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Personas - redesigning their content, rethinking their form

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This is for UX designers, HCI and service designers, as well as anyone in product strategy, marketing and product management. At IxDA on Thursday 27 Nov 2014, I shared how we at Atlassian redesigned our personas. But what's more important is how you can re-think your personas and not only design their *content* the right way, but their *form* in a new way, to make them much more intuitive to use.

Published in: Design

Personas - redesigning their content, rethinking their form

  1. 1. Personas - redesigning their content, rethinking their form BEN CROTHERS • DESIGN MANAGER • @BENCROTHERS
  2. 2. Personas are like asparagus ! If you’ve only ever had the canned stuff, you’d think that’s what asparagus just is, and you’d think it is truly awful. You would avoid it, and tell everyone else to avoid it too. And rightly so.
  3. 3. credit: wEnDaLicious | https://www.flickr.com/photos/wwny/
  4. 4. Personas are like asparagus ! But if you’ve tried real asparagus—especially lightly sautéed with hoi sin sauce and sesame seeds—then you’d be a fan. So many of us have only ever known the canned asparagus version of personas, and either dismiss them or are outright against them.
  5. 5. Real personas are great ! But real personas—created from qualitative and quantitative research, goal-based and related to the jobs that people actually need to get done— are incredibly useful at various points along the journey of designing and building websites and products.
  6. 6. A brief history of personas and sentiment CHI InterCHI 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020 ? 1983: Alan Cooper starts using them.
  7. 7. A brief history of personas and sentiment CHI InterCHI 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020 ? 1993: The word spreads at conferences. Distinction is made between marketing personas and user experience personas.
  8. 8. A brief history of personas and sentiment CHI InterCHI 1998: Alan Cooper publishes The Inmates are Running the Asylum. Personas go mainstream… 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020 ?
  9. 9. A brief history of personas and sentiment CHI InterCHI Personas go boom in a big way! Everyone loves them, but starts to confuse marketing vs. UX personas, and a lot of people do them poorly. 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020 ? We start to smell snake oil… ! Jason Fried crashes the party, saying they’re artificial, abstract and fictitious. :(
  10. 10. A brief history of personas and sentiment CHI InterCHI Personas go into free-fall! 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020 ? Kim Goodwin publishes Designing for the Digital Age, re-clarifying marketing vs. UX personas…
  11. 11. A brief history of personas and sentiment CHI InterCHI 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020 ? …but EVERYONE is putting the boot in now, including San Saffer. Jill Christ and Stephanie Carter talk about ‘BS personas’ and real personas
  12. 12. A brief history of personas and sentiment CHI InterCHI 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020 Confusion reigns…? ?
  13. 13. What are personas, again…? ! Representations of distinct groups of users Informed by research Authentic sets of goals and expectations that drive their behaviours Guide decisions about functionality and design
  14. 14. We use personas at Atlassian ! They have lots of researchy goodness baked in They stop is designing for ourselves We used them everywhere…
  15. 15. But we had problems
  16. 16. credit: http://www.stuff.co.nz/
  17. 17. We started playing favourites ! We got used to only using some and neglected the rest We were in danger of excluding significant use cases and behaviours
  18. 18. The personas had turned into just…artefacts ! They were up on the walls and in the toilets… But they faded into the background, and became wallpaper Us designers forgot that not everyone automatically knows how to use them
  19. 19. Their meaning was fading too ! Over time we habitually reduced our reference and understanding of the personas We ended up only using about 20% of what was in them
  20. 20. This persona should have had lots of detail… Alana Project Manager Product Manager CEO Systems Administrator
  21. 21. …But just became a ‘bossy manager’ cliché Alana Project Manager Product Manager CEO Systems Administrator
  22. 22. Insight ! Personas have to be relevant and useful How to use personas should be baked in Pay attention to the form, as well as content
  23. 23. So we redesigned their content and rethought their form
  24. 24. Our full-page personas now have more character and behaviours…
  25. 25. We made a big distinction between personas and roles… Alana Project Manager Product Manager CEO Systems Administrator
  26. 26. We made a big distinction between personas and roles… ! We have 14 products and 40,000 customers, with a huge variety of roles Atlassians love card games, so we repackaged the persona and role content…
  27. 27. And created them as cards Alana Project manager Product manager CEO Persona cards Systems Administrator Role cards
  28. 28. Role cards - What people do in a product Easy-to-scan front Questions this role would ask Personas most likely to do this role
  29. 29. Persona cards - How they do it Behaviours Characteristic quote Questions based on Alana’s attitudes
  30. 30. We play them together How might we improve charts in JIRA for Alana the Project Manager?
  31. 31. We play them together Or how might we improve charts in JIRA for Will the Project Manager?
  32. 32. Keep them simple! We thought it’d be awesome to have different skills, points, powers and upgrades! But no, if everyone were to use them, we had to keep them simple Maybe we’ll do skills and upgrades next time ;)
  33. 33. Persona sheets and cards - the system
  34. 34. Persona sheets and cards - the system We read the full-page versions to keep a comprehensive sense of each persona We use the cards by ourselves or in teams It’s about triggering richer conversations
  35. 35. Application #1: ‘Pick > Reveal > Discuss’ game: A team looks at a scenario to design for Each team member goes through the role cards and picks out the one they think is most important in that scenario Everyone reveals the one they chose, and then discuss any differences
  36. 36. Application #2: Pitch and critique A designer presents their designs The rest of the group critique the designs by playing out the scenario with each role involved, and with whichever persona matches that role
  37. 37. Application #3: Workflow modelling Product manager, designer and developers map out a workflow, with all roles involved in the scenario They then add different personas to the roles, to see how that would affect the flow
  38. 38. Your turn ! What would a mobile version of your personas look like? What could you bake in to make it more intuitive to use?
  39. 39. Go forth and make! (or print) ! Start with prototypes, make your own Get sets printed online for a slicker result (e.g. http://www.makeplayingcards.com/ )
  40. 40. Thank you BEN CROTHERS • DESIGN MANAGER • @BENCROTHERS

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