Challenges Of Persona Adoption with Clients


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This is a talk I gave at UX Camp Brighton in October 2011. In the presentation I talk about the main challenges I've experienced with getting clients to understand and adopt personas and also some methods I've used to counter these challenges. (Notes are included with slides)

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  • Hello. Today I’ll be talking about personas! I want to look at how we can help clients adopt personas into their work lives and to get more value from them.\n\nWhat I thought I’d do is talk for about 10 minutes on my experiences then throw it open to the floor to get some input from you and the techniques you use.\n
  • I’m not going talking about what Personas are or how you should go about making them. I suggest if you’re not up to speed on them then you should read Alan Coopers “The Inmates Are Running the Asylum”. Then start crawling the web, there are lots of good guides and articles on the subject.\n\n
  • In my experience there are a number of challenges to client adoption of personas. The first challenge is selling them to the client in the first place. \nThey are quite often the first thing to get chopped when it comes to haggling over budgets but they really are vital for a user centred designed project. One of the main problems with persona adoption is that they’re perceived as a tool for the UX guy and not of much use to them.....\n\n
  • .....But can you blame them when all they get presented with something like this?\nThese foundation documents are a key part of the UX deliverables for a project and are the foundation for the work that the UX person will produce later but they should also form part of the day to day thinking for your clients.\n
  • So you get your graphics guys to make up some nice posters and you convince the client to get them up on the wall, then what? More often than not they are derided and made fun of then ignored because the client doesn’t know how to relate to them. \nThis is one of the posters that were produced for the BFI. The lady in the stock photo that was used has also featured in a charity health campaign, this was picked up by a couple of people in the team and her persona then was called “the cancer lady”. It took a long time to drop that monicker!\n
  • Part of the problem here is lack of understanding. I’ve seen personas either completely ignored or used as a catch all when talking about users. eg. web personas talked about for marketing.\nClients should remember that Personas are made around a specific organisational need. \nI’ve been in meetings where personas have been challenged as stereotypical, or too narrow, or not detailed enough to be useful. More often than not this comes from marketing where they are more used to audience segmentation based on quantative studies. \n
  • The other problem is that after a while the client becomes over familiar with the personas and starts to think that all users are like this. I’ve then seen this used an excuse not to talk to them. \nChallenging the personas through research is a good thing!! Don’t let them stagnate. If you need more for a different project then make them. If some of the personas aren’t ringing true then drop them or change them.\n
  • Ok, been through some of the challenges with getting clients to adopt personas. \nNow I’d like to talk about what we can do to help.\n
  • The first thing we should all be doing is spending a bit more time educating our clients. Not just as a footnote in a meeting or worse still emailing them but presenting to all the stakeholders. Take the time to introduce them properly in a dedicated meeting and explain the research and stats that helped form the persona then introduce them as if they were a new team member. Encourage the stakeholders to ask questions and challenge your assumptions. Only when they feel confident in your approach will they be more ready to adopt the personas.\n
  • Ok so we’ve spent time crafting our personas, we’ve handed over the foundation documents and convinced the stakeholders that the personas are solid. Lets now introduce our personas to the wider team. \nThe first thing to do is make them more accessible. Get your designers to produce professional looking posters, top trump style cards, flyers, card board cut outs! When I did some work with TFL we made handy fold out cards for everyone so that they could take them to meetings. I’ve heard that when Mircosoft were working on a version of Windows they employed actors to come in once a week and act the part of the persona, allowing the team to question them. A better (and cheaper!) route would be to recruit people who match your persona profile and allow the team to ask them questions.\n
  • But lets not stop at offline. I’ve heard of several occasions when people have setup ‘fake’ social media accounts for their personas which are updated regularly using platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and blogs. The status updates come from the UX team but are based on a variety of sources such as feedback received from users when new features are released or quotes from user testing.\n
  • Ok so I’ve talked a little about some solutions that other people use. Now I’d like to bring it back home and talk about what I’ve been doing and give you an example of what I’ve witnessed from my work with the BFI as their UX and Design Manager.\n\n
  • Cogapp produced these excellent personas as part of their work for the BFI.\nThe only problem was that apart from me not many people within the digital team were using or thinking about them.\nSo one of the first things I did at the BFI was print out the personas at a3 and stuck them on the wall.....and there they stayed for a few months being ignored. All this changed one day on a Friday afternoon in December when out of the blue some of the team began talking about the personas and then started to play a game, trying to guess what the personas favourite films would be.\n
  • This quickly spread across the office so what I did was gather together everyones top 10’s and put them into a tag cloud. In this case the team assumed that the persona ‘Nick’ likes a lot of classics and quite a broad range of genres. I was then curious to find out how accurate peoples perceptions of ‘Nick’ is so I built this top 10 question into the screener we used for our user testing and these are the results.....\n
  • So these films are from about 60 people we tested with over a number of months as oppose to the 15 or so from the web team. But straight away you can see how hard it is for us to ‘know’ our personas. As you can see there is a wide mix of films and genres, a lot of recent films. Some anomalies eg. brian cox, mr bean!\nWhether or not the team got it right or not isn’t important, what is is that they started thinking about the personas in a different way and using them more in their thinking.\n
  • Some of you may have heard me gabble on at UX brighton before about Agile. I’m a massive fanboy! \nWhat I wanted to do was get the team thinking more about our audience in our user stories and development so I integrated the personas into the user story templates. This is the project wall in the office...\n
  • ....and here is the template. The idea is that the user story is associated with a persona (shown here in the red box) who we circle then, using a system based on the Kano principle and feedback from real life users, we tick how important our persona rates the feature. This helps the product owner when is comes to prioritising the backlog. If you want to use this template you can download it from my website.\n
  • So thats all from me and my thoughts but what I’m really interested in hearing is your experiences.\n
  • Challenges Of Persona Adoption with Clients

    1. 1. CHALLENGES OF PERSONAADOPTION WITH CLIENTS UX Camp Brighton October 2011 - Mat Walker
    2. 2. “It may seem counterintuitive, butdesigning for a single user is themost effective way to satisfy abroad population.” Alan CooperChallenges of Persona Adoption - UX Camp Brighton October 2011 @mat_walker
    3. 3. THE BIG SELLChallenges of Persona Adoption - UX Camp Brighton October 2011 @mat_walker
    4. 4. Personal profile Jacques is one of three Procurement Managers for Europe within a Global chemical Jacques - Purchasing company and has responsibility for buying raw materials for two business units in Europe, but needs to obtain information worldwide because of regional Responsible for purchasing in a global interdependence in his product areas. His main task is to ensure constant supply of materials to the plant to keep it running efficiently. His budget is over 300m euro chemical company annually. He does his own forecasting and uses consultants also. He relies on his networking in the industry for information as well as using published sources. He likes to be on top of developments in the market to give him ammunition in negotiations. He s often dealing with 3 suppliers per product so time is pressured.User Goals (what Jacques wants to do on the site) Business Goals (what we want Jacques to do on our site)•  I need to assess contract volumes vs spot volumes – price information and comparisons are essential.•  I m dealing with purchasing for a range of product and want to be able to access online information •  Use xxxx weekly reports/assessments across multiple products in one quick& easy download. •  Use xxxxxx to find what prices are going to be over the next period•  I need information to be accurate so I am confident the market is not mislead and that the information •  Occasionally, use xxxxx when buying on the spot market (which will not provided is not going to be corrected afterwards. happen frequently)•  I would like the opportunity to comment on some raw materials information for which we are a major •  Use xxxxxxxx to inform on market conditions and activity in supply and user. demand and to inform his negotiations with suppliers.•  It interests me to keep up to date with news but I don t have a lot of time for this. •  Use xxxxxx ry to justify any changes in purchasing spend to his•  I need to have background information on the petrochem market - since other partners (suppliers/ management customers) have it, I need to have it too. •  Refer to market wrap-up summaries•  I want my information sources to be future focused not just historical. •  Call our editorial team and use them as an expert resource to understand•  I need to know about what is going on in low(er) cost counties like China or Eastern Europe. I need supply chain issues. better information on the Middle East. •  Attend industry events•  I need to have confidence that the people I am sourcing information from understand their markets.•  I need to be able to provide evidence to my manager to justify my annual purchasing spend e.g. showing an increase in spend is due to market conditions rather than a lack of negotiation on my part.•  I need to have information on import volumes of certain products, for example if there seems to be more of a certain product coming from Asia it may signal to me that I should look to sourcing my supplies there.•  I need reliable pricing data for purchasing strategies. A typical day… Internet behaviour Internet experience: Reasonably proficient I check out capacity changes in the market that may have an Primary uses: Keeping in touch with what s going impact on supply and demand. If I hear of a shutdown this mayPersonal information on in the industry, trigger a discussion with a supplier. I rely on my network of industry contacts for information – I know all the suppliers and Favourite B2B sites: CMAI, Platts, DeWitt, ICIS Profession: Corporate Purchasing Hours online per week: 8 to 10 at work they know us. I put together some graphs to provide information Location: Paris Device: Desktop, laptop, mobile, not to our buying centres worldwide and have a meeting with the Age: 45 interested in ICIS on PDA sales guys to give them an overview of trends and drivers so Home life: Married with children they can justify any changes in our prices. I discuss with my Hobbies: Football, meals out, cinema Other information sources colleagues the potential for sourcing some product in low cost Favourite TV shows: History channel, documentaries Trade magazines countries like India or China. Personality: Versatile, efficient Networking: I do a lot of professional networkingChallenges of Persona Adoption - UX Camp Brighton October 2011 @mat_walker
    5. 5. Karen (50) PhD student in lm studies “Film is part of our culture and should be celebrated as an important global art form” Functional goalsChallenges of Persona Adoption - UX Camp Brighton October 2011 @mat_walker
    6. 6. Challenges of Persona Adoption - UX Camp Brighton October 2011 @mat_walker
    7. 7. Challenges of Persona Adoption - UX Camp Brighton October 2011 @mat_walker
    8. 8. Challenges of Persona Adoption - UX Camp Brighton October 2011 @mat_walker
    9. 9. Challenges of Persona Adoption - UX Camp Brighton October 2011 @mat_walker
    10. 10. Challenges of Persona Adoption - UX Camp Brighton October 2011 @mat_walker
    11. 11. Challenges of Persona Adoption - UX Camp Brighton October 2011 @mat_walker
    12. 12. Challenges of Persona Adoption - UX Camp Brighton October 2011 @mat_walker
    13. 13. Alice Karen (32) events organiser (50) PhD student and busy mum in lm studies “Film is a passion of mine,Nick I just wish I could nd “Film is part of our culture and should(21) recent graduate more time to indulge it” be celebrated as an important global“I want to get my knowledge art form”up of British lms and thebest in World cinema”Nick is 21 years old, and has recently graduated. Functional goals Functional goals Functional goals added. her thesis. knows. Experience goals Experience goals want to lose touch with. Experience goals entertaining way. she knows. content. Life goals Life goals Life goalsWhy is Nick a challenge? Why is Alice a challenge?He is hungry for information but doesn’t know where to start looking, he requires routes for exploration and Why is Karen a challenge?discovery. site has much to offer her. She wants the web site to allow her to interrogate the whole archive in whatever way she chooses.‘cool’ movie sites. She has a high level of knowledge and won’t tolerate uninformed or shallow content. something other people do.recognises and content he can understand. Karen wants to construct complex searches and has high expectations of receiving comprehensive results. Challenges of Persona Adoption - UX Camp Brighton October 2011 @mat_walker
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    17. 17. ID Priority Wireframe No. Est. Size User storyduateknowledgeand thema” Alice (32) events organiserntly graduated. Functional goals and busy mum “Film is a passion of mine, I just wish I could nd knows. more time to indulge it” Experience goalsn entertaining way.D student Life goalsstudiesart of ourd shouldted as ane? global Functional goalst doesn’t know where to start looking, he requires routes for exploration and added.understand. Functional goals would really like it her thesis. Experience goals PO . Experience goals would expect it content. might use it it Unit Test Life goals Life goals Is unlikely ever to use it a challenge? really dislikes it User Test b site to allow her to interrogate the whole archive in whatever way she chooses.vel of knowledge and won’t tolerate uninformed or shallow content. hallenge? nstruct complex searches and has high expectations of receiving comprehensive results. r her. Challenges of Persona Adoption - UX Camp Brighton October 2011 @mat_walkerple do. ID Priority
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