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No-Bullsh*t Personas
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No-Bullsh*t Personas

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Building personas is an important part of product development. It is essential for companies to understand the types of customers that use their product, or could use their product. However, the ...

Building personas is an important part of product development. It is essential for companies to understand the types of customers that use their product, or could use their product. However, the personas we produce are often full of extraneous, irrelevant, and fake information. This presentation will help you find and eliminate the BS from your personas, and help communicate your target audience's needs in a more effective, believable way.

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  • [A “persona” of the two presenters]\n
  • \n
  • Who has used personas before?\nThey were introduced as a concept by Alan Cooper - 2004 - in his book The Inmates Are Running The Asylum.\n
  • In the olden days, developers developed tools for themselves. Even now some people (ahem) are famous for basing product decisions on how THEY would want it to work.\nBut that doesn’t work for every product. And you’re not Steve Jobs.\n
  • So enter the dawn of “Usability”\nPeople started using “my mom could use it!” as shorthand.\n
  • Then we realized “my mom” is not a very good proxy for “my actual users”\nWe realized we had to get everyone thinking about *the actual people*\nEasy if you have 5 actual users, but what if you have hundreds? thousands? millions?\n
  • Enter the persona.\n
  • The persona is meant to take research about all your actual users\nboil it down into an easy to remember format \nhelps people keep those needs in mind\n- but how do you communicate ALL that research?\n
  • Cooper’s solution - represent all the different types of people as personas\nMay have seen these before, standard format\n
  • Sometimes you get a placemat with each persona\n
  • Sometimes you get one placemat with all the personas. Seems like a perfectly reasonable tool! \nAnyone use these?\n
  • \nThe problem is, they’re mostly bullshit.\n
  • \nLet’s revisit the Alan Cooper quote.\n\n
  • \nTake an incredible amount of user research, boil it down, get a fake person.\nThe value is in all that research and you lose it by making a fake person. Then you take that fake person and make up what they would really want or do. That’s bullshit.\n\nIdentifying a bullshit persona - they’re easy to spot in the wild\nattached to walls in development spaces, they gather dust and become part of the decor\n\n
  • \nTake an incredible amount of user research, boil it down, get a fake person.\nThe value is in all that research and you lose it by making a fake person. Then you take that fake person and make up what they would really want or do. That’s bullshit.\n\nIdentifying a bullshit persona - they’re easy to spot in the wild\nattached to walls in development spaces, they gather dust and become part of the decor\n\n
  • \nTake an incredible amount of user research, boil it down, get a fake person.\nThe value is in all that research and you lose it by making a fake person. Then you take that fake person and make up what they would really want or do. That’s bullshit.\n\nIdentifying a bullshit persona - they’re easy to spot in the wild\nattached to walls in development spaces, they gather dust and become part of the decor\n\n
  • \n\nYour users are charming stock photography models.\n
  • \n\nYour users have cool first names and mysterious aliases like “The Hacker”\n
  • \nThey have clichéd catchphrases.\n
  • \nEntire segments of your user base have the exact same demographic details.\n
  • \nAnd charming little detailed stories about their personal lives.\n
  • \nThe problem is not with trying to simplify your research so it’s usable. It’s this.\n
  • Problem is, unless they were part of the research, everything anybody sees is fake. Developers are the best at smelling this. A lot of people feel stupid playing pretend.\nThe goal of the personas is to represent alllll your users as ONE PERSON. Jillien is missing a whole lot about us. She’s also - I think - a lot less interesting than Jill or Kristen. It’s hard to feel like you can relate to her.\nMaking stuff up - the fake persona - makes it easier for people to add in other “little” details, usually ones that support the feature THEY want.\n
  • Problem is, unless they were part of the research, everything anybody sees is fake. Developers are the best at smelling this. A lot of people feel stupid playing pretend.\nThe goal of the personas is to represent alllll your users as ONE PERSON. Jillien is missing a whole lot about us. She’s also - I think - a lot less interesting than Jill or Kristen. It’s hard to feel like you can relate to her.\nMaking stuff up - the fake persona - makes it easier for people to add in other “little” details, usually ones that support the feature THEY want.\n
  • Problem is, unless they were part of the research, everything anybody sees is fake. Developers are the best at smelling this. A lot of people feel stupid playing pretend.\nThe goal of the personas is to represent alllll your users as ONE PERSON. Jillien is missing a whole lot about us. She’s also - I think - a lot less interesting than Jill or Kristen. It’s hard to feel like you can relate to her.\nMaking stuff up - the fake persona - makes it easier for people to add in other “little” details, usually ones that support the feature THEY want.\n
  • \n...and, this was our big question\n
  • ...how do you get from data to personas...\n...without the bullsh*t?\n\n
  • \n...we’re going to tell you a story of how we developed personas\n...want to walk through 5 steps we used\n...avoided BS along the way\n\n
  • ...the 1st important step is to get prepared.\n...how do you prepare for a personas project?\n\n
  • \nStart small.\n\nBig persona projects can be expensive. We were lucky, worked with Bolt Peters, but you might not always have those kind of resources.\n\nThe best prep for a personas project is to figure out: what you know and what you don’t know (what you still need to learn). This uncovered a bunch of other questions we didn’t even know we had...\n\nThis helps eliminate the BS by... allowing the project to even happen :)?\n\n
  • ...and, after you've gotten to know your customers a little bit\n...time to start collecting the RIGHT data\n\n
  • \nWe ran Ethnio on our website to intercept people\ndid we talk to everybody? \nHelp identify primary/secondary personas, segments\n\nThis helps eliminate the BS by... confirming you’ve talked with everyone and represented your entire user base. \n\n
  • ...and, ask the RIGHT questions. NOT opinions, or preferences\nNot “would you like this feature?” “Do you like the logo blue?”\nget DEEPER: motivations, “what do you want to accomplish?”\n\n
  • \n...ask them to tell a story or explain something\n...ask to define a word\n...keep asking why, like a 3 year old\n
  • \n...and, once you've finished several interviews\n...next step: start synthesizing what you are learning\nwhen do you know when you’re ready? when do you know you’re done?\nYou start seeing repeats\nCould be 5, could be 50 before you do - depends on your audience\n\n
  • \n...transcripts are helpful, (for analysis + sharing) - NOT JUST YOUR NOTES\n...what jumps out at you?\n\n\nThis helps eliminate the BS because... you are not leaving out the outliers, you use those stories to illustrate both the commonalities and what is different\n
  • \n\n...look for surprises\nthis story lives on where an “averaged persona” would not.\n
  • \n\n...don’t use INTERNAL language or PARAPHRASE\n...record their actual words + pull out those words\n...see relationships across users \n...based on the words they use\n\n\nThis helps eliminate the BS by keeping you from inserting your own internal language\n\n
  • \nThis eliminates BS by... taking your first stab at grouping people together. You are asking yourself, what is the first, most obvious ways people are similar to each other?\n\nSimilarities may be situational, or something else. You’ll know it when you see it.\n
  • JILL\n...and, don't just stop with SITUATION\n...try out other dimensions\n...group people by their DESIRE or APPROACH or OTHER attributes\n...keep interviewing until you see repeats\n\n\nMotivation > demographics, situation. Consider starting with situation (because it’s easy sometimes) but don’t end there, it might not matter\nTry on other aspects, do they apply consistently? Try grouping\nKeep interviewing until you see repeats, define groups\n\nThis helps eliminate the BS by... you are grouping people across multiple continuums. People are multidimensional, and cannot be only defined by their situation.\n\n
  • \n...apply your dimensions to EVERYONE\n...one by one...\n...tests your model...\nOf all combinations, only saw a few repeated\n\nThis helps eliminate the BS by... you are testing your model.\n\n
  • \n
  • \nNaked = share the model, don’t make stuff up\nNeed to refer to a persona, but not treat them like a single person.\nWhy? Because these personas are actually GROUPS of people.\nGroups of people are not homogenous.\n
  • \n...resist the urge to add stuff\n...focus on the answers to your WHY questions\n...strip to core - using their words\n\n\nHow do you describe the combination of dimensions/attributes in real language? USE THEIR OWN WORDS\n\nThis helps eliminate the BS by... using their own words, freeing you from having to make things up that they “might” say.\n\n
  • \n\nNO STOCK PHOTOS\nNO PERSONAL DETAILS\nAww, why not Harry the Hacker?\nneeds to be clear, and try it out\nNamed ours based on their motivation\n\nThis helps eliminate the BS because... you can easily reference back to their core motivation - since its in their name!\n\n
  • \n...get to a place when you can visually compare differences\n...get it out of your head\n\n
  • \n- share direct research as much as possible\n- cut out the BS\n- make it engaging, make it applicable\n
  • This helps eliminate the BS by... giving your team direct exposure to the research that went into the personas, and an easy way to compare...\n\n
  • \nWhy? \nwith a “representative” persona, you lose all the richness of reality.\n\nAlso why we shared video interviews, desktop screencap, \nSo many details would have been lost from our original research, but it’s hard to document all that.\nYou’ll find you can answer questions you didn’t anticipate by going back to primary research.\n\n
  • \nWe actually created a series of videos containing edited clips and images from our original research.\n\nThis helps eliminate the BS because... \n\nNeed to communicate the core information clearly and easily.\nNobody has time to watch 50 hours of video.\npeople can hear and observe directly what happened in the interviews.\n\n
  • So the first thing you want to do is go out and introduce people to your real users. We rolled ours out at a company meeting. But then we were left with a lot of people saying “ok great, those sound right, but what do we do with them?” THat’s where Jill came in.\n
  • I became the lunch lady, meeting with groups in the cafeteria to evangelize.\nEveryone needs to speak the same language\nEverybody needs to buy in\nIt helped us learn how they can evolve - where they weren’t meeting needs\nIt also helped us communicate what they were for, ie for the sales guy - demographics are not personas.\n\n
  • ...finally the last step is to APPLY them\n
  • \nWhen I started at lynda.com, I was handed a 184 item spreadsheet with projects that company stakeholders had proposed and wanted to complete that year. Almost all of them were marked “high priority”.\n\n\nThis helps eliminate the BS because... if you have a big list of really good feature ideas, how do you know which ones to work on first? How do you know who will use which feature? Should you work on everything? Use the personas to sift through the BS. De-prioritize features that are not clear which persona will use the product feature.\n
  • \n\n\n
  • \n\n“What did the persona research say?”\nSince we exposed the large amount if information behind it, people knew to ask because it might be there.\n
  • Point: Right after we finished the personas, our executives came to us and wanted us to create pretty critical new feature on the site: a queue. This would allow customers to add courses to a list, to watch later. They wanted to give them the ability to prioritize and organize things in their list.\n\n\n
  • \nPoint: The assumption was that EVERYBODY needed a queue, and that EVERYONE who uses our site was interested in saving things to watch later. \n\n
  • \nAt first..\nLet’s look at the Netflix Queue, I like Hulu, I would want to use it like this...\n
  • So we talked to users who’d requested the feature, made our best assumptions, built a prototype, and started watching customers use it. \n\n
  • We wanted to get people aware and engaged with the new feature as soon as it launched, since we felt it would be useful and help people engage with our content.\n
  • \nThen we started making it more obvious for people... We started to see that there were some people who found it useful, and some others who didn’t have time to watch things later... \n
  • \nNot everybody got it.\n
  • \nSo we tried to get people to see it.\n
  • Then we tried a video, but no-one wanted to watch it. Even lynda.com customers don’t like overview videos about your site features.\n\n
  • \n\n\n
  • ...Our designers got desperate\n...thinking this was a design flaw. \n...But then we realized something.\n\n\n
  • ...Our designers got desperate\n...thinking this was a design flaw. \n...But then we realized something.\n\n\n
  • ...Our designers got desperate\n...thinking this was a design flaw. \n...But then we realized something.\n\n\n
  • ...Our designers got desperate\n...thinking this was a design flaw. \n...But then we realized something.\n\n\n
  • We were just asking the wrong persona to test our prototype. It was never going to be useful to them - they just need to get an answer and get out, they’re not going to plan to watch things later.\n
  • \n
  • \n..if you want to make personas\n
  • ...cut out the BS\n...prepare, collect the right data\n...synthesize, make your personas\n...communicate and use them appropriately\n
  • \n
  • \n

No-Bullsh*t Personas No-Bullsh*t Personas Presentation Transcript

  • JillienThe Santa Barbara UX Meetup PresenterAge: 30Location: Santa Barbara, CAEducation: Master’s DegreeHousehold Income: $150,000/yearOccupation: UX Research Thought LeaderJillien lives with her loving husband, dog, and two yearold daughter. She’s expecting her second child in a fewweeks. Jillien loves running marathons, walks on thebeach, and taking pictures of puppies to put on theinternet.Jillien doesn’t have a lot of time or resources at herdisposal, but her boss has told her that it’s veryimportant to start developing personas, so she grabs adelicious salad from her company cafeteria and gets towork learning about personas.
  • Jillien The Santa Barbara UX Meetup Attendee Age: 30 Location: Santa Barbara, CANo-Bullsh*t Personas Education: Master’s Degree Household Income: $150,000/year Occupation: UX Research Thought Leader Santa Barbara UX Meetup – February 16, 2012 Jill Christ + Kristen Johansen Jillien lives with her loving husband, dog, and two year old daughter. She’s expecting her second child in a few weeks. Jillien loves running marathons, walks on the beach, and taking pictures of puppies to put on the internet. Jillien doesn’t have a lot of time or resources at her disposal, but her boss has told her that it’s very important to start developing personas, so she grabs a delicious salad from her company cafeteria and gets to work learning about personas.
  • What are personas?
  • “the user” = you
  • “the user” = you
  • “the user” = your mom
  • “the user” = a bunch of different people (with stuff in common)
  • Personas are not real people, but they represent them throughout the design process. They are hypothetical archetypes of actual users. Although they areimaginary, they are defined with significant rigor and precision. - Alan Cooper, The Inmates Are Running the Asylum, 2004
  • datapersonas
  • solution: the persona placemat
  • http://designedbyerica.com/portfolio_m2.html
  • http://wiki.fluidproject.org/display/fluid/Persona+Format
  • What do you mean my personas are bullsh*t?
  • Personas are not real people, but they represent them throughout the design process. They are hypotheticalarchetypes of actual users. Although they are imaginary, they are defined with significant rigor and precision. - Alan Cooper, The Inmates Are Running the Asylum, 2004
  • datapersonas
  • real data personas
  • real datafakepersonas
  • real datajust add bullsh*t!fakepersonas
  • http://www.thepassionoftheprogrammer.com/work/buckminster-fuller-institute/
  • http://creatingclassics.blogspot.com/2009/10/personas.html
  • http://designedbyerica.com/portfolio_m2.html
  • http://marketingenious.terapad.com/index.cfm?fa=contentNews.newsDetails&newsID=81532&from=archive
  • http://kikimarshall.wordpress.com/2011/11/24/its-persona-time/
  • most of the persona placemat is stuff that you made up
  • 1. the smell of bullsh*t can be overwhelming
  • 1. the smell of bullsh*t can be overwhelming2. average means boring
  • 1. the smell of bullsh*t can be overwhelming2. average means boring3. making stuff up makes it easier to makestuff up
  • So how do I eliminate the bullsh*t?
  • datapersonas
  • preparation the rightdata synthesis nakedpersonascommunicated^ appropriately and applied
  • preparation the rightdata synthesis nakedpersonascommunicated^ appropriately and applied
  • start small
  • preparation the rightdata synthesis personas naked ,communicated appropriately ^ and applied
  • see what the numbers have to say
  • ask the right questions
  • 1. ask them to tell a story2. ask to define a word3. keep asking why
  • preparation the rightdata synthesis personas naked ,communicated appropriately ^ and applied
  • pull out the best stuff from your notes
  • I was in prison for 12years. When I got out, IDidn’t know how tosendemail.” - Aaron, user 12
  • analyze the users’ language
  • compare their behavior
  • define your dimensions
  • apply your model to everyone
  • re-arrange and group
  • preparation the rightdata synthesis personas naked ,communicated appropriately ^ and applied
  • get at the core
  • cut out the bs, even when naming your personas
  • make it digestible
  • preparation the rightdata synthesis personascommunicated appropriately ^ and applied
  • share direct research as much as possible
  • little details can be important
  • little details can be important
  • make it engaging, share the important insights
  • evangelize your personas“I’ve totally talked to people like that...” - Customer Service
  • discuss personally, small groups
  • preparation the rightdata synthesis personascommunicated appropriately ^ and applied
  • prioritize
  • “I think our users would“it would be cool want...” if...” “I think our users would want...”“it would be cool if...” “I think our users would want...”“it would be cool if...” inform product decisions “I think our users would want...”“it would be cool if...” “I think our users would want...”“it would be cool “I think our users would if...” want...”“it would be cool if...”
  • “I think a culture of asking instead of making upestablish our users would want...”
  • the lynda.com queue
  • “the queue needs to work for everybody”
  • “the queue needs to work for everybody” “everybody” = ME
  • so we tested it with our actual users
  • “Hey, that’s just “I’d just use ‘my coursewhat I was asking history’... I just want to log for...” “Is the queue in and finish what I’ve been new?” working on..
  • YAY“Hey, that’s just what I “I’d just use ‘my course history’... I just want to was asking for...” ! NAY! log in and finish what I’ve been working on.. Get in and get out.” HUH? “Is the queue new?”
  • ... all the NAYs are“I can do if you want me to...”
  • good personas help with large and small decisions
  • In conclusion
  • preparation the rightdata synthesis nakedpersonas and applied ^communicated appropriately
  • use the personas to... ...establish a culture of research ...confirm product directions ...kill the bullsh*t
  • Thank you! @jillchrist @kristenjohansen