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Making Personas Work (Without Breaking the Bank) - UX London 2011

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Maybe you’ve thought about using personas, but been concerned about adopting an expensive tool. Perhaps you or some of your colleagues have tried using personas and been disappointed in the results. Personas seem like a simple concept, yet it’s all too easy to turn them into black holes that slurp up time and resources without giving you much that’s useful in return. Kim shares a number of brief case studies to illustrate how to get the most form these powerful tools.

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Making Personas Work (Without Breaking the Bank) - UX London 2011

  1. 1. Making personas work (without breaking the bank) Kim Goodwin UX London, April 2011 © 2010-2011 Kim GoodwinMAKING PERSONAS WORK WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK - UX LONDON 2011 Kim Goodwin © 2011
  2. 2. Persona n. A model of current human behavior that is - derived from contextual research data - described as if it were a real person - used to promote shared understanding & empathy - used in stories to envision the future © 2010-2011 Kim GoodwinMAKING PERSONAS WORK WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK - UX LONDON 2011 Kim Goodwin © 2011
  3. 3. Personas are like scalpels. © 2010-2011 Kim GoodwinMAKING PERSONAS WORK WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK - UX LONDON 2011 Kim Goodwin © 2011
  4. 4. Personas are like prescription drugs. © 2010-2011 Kim GoodwinMAKING PERSONAS WORK WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK - UX LONDON 2011 Kim Goodwin © 2011
  5. 5. They sometimes fail to cure the disease. 1/3 unhappy with results - don’t solve problem - not accepted © 2010-2011 Kim Goodwin Forrester, 2003MAKING PERSONAS WORK WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK - UX LONDON 2011 Kim Goodwin © 2011
  6. 6. They often cost more than they should. Typical: $80,000 / £49,000 Range: $20K - $650K / £12K - £400K © 2010-2011 Kim Goodwin Forrester, 2003MAKING PERSONAS WORK WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK - UX LONDON 2011 Kim Goodwin © 2011
  7. 7. How can we make personas effective & affordable? © 2010-2011 Kim GoodwinMAKING PERSONAS WORK WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK - UX LONDON 2011 Kim Goodwin © 2011
  8. 8. effective © 2010-2011 Kim GoodwinMAKING PERSONAS WORK WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK - UX LONDON 2011 Kim Goodwin © 2011
  9. 9. Case 1: GeekTools Inc. IT software “Users are like us” Provisional personas for scoping & scenarios Result: Easier process Still the wrong answers © 2010-2011 Kim GoodwinMAKING PERSONAS WORK WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK - UX LONDON 2011 Kim Goodwin © 2011
  10. 10. Personas offer shared understanding, not insight. Solution: Contextual research. © 2010-2011 Kim GoodwinMAKING PERSONAS WORK WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK - UX LONDON 2011 Kim Goodwin © 2011
  11. 11. Case 2: PhoneCo Good research Stakeholders participated Left out Europe (budget; did not expect behavior difference) Result: European team members did not accept results © 2010-2011 Kim GoodwinMAKING PERSONAS WORK WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK - UX LONDON 2011 Kim Goodwin © 2011
  12. 12. Case 3: MoneyBags Ltd. Financial services company Design team planned research without consulting Good data Good personas Result: Missed an important market segment Prevented acceptance of personas © 2010-2011 Kim GoodwinMAKING PERSONAS WORK WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK - UX LONDON 2011 Kim Goodwin © 2011
  13. 13. Research planning is a collaborative task. Solution: Interview all stakeholders, draft a plan, then review with everyone. © 2010-2011 Kim GoodwinMAKING PERSONAS WORK WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK - UX LONDON 2011 Kim Goodwin © 2011
  14. 14. Case 4: MegaComputing Company-wide persona initiative Central research team, not product-oriented Heavy quantitative research orientation Result: Personas focused on demographics, not useful for design Not focused enough for specific products Credibility of personas as a tool suffered © 2010-2011 Kim GoodwinMAKING PERSONAS WORK WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK - UX LONDON 2011 Kim Goodwin © 2011
  15. 15. Focus personas on behavior in a specific domain. Solution: Coordinate efforts, but do personas in conjunction with © 2010-2011 Kim Goodwin design projects.MAKING PERSONAS WORK WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK - UX LONDON 2011 Kim Goodwin © 2011
  16. 16. Case 5: BigBox Multi-channel retailer Stores, catalogs, mobile, web Divided into design teams by channel One channel team did personas Result: Learned a lot about other channels Generated interest on other teams, but not acceptance Still not able to design a cross-channel experience © 2010-2011 Kim GoodwinMAKING PERSONAS WORK WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK - UX LONDON 2011 Kim Goodwin © 2011
  17. 17. Focus research on user activities, not channels or products. Solution: Broad research involving multiple teams, if possible. © 2010-2011 Kim GoodwinMAKING PERSONAS WORK WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK - UX LONDON 2011 Kim Goodwin © 2011
  18. 18. Case 6: MegaComputing again Huge software company Much enthusiasm about personas PMs define requirements first, develop personas to fit Result: Personas have no visible impact © 2010-2011 Kim GoodwinMAKING PERSONAS WORK WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK - UX LONDON 2011 Kim Goodwin © 2011
  19. 19. Learn about human behavior & let that define the product. Solution: Educate PMs. Do personas before requirements. © 2010-2011 Kim GoodwinMAKING PERSONAS WORK WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK - UX LONDON 2011 Kim Goodwin © 2011
  20. 20. Case 7: DesignPro Consultants doing research for consumer product Good sample Good data Confident they knew how to do personas Result: Personas based on demographic factors were hard to use Missed a key behavioral pattern in the data © 2010-2011 Kim GoodwinMAKING PERSONAS WORK WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK - UX LONDON 2011 Kim Goodwin © 2011
  21. 21. It’s not exact science, but it’s worth being rigorous. © 2010-2011 Kim GoodwinMAKING PERSONAS WORK WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK - UX LONDON 2011 Kim Goodwin © 2011
  22. 22. Solution: Explicitly derive patterns from data. © 2010-2011 Kim GoodwinMAKING PERSONAS WORK WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK - UX LONDON 2011 Kim Goodwin © 2011
  23. 23. Case 8: Enterprise Systems Complex enterprise workflow Good sample Good data 10-page persona descriptions Result: No one wanted to read 10 pages Too much detail to work as archetypes © 2010-2011 Kim GoodwinMAKING PERSONAS WORK WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK - UX LONDON 2011 Kim Goodwin © 2011
  24. 24. Personas are shorthand for research, not complete reports. © 2010-2011 Kim GoodwinMAKING PERSONAS WORK WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK - UX LONDON 2011 Kim Goodwin © 2011
  25. 25. Solution:Keepdescriptions toa page or two.Add visualinterest. © 2010-2011 Kim GoodwinMAKING PERSONAS WORK WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK - UX LONDON 2011 Kim Goodwin © 2011
  26. 26. Case 9: ConsultingCo Client hired agency inexperienced with personas Personas expressed as bullets on slides Broad generalizations Little or no behavior Result: Didn’t catch on People confused them with segments © 2010-2011 Kim GoodwinMAKING PERSONAS WORK WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK - UX LONDON 2011 Kim Goodwin © 2011
  27. 27. Story makes it real. Behavioral detail makes it useful. Solution: Bullets are OK for quick reference, but start with stories. © 2010-2011 Kim GoodwinMAKING PERSONAS WORK WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK - UX LONDON 2011 Kim Goodwin © 2011
  28. 28. Case 10: Retailers R Us Consumer brand Several research teams in various departments Hired outside firm Good data Good personasResult: Designers didn’t use the personas © 2010-2011 Kim GoodwinMAKING PERSONAS WORK WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK - UX LONDON 2011 Kim Goodwin © 2011
  29. 29. The personas aren’t the point; the research is. Solution: Train designers & get them to join research. © 2010-2011 Kim GoodwinMAKING PERSONAS WORK WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK - UX LONDON 2011 Kim Goodwin © 2011
  30. 30. Case 11: HealthCorps Involved stakeholders in planning & research Covered all segments & geographies Added a role uncovered during research Addressed areas not immediately planned for product Marketed personas internally Used personas in employee orientation © 2010-2011 Kim GoodwinMAKING PERSONAS WORK WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK - UX LONDON 2011 Kim Goodwin © 2011
  31. 31. Case 11: HealthCorps Involved stakeholders in planning & research Covered all segments & geographies Added a role uncovered during research Addressed areas not immediately planned for product Marketed personas internally Used personas in employee orientation Result: Years ahead of competitors Market success Personas still in use 10 years later © 2010-2011 Kim GoodwinMAKING PERSONAS WORK WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK - UX LONDON 2011 Kim Goodwin © 2011
  32. 32. affordable © 2010-2011 Kim GoodwinMAKING PERSONAS WORK WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK - UX LONDON 2011 Kim Goodwin © 2011
  33. 33. Affordability isn’t always a prime consideration. Solution: Find a balance. © 2010-2011 Kim GoodwinMAKING PERSONAS WORK WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK - UX LONDON 2011 Kim Goodwin © 2011
  34. 34. For example, case 12: Consumer Financial Services Very customer oriented Used to doing lots of quantitative research Would not accept small sample Result: Twice the time and cost Execs were willing to pay Personas still in use 8 years later © 2010-2011 Kim GoodwinMAKING PERSONAS WORK WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK - UX LONDON 2011 Kim Goodwin © 2011
  35. 35. Case 13: OfficeWork Inc. Broad user base Planned sample of ~100 people in multiple countries Planned on outsourcing Result: Execs balked at time & budget © 2010-2011 Kim GoodwinMAKING PERSONAS WORK WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK - UX LONDON 2011 Kim Goodwin © 2011
  36. 36. Sample size, travel & outsourcing drive cost. Solution: Minimize ... but how? © 2010-2011 Kim GoodwinMAKING PERSONAS WORK WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK - UX LONDON 2011 Kim Goodwin © 2011
  37. 37. 1. Base sample on hypothesis about similar behaviors, not on job titles. 2. Consider staged research. 3. Consider coaching over outsourcing. © 2010-2011 Kim GoodwinMAKING PERSONAS WORK WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK - UX LONDON 2011 Kim Goodwin © 2011
  38. 38. Cases 14, 15, 16: Other expensive examples Persona living rooms Custom persona dolls Actors Result: Significant budget went to personas instead of design Probably some credibility issues © 2010-2011 Kim GoodwinMAKING PERSONAS WORK WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK - UX LONDON 2011 Kim Goodwin © 2011
  39. 39. Minimize time spent on design tools; maximize time spent on design. Solution: Use the least expensive approach that will achieve the goal. © 2010-2011 Kim GoodwinMAKING PERSONAS WORK WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK - UX LONDON 2011 Kim Goodwin © 2011
  40. 40. Provisional personasno research, informal documentation1 designer 500 / day 2 days £100016 stakeholders 500 / day 1/2 day £4000 £5000 © 2010-2011 Kim GoodwinMAKING PERSONAS WORK WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK - UX LONDON 2011 Kim Goodwin © 2011
  41. 41. Typical research-based personas, all internalSample of 20 people @ 4 / day = 5 days; self-recruit1 designer 500 / day 15 days £750016 stakeholders 500 / day 1/2 day £4000Interview training 500 / head 5 people £25005 stakeholders in 500 / day 2 days £5000interviewsParticipant gifts 50 20 people £1000Stock photos for 25 4 photos £100 © 2010-2011 Kim Goodwinpersonas £20100MAKING PERSONAS WORK WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK - UX LONDON 2011 Kim Goodwin © 2011
  42. 42. Complex audience plus coachingSample of 40 people @ 4 / day = 10 days; self-recruit1 designer 500 / day 25 days £125001 coach 1500 / day 10 days £1500016 stakeholders 500 / day 1/2 day £4000Interview training 500 / head 10 people £500010 stakeholders in 500 / day 2 days £10000interviewsParticipant gifts 50 40 people £2000Stock photos2010-2011 Kim Goodwin © for 25 8 photos £200personas £48700MAKING PERSONAS WORK WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK - UX LONDON 2011 Kim Goodwin © 2011
  43. 43. The most expensive research & personas are the ones you don’t do. Not having accurate or shared understanding costs in market share, support, development time ... © 2010-2011 Kim GoodwinMAKING PERSONAS WORK WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK - UX LONDON 2011 Kim Goodwin © 2011
  44. 44. How can we make personas effective & affordable? © 2010-2011 Kim GoodwinMAKING PERSONAS WORK WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK - UX LONDON 2011 Kim Goodwin © 2011
  45. 45. 1. Identify if you need personas, research, or both2. Do it in-house (with coaching if necessary)3. Get stakeholder participation in planning &research4. Focus on user activities, not products or channels5. Use a behavior hypothesis to guide sample size6. Balance buy-in & cost with scope & travel © 2010-2011 Kim GoodwinMAKING PERSONAS WORK WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK - UX LONDON 2011 Kim Goodwin © 2011
  46. 46. Thanks!determines whether people see you as a leaderkimgoodwin@mac.com@kimgoodwin © 2010-2011 Kim GoodwinMAKING PERSONAS WORK WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK - UX LONDON 2011 Kim Goodwin © 2011

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