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From Cradle to Grave:
Where does the Persona Live?
Ramya
@rams_mahalingam
PERSONA
PERSONA
A persona is a fictional, yet realistic, description
of a typical or target user of the product.
— Aurora Bedford,...
we’re not designing
for ourselves
PROTO – PERSONAS
“…they are that gut feeling you get during field research that tells you
there seem to be about X number of types of peopl...
SKETCH
+
NAME
SKETCH
+
NAME
DEMOGRAPHICS
SKETCH
+
NAME
DEMOGRAPHICS
BEHAVIORS
+
MOTIVATIONS
SKETCH
+
NAME
DEMOGRAPHICS
BEHAVIORS
+
MOTIVATIONS
GOALS
EMPATHY
EMPATHY
JUDGEMENT
1.
our comfort levels
we tend to make personas that are
safe, comfortable, and familiar
“Why are the poor people’s
pictures so much worse?”
“Why are the poor people’s
pictures so much worse?”
“Because these people
represent who we serve.”
“Why are the poor people’s
pictures so much worse?”
“Because these people
represent who we serve.”
“But why are the pictur...
“Why are the poor people’s
pictures so much worse?”
“Because these people
represent who we serve.”
“But why are the pictur...
2.
reductionary
& exclusionary
I’m guilty about not using it
right, or not using it enough
Who I am is not captured
I feel “Othered”
I feel less importan...
I feel like I’m using something
that wasn’t really built for me
3.
the focus
bad personas?
fiction
fiction
characterizing qualities
SKETCH
+
NAME
DEMOGRAPHICS
BEHAVIORS
+
MOTIVATIONS
GOALS
SKETCH
+
NAME
DEMOGRAPHICS
BEHAVIORS
+
MOTIVATIONS
GOALS
SKETCH
+
NAME
DEMOGRAPHICS
BEHAVIORS
+
MOTIVATIONS
GOALS
SKETCH
+
NAME
DEMOGRAPHICS
BEHAVIORS
+
MOTIVATIONS
GOALS
SKETCH
+
NAME
DEMOGRAPHICS
BEHAVIORS
+
MOTIVATIONS
GOALS
choices
our imaginary friends are fictional
but…
we’re still not designing
for ourselves
appearances and market segments
goals and motivations
appearances and market segments
goals and motivations
ENVISIONS
SKETCH
+
NAME
DEMOGRAPHICS
GOALS
BEHAVIORS
+
MOTIVATIONS
SKETCH
+
NAME
DEMOGRAPHICS
GOALS
BEHAVIORS
+
MOTIVATIONS
DEMOGRAPHICS
GOALS
Katie
BEHAVIORS
+
MOTIVATIONS
GOALS
Katie
BEHAVIORS
+
MOTIVATIONS
25 years old
Female
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Political Science major
Register...
GOALS
Katie
25 years old
Female
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Political Science major
Registered independent
Drinks a ...
Katie
25 years old
Female
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Political Science major
Registered independent
Drinks a latte ...
Katie
25 years old
Female
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Political Science major
Registered independent
Drinks a latte ...
25 years old
Drinks a latte every morning
Wants to develop an A+ coffee palate
To easily enter equipment updates
Keep trac...
25 years old
Drinks a latte every morning
Wants to develop an A+ coffee palate
To easily enter equipment updates
Keep trac...
iPhone 6 + Macbook Air
Typically tired when getting into work
25 years old
Drinks a latte every morning
Wants to develop a...
iPhone 6 + Macbook Air
Typically tired when getting into work
Interested in different coffee properties
25 years old
Drink...
use an iPhone 6 + Macbook Air
are typically tired when getting into work
are interested in different coffee properties
you...
CONTEXTUAL
EMPATHY
REFERENCES
Persona Non Grata, Dan Saffer, August 17 2005
Personas are "empathy tools," not stereotypes, Sam Ladner, 

Nove...
Ramya Big Design 2016 Persona Talk
Ramya Big Design 2016 Persona Talk
Ramya Big Design 2016 Persona Talk
Ramya Big Design 2016 Persona Talk
Ramya Big Design 2016 Persona Talk
Ramya Big Design 2016 Persona Talk
Ramya Big Design 2016 Persona Talk
Ramya Big Design 2016 Persona Talk
Ramya Big Design 2016 Persona Talk
Ramya Big Design 2016 Persona Talk
Ramya Big Design 2016 Persona Talk
Ramya Big Design 2016 Persona Talk
Ramya Big Design 2016 Persona Talk
Ramya Big Design 2016 Persona Talk
Ramya Big Design 2016 Persona Talk
Ramya Big Design 2016 Persona Talk
Ramya Big Design 2016 Persona Talk
Ramya Big Design 2016 Persona Talk
Ramya Big Design 2016 Persona Talk
Ramya Big Design 2016 Persona Talk
Ramya Big Design 2016 Persona Talk
Ramya Big Design 2016 Persona Talk
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Ramya Big Design 2016 Persona Talk

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Personas are used across a wide variety of design specialties, from UX to Information Design to Industrial Design. They’re often a key deliverable of the discovery phase of most projects, and are used to inspire empathy in the minds of the people who will be designing for them.

But after the discovery phase, the personas often die. And they die without ceremony. No tears are shed, there’s no funeral; it’s rare that there’s even an acknowledgement of their passing.

For a tool that’s meant to create empathy, does this seem particularly non-empathic?

This talk explores the utility of personas as a part of the design process, and how we could perhaps use them differently. (This description is as morbid as it gets.)

Published in: Design
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Ramya Big Design 2016 Persona Talk

  1. 1. From Cradle to Grave: Where does the Persona Live? Ramya @rams_mahalingam
  2. 2. PERSONA
  3. 3. PERSONA A persona is a fictional, yet realistic, description of a typical or target user of the product. — Aurora Bedford, Nielsen Norman Group
  4. 4. we’re not designing for ourselves
  5. 5. PROTO – PERSONAS
  6. 6. “…they are that gut feeling you get during field research that tells you there seem to be about X number of types of people and they seem to be significantly different on these 4-5 characteristics/dimensions.” — Todd Elliott, Adaptive Path PROTO – PERSONAS
  7. 7. SKETCH + NAME
  8. 8. SKETCH + NAME DEMOGRAPHICS
  9. 9. SKETCH + NAME DEMOGRAPHICS BEHAVIORS + MOTIVATIONS
  10. 10. SKETCH + NAME DEMOGRAPHICS BEHAVIORS + MOTIVATIONS GOALS
  11. 11. EMPATHY
  12. 12. EMPATHY JUDGEMENT
  13. 13. 1. our comfort levels
  14. 14. we tend to make personas that are safe, comfortable, and familiar
  15. 15. “Why are the poor people’s pictures so much worse?”
  16. 16. “Why are the poor people’s pictures so much worse?” “Because these people represent who we serve.”
  17. 17. “Why are the poor people’s pictures so much worse?” “Because these people represent who we serve.” “But why are the pictures of everyone else stunning? If this is how we view poor people (scuzzy, dirty), it will come across in our service to them – which is just as valuable as to the ‘good’ patrons.”
  18. 18. “Why are the poor people’s pictures so much worse?” “Because these people represent who we serve.” “But why are the pictures of everyone else stunning? If this is how we view poor people (scuzzy, dirty), it will come across in our service to them – which is just as valuable as to the ‘good’ patrons.”
  19. 19. 2. reductionary & exclusionary
  20. 20. I’m guilty about not using it right, or not using it enough Who I am is not captured I feel “Othered” I feel less important All of these personas are younger than me…does that make me old?
  21. 21. I feel like I’m using something that wasn’t really built for me
  22. 22. 3. the focus
  23. 23. bad personas?
  24. 24. fiction
  25. 25. fiction characterizing qualities
  26. 26. SKETCH + NAME DEMOGRAPHICS BEHAVIORS + MOTIVATIONS GOALS
  27. 27. SKETCH + NAME DEMOGRAPHICS BEHAVIORS + MOTIVATIONS GOALS
  28. 28. SKETCH + NAME DEMOGRAPHICS BEHAVIORS + MOTIVATIONS GOALS
  29. 29. SKETCH + NAME DEMOGRAPHICS BEHAVIORS + MOTIVATIONS GOALS
  30. 30. SKETCH + NAME DEMOGRAPHICS BEHAVIORS + MOTIVATIONS GOALS
  31. 31. choices
  32. 32. our imaginary friends are fictional
  33. 33. but… we’re still not designing for ourselves
  34. 34. appearances and market segments goals and motivations
  35. 35. appearances and market segments goals and motivations
  36. 36. ENVISIONS
  37. 37. SKETCH + NAME DEMOGRAPHICS GOALS BEHAVIORS + MOTIVATIONS
  38. 38. SKETCH + NAME DEMOGRAPHICS GOALS BEHAVIORS + MOTIVATIONS
  39. 39. DEMOGRAPHICS GOALS Katie BEHAVIORS + MOTIVATIONS
  40. 40. GOALS Katie BEHAVIORS + MOTIVATIONS 25 years old Female University of Michigan, Ann Arbor Political Science major Registered independent
  41. 41. GOALS Katie 25 years old Female University of Michigan, Ann Arbor Political Science major Registered independent Drinks a latte every morning Listens to Belle and Sebastian Bikes to work Wants to develop an A+ coffee palate Loves meeting new people
  42. 42. Katie 25 years old Female University of Michigan, Ann Arbor Political Science major Registered independent Drinks a latte every morning Listens to Belle and Sebastian Bikes to work Wants to develop an A+ coffee palate Loves meeting new people To easily enter equipment updates Keep track of when to order more syrups, etc. Find a job at a political theory publication
  43. 43. Katie 25 years old Female University of Michigan, Ann Arbor Political Science major Registered independent Drinks a latte every morning Listens to Belle and Sebastian Bikes to work Wants to develop an A+ coffee palate Loves meeting new people To easily enter equipment updates Keep track of when to order more syrups, etc. Find a job at a political theory publication
  44. 44. 25 years old Drinks a latte every morning Wants to develop an A+ coffee palate To easily enter equipment updates Keep track of when to order more syrups, etc.
  45. 45. 25 years old Drinks a latte every morning Wants to develop an A+ coffee palate To easily enter equipment updates Keep track of when to order more syrups, etc. iPhone 6 + Macbook Air
  46. 46. iPhone 6 + Macbook Air Typically tired when getting into work 25 years old Drinks a latte every morning Wants to develop an A+ coffee palate To easily enter equipment updates Keep track of when to order more syrups, etc.
  47. 47. iPhone 6 + Macbook Air Typically tired when getting into work Interested in different coffee properties 25 years old Drinks a latte every morning Wants to develop an A+ coffee palate To easily enter equipment updates Keep track of when to order more syrups, etc.
  48. 48. use an iPhone 6 + Macbook Air are typically tired when getting into work are interested in different coffee properties you want to easily enter equipment updates you want to keep track of when to order more syrups, etc. envision that you:
  49. 49. CONTEXTUAL EMPATHY
  50. 50. REFERENCES Persona Non Grata, Dan Saffer, August 17 2005 Personas are "empathy tools," not stereotypes, Sam Ladner, 
 November 17 2008 A Closer Look At Personas: What They Are And How They Work (Part 1), Shlomo Goltz, August 6 2014 Resurrecting Dead Personas, Meg Dickey-Kurdziolek, July 26 2016 Designing for imaginary friends: information architecture, personas and the politics of user-centered design, Adrienne L. Massanari, 
 June 12 2010 Is stereotyping inevitable when designing with personas?, 
 Phil Turner and Susan Turner, July 27 2012 Crappy Personas vs. Robust Personas, Jared Spool, November 14 2007 The Inmates are Running the Asylum, Alan Cooper, January 1 1999 Ramya @rams_mahalingam

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