falls far short of its potential without scenario design and walkthroughs. Only putting the personas into action bridges the contexts of use and implementation." (Design Crux)
"This is by far the nerdiest episode we ever did, so fasten your seat belts. In his session at UXcamp, Tom said: "Personas – love 'em or hate 'em – you can't not use 'em. Either you have zombies, or you have living ones." In this recording of his session he talks about different kinds of zombies like Mirror Personas, Undead Personas, Unicorn Personas or Stupid User Personas. He gives advice on how to avoid these fellas and how to make good use of living personas during a project. As a bonus, Tom explains why 37signals doesn't need personas at all." (UX Café)
"Grasping complex information needs and uses can indeed be daunting. One powerful design tool, personas, can help make sense of these needs and provide a framework for building Intranets that will satisfy a variety of needs. Effectively developed and used, personas enable Intranet teams to hone in on user needs and build interfaces and user experiences that end-user audiences can and will use." (McQueen Consulting)
"A lot of work goes into creating personas, and I was delighted to discover this innovative way in which the team carried forward the benefits of that work into the final product, where users could benefit from it as well. The personas also provide a rich form of user experience by portraying typical practices for effectively using the portal. I recommend that other UX designers consider applying personas in this way—initially using these user research artifacts during design, then incorporating them into products as user assistance and navigation aids." (Mike Hughes ~ UXmatters)
"In this installment, we took somewhat detailed tour of personas. First, we covered how to make them—the processes and techniques involved in developing, validating, and maturing the personas themselves, which has a big benefit to the whole team involved in getting a much better understanding of whom the solution is being developed for. Then we discussed some different uses of personas, how not to use them, as well as how to—chiefly to gain empathy to inform what and how you build so that it makes sense for your target audience as well as a valuable communication tool to keep team members on the same page, speaking the same language, and collaborating in terms of people rather than in terms of technical or hierarchical terms." (Dr. Charles B. Kreitzberg and Ambrose Little)
"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." (Jared Spool)
"The use of personas as a method for communicating user requirements in collaborative design environments is well established. However, very little research has been conducted to quantify the benefits of using this technique. The aim of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of using personas." (frontend.com)
"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." (Brad Colbow - ThinkVitamin) - courtesy of jjursa
"Designers gather data to understand the personas that represent the users for whom they are designing a user interface. This is quite similar to the way actors must develop an understanding of their characters." (Traci Lepore - UXmatters)
"In a world where fortunes are sought through data-mining vast information repositories, the computer is our indispensable but far from infallible assistant. Personas demonstrates the computer's uncanny insights and its inadvertent errors, such as the mischaracterizations caused by the inability to separate data from multiple owners of the same name. It is meant for the viewer to reflect on our current and future world, where digital histories are as important if not more important than oral histories, and computational methods of condensing our digital traces are opaque and socially ignorant." (Aaron Zinman - MIT Media Lab)
"This persona format was created to organize information in the Fluid Personas. The format chosen was based on the competitive analysis of many persona examples below." (Fluid Project Wiki) - courtesy of janjursa
"The sole purpose of this exercise is to document and map the emotional states of a user so that it can guide the creation and communication of personas to stakeholders while also informing the design process itself. I'm not one for ux deliverables for their own sake, but this is one that carry's a lot of weight and also goes a ways towards 'traceability' - that is, the ability to show all the real research that went into your personas." (Will Evans) - courtesy of ppf
"The paper compares three groups; one group that is briefed with photos of personas, one which uses illustrations of the personas and the last group is briefed to with no personas, and uses aesthetic design." - (IxDA Discussion) Intensely debated topic (again).
"The use of personas as a method for communicating user requirements in collaborative design environments is well established. However, very little research has been conducted to quantify the benefits of using this technique. The aim of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of using personas. An experiment was conducted over a period of 5 weeks using students from NCAD. The results showed that, through using personas, designs with superior usability characteristics were produced. They also indicate that using personas provides a significant advantage during the research and conceptualisation stages of the design process (supporting previously unfounded claims). The study also investigated the effects of using different presentation methods to present personas and concluded that photographs worked better than illustrations, and that visual storyboards were more effective in presenting task scenarios than text only versions." - (Frank Long - frontend.com) courtesy of jjursa
"This is not going to be an article about personas or even what distinguishes a good persona from a bad one. Instead, this article is about the ingredients we can draw on when creating audience models and some alternative ways of communicating the results of an audience analysis." - (Steve Baty - UXmatters)
"(...) some users get more value from software applications than others. This is because software is written from a certain user perspective. In many cases, the problems and challenges faced in making software work can be explained by the tension created when the design of software is dominated by one perspective over another. In CRM systems, for example, the sales reps who must do the work of entering data about contacts and meetings often must be bludgeoned or bribed to do so. They get little benefit from such tracking, as opposed to the VP of sales, for whom the data is a vital way to understand what is happening." - (Dan Woods - Forbes) courtesy of cooperjournal
"Creating personas that are a reflection of real people helps us as web designers and developers to empathize with our end users and more easily consider needs, goals, and priorities that may be different than our own. These are critical skills to have since we may not be part of the target audience for the site we're developing." - (Ron Akanowicz - CivicActions) courtesy of jjursa
"In this experiment, it is especially the holistic versus the analytic thinking and grouping in themes rather than according to taxonomies that might be in play. In connection to personas descriptions the question becomes; how different are the categories we use to perceive a description?" (Lene Nielsen - Journal of HCI Vistas)
"(...) an entertaining and clearly written book that is also filled with great insight into the process, both qualitative, and quantitative, of creating user personas based on real research and how that can help interaction designers, product designers, and other user experience professionals make more usable and useful software." (Will Evans - The Designer's Review of Books)
"Intranets and portals are all—or mostly—about serving and enabling users. What information do they need and what tasks must they accomplish? How will they look for information? How does it need to be organized and presented for them to understand and use it? Do users have expertise in different subject areas or varying levels of technical vocabularies? Do they need instant information gratification or will they patiently research until they explore all possibilities? Do users know what information they are seeking or do they need to be able to browse for something that will catch their eyes and provide the 'Aha!' experiences. Grasping complex information needs and uses can indeed be daunting. One powerful design tool, personas, can help make sense of these needs and provide a framework for building Intranets that will satisfy a variety of needs. Effectively developed and used, personas enable Intranet teams to hone in on user needs and build interfaces and user experiences that end-user audiences can and will use." (Howard McQueen) - courtesy of jamesrobertson
"Personas and scenarios help designers to imagine the users and aid development of design ideas. The concept of engaging personas and narrative scenario explores personas in the light of what what it is to identify with and have empathy with a character. The concept of narrative scenarios views the narrative as aid for exploration of design ideas. Both concepts incorporate a distinction between creating, writing and reading." (Lene Nielsen PhD thesis 2004)
"(...) if personas are fictional, how do you tell when a persona is fake? This great question highlights concerns about persona quality, validity, and usefulness that our clients often raise and that many persona thought leaders have addressed." (Angela Quail - Persona Creation)
"Here's the deal... he's got a great point, and I actually kinda furiously like the article because it reflects what annoys me about persona efforts (not personas themselves)." (Tamara Adlin - Corporate Underpants) - courtesy of marrijeschaake
"These are personas that orbit a single objective and the ways in which people might accomplish that objective is defined in the personas. Writing it down now, it seems self-evident, but my personas have never been framed this way. Instead, typical personas identify user objectives and the product's requirements must support those objectives. To apply this to a specific example, take online banking. What would objectives look like if not defined by the target audience but instead by the business?" (Dan Brown - Greenonions) - courtesy of livialabate
"In User Experience Design circles, personas have become part of our established orthodoxy. And, as with anything orthodox, some people disagree on what personas are and the value they bring to design, and some reject the doctrine entirely." (Andrew Hinton - Boxes and Arrows)
"I think passion is a real issue with personas. Personas might elicit empathy with the people you design for, but they don't elicit passion. Passion comes from having a stake, having a long-term commitment. Passion is what gets you that last 10% to make something great. Designers designing for themselves are often passionate. It's hard to do as a freelancer or consultant." (Joshua Porter - Bokardo)
"(...) if you're building a site for a group of web designers, you probably don't need personas, whereas if you're building a site for a group of doctors, they could come in handy." (Andy Budd)
"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'." (Andrea Wiggins - Boxes and Arrows)
"Any project that uses personas does not necessarily need to follow all 10 steps as long as the responsible party knows the consequences of skipping a step." (Lene Nielsen - HCI Vistas)
"The primary goal of the tutorial was to show people how to work data into developing personas and how they can be used for more than just design.” (Todd Zaki Warfel)
Book review on 'The Persona Lifecycle' (Pruit and Adlin 2006) - "Pruit and Adlin use the lifecycle as a metaphor to frame the different stages personas go through, from birth to retirement. To highlight their process, a fictional case study runs throughout the book tying everything together. Because design doesn’t happen in a vacuum, the authors talk about how to ease the adoption and communication of personas at different levels of your organization. In fact, the book covers the two most important facets of personas: making them and getting them used." (Austin Govella - Boxes and Arrows)
"Personas work because they tell stories. Stories are part of every community. They communicate culture, organize and transmit information. Most importantly, they spark the imagination as you explore new ideas. They can ignite action." (Whitney Quesenbery) - courtesy of craig marion
Including related podcast - "Tune in to learn about how to proactively and effectively sell to Linux users in the mid-market space. We’ve recently completed Linux Persona market research that groups Linux users into 5 personas. Find out what each persona means and how you can use our new screening tool to profile your own customers. - (...) this tutorial will provide you with extensive interactive content that you may require as you apply the personas in the sales and marketing aspects of your business." (Microsoft) - courtesy of slashdot
"A new approach to designing interactive experiences that is more empathetic to the consumer, and helps designers work effectively and creatively with their customers and user groups." (Nathan Waterhouse)
"You've tried it all. User personas as posters, ala Alan Cooper, hanging on the office walls. User personas as cardboard cutouts, sitting at the conference table with you and your client. User personas as glossy deliverables. As paper mâché projects. As collages, comics, mood boards, Word documents, lists, charts, and just regular conversations. Through all your attempts to bring user personas into your project, one thing remains consistent: user personas are hard to get right. And even if you get them right, they’re even more difficult to integrate into your day-to-day process." (Liz Danzico - Boxes and Arrows)
"(...) although personas are essential design tools, we think some people may be losing sight of the fact that they're just tools, and tools with a specific purpose, at that. Lately, we've been seeing a lot of gold-plated hammers - unnecessarily elaborate communication about personas - and some fundamental misunderstandings about the relationships among research, personas, and scenarios." (Kim Goodwin - Cooper newsletter)
"I asked Alan Cooper (over a rather echoing connection) why he is outraged by bad software, and how he developed the concept of 'personas'. I was interested to hear the 'father of Visual Basic' say 'What I need is a computer that doesn't make me feel bad and a cellphone that doesn't make me feel stupid'." (UXpod)
"Method acting is just one technique to better enable user-centered design and is not intended to replace observational usability testing, but it can (and should) work in unison. For each observational user test, your actors will gain even more insights to the real world and can refine their method." (Zef Fugaz - Boxes and Arrows)
"Too busy to decide if you want to buy the book? Try the podcasts, which take you on a whirlwind tour of the book's content. The audio comes from a Molecular webinar I did a while back. For the industrious, you can also download the PowerPoint slides used in the webinar (warning: 23MB) for the full audio/visual experience." (Steve Mulder - Practical Personas)
Review by Ross Gagliano - "(...) for our computer professional society, one may wonder whether such a book will find its way into either a computer science or an information system curriculum. Good questions! Being contrary, maybe it should. However, my own experience suggests that it may be way too massive (722 pages) and terribly glitzy (hundreds of cartoon figures) to become a standard course text." (ACM Ubiquity)
"(...) a site devoted to the art and science of personas. It's also the companion site to the book. The goal of this site is to keep the conversation going." (Steve Mulder and Ziv Yaar)
Sample chapter from: John Pruitt and Tamara Adlin, The Persona Lifecycle: Keeping People in Mind Throughout Product Design, Morgan Kaufmann Publishers 2006 - (Book Profile)
"Business people and designers are never going to speak the same language, and that’s okay. Each needs their own language to get their work done. To make great products, we have to create new ways to understand each other and work together as we keep our collective focus on the users of our products. Personas not only help translate and keep communication channels open between designers and business people, they also help to create and maintain a focus on customers and their needs throughout the design process. The persona approach has helped a variety of companies (...) improve not just their products and services, but their bottom line as well." (Tamara Adlin and John Pruitt - AIGA Gain) - courtesy of bplusd
"Solid personas can be incredibly helpful. Several years ago, Schwab redesigned its site based on three primary personas: the learner, the active trader, and the serious investor. Apple has had some great successes designing for an aesthete persona who demands that things look clean and work smoothly." (Dan Shaffer - Adaptive Path)
"How can something that feels so right be so wrong? Personas ought to be one of the defining techniques in user-focused design. Lots of professionals create them, yet too often the personas end up being too vague to guide a product's focus. They often lack the detail to be useful in guiding low-level design trade-offs. And, as typically done, personas have been too narrowly focused. They often aren’t helpful in identifying the information a user needs or creates. Nor do they have much to say about the sensory and emotional aspects of user experience—the sorts of factors that cause consumers to lust after products like Apple's iPod." (turok - LiveJournal)
"Do you work in a medium-to-large organization whose web content you feel could be put to better use? If so, you’re my target reader." (Gerry McGovern)
"The first step in developing successful reader personas is to decide what readers you are not going to focus on. Good web management is often more about what you exclude than what you include." (Gerry McGovern)
"Personas are becoming a regular staple in many of the development teams we talk to. The method helps teams make a smooth translation between requirements and design, resulting with much cleaner designs. The benefits of preventing grounding, encouraging story telling, and enhancing role playing are rarely discussed, yet very present when you see the method in full force. It's these benefits that guide our belief that personas will be a trusted method for many years to come." (Jared Spool)
"Do Personas have to be accurate? Do they require a large body of research? No, I conclude. The Personas must indeed reflect the target group for the design team, but that is about all. A Persona allows designers to bring their own life-long experience to bear on the problem, and because each Persona is a realistic individual person, the designers can focus upon features, behaviors, and expectations appropriate for this individual, allowing the designer to screen off from consideration all those other wonderful ideas they may have." (Donald Norman) - courtesy of elearningpost
"Personas and other user-modeling techniques are often solely discussed as tools for product definition and design, but they are useful tools in other arenas, as well. Technical writers responsible for creating user documentation can benefit greatly from a well-defined persona set, too." (Steve Calde - Cooper Newsletter)
"So we decided to see if we could make group personas. At first, there was some apprehension - what if the groups are so varied as to be impossible to characterize? But as soon as we started making them, only several different kinds of personas made sense and it became a straightforward extension of Alan Cooper's original persona technique. Here's how we did it." (Mike Kuniavsky - Boxes and Arrows)
"Personas ought to be one of the defining techniques in user-focused design. Lots of professionals create them, yet too often the personas end up being too vague to guide a product’s focus. They often lack the detail to be useful in guiding low-level design trade-offs." (George Olsen - Boxes and Arrows)
"Personas is an interaction design technique with considerable potential for software product development. (...) Personas are more engaging than design based primarily on scenarios." (John Pruitt and Jonathan Grudin - Microsoft Research) - courtesy of henrik olsen
"We try to understand an audience through numbers, charts and graphs, but often times we lose sight of the people who represent these statistics. The MSN audience is comprised of a broad range of users at different stages in their life, who use MSN in their own unique way. To help better define the people behind the numbers, MSN has created personas for some key audience segments." (MSN Advertising) - courtesy of brett lider
"Before embarking on any intranet or website design project, it is important to understand the needs of your users. It is then possible to identify the features and functionality that will make the intranet or website a success, and how the design can support users with different goals and levels of skill." (Tina Calbria - Step Two Designs) - courtesy of elearningpost
"Lovely personas with a full back story are dropped in cupboard and ignored." (Ann Light - Usability News)
"The usefulness of personas in defining interactive product has become more widely accepted in the last few years (...)" (Kim Goodwin - Cooper)
"The usefulness of personas in defining and designing interactive products has become more widely accepted in the last few years, but 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." (Kim Goodwin - User Interface 7 East)
"A persona is a concrete representation of a target user of a product; an imaginary person derived from user research and described in rich detail." (Tamara Adlin et al. - CHIplace)
"A persona is a user archetype you can use to help guide decisions about product features, navigation, interactions, and even visual design." (Kim Goodwin - Cooper Interaction Design)