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Thinking Inside the Box: Using Personas to Prioritize Content


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Usability Professionals Association Conference, Vancouver, Canada

Published in: Design, Technology, Education
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Thinking Inside the Box: Using Personas to Prioritize Content

  1. 1. Thinking Inside the Box Using Personas to Prioritize Content June-July 2005 UPA 2005 conference Katrina Friedman, Hot Studio
  2. 2. ©2004 Hot Studio Page 2 About me Former writer Then content strategist Then IA Now Director of UE, Hot Studio
  3. 3. ©2004 Hot Studio Page 3 Are you thinking inside the box? Content goes here
  4. 4. ©2004 Hot Studio Page 4 When content goes wrong Nothing can blow up a project like poorly planned and managed content process It’s often the thing that stands between a great design and a great site.
  5. 5. ©2004 Hot Studio Page 5 Our magic weapon Persona? Yes! Missile defense system? No!
  6. 6. ©2004 Hot Studio Page 6 What is a persona? Alan Cooper: “We make up pretend users and design for them. We call these pretend users “personas” and they are the necessary foundation of good interaction design.” (from “The Inmates are Running the Asylum”)
  7. 7. ©2004 Hot Studio Page 7 How do we use personas today? The good: They help design teams to think about who they are designing for. They can be a powerful tool in building consensus. The bad: After they’ve been created, they often sit on the shelf, collecting dust. They can be somewhat time-consuming to create, for little payoff if they’re not used throughout the project.
  8. 8. ©2004 Hot Studio Page 8 Personas can help Age: 37 Job: Technology Coordinator, Grandview Elementary School Responsibilities: • Research • Support • Teaching • Training Experience: • 14 years in education • Previously taught English and 3rd, 4th & 5th grades • Four years in current job Barbara, tech coordinator “Help me find a technology product that’s going to improve achievement but won’t scare away teachers .”
  9. 9. ©2004 Hot Studio Page 9 Example: Educational technology company Project: Redesign site to better support sales process.
  10. 10. ©2004 Hot Studio Page 10 Challenge: Explaining the products
  11. 11. ©2004 Hot Studio Page 11 Step 1. Create personas Goals: • Recommend the best technology possible • Keep her boss happy • Provide technology solutions that are easy for everyone to use Barbara “Help me find a technology product that’s going to improve achievement but won’t scare away teachers .” Pain Points: • Finds it difficult to work with technophobic teachers and staff • Funding is tight and grants are rare • Burned in the past when a vendor went out of business • Very busy with constant interruptions from students and staff
  12. 12. ©2004 Hot Studio Page 12 Step 2. Extract key questions What do you have to offer me? Does it work? How does it work? Who uses it? What do other people think about it? What do I need? What does it cost? How do I purchase it? Is it easy to implement? Is it easy to use? How can I give others the info they need to make a decision?
  13. 13. ©2004 Hot Studio Page 13 Step 3. Map existing content to questions key questions old content gaps
  14. 14. ©2004 Hot Studio Page 14 Step 4. Map new content to questions old contentkey questions new content
  15. 15. ©2004 Hot Studio Page 15 This method worked well for Identifying content gaps Prioritizing what new content should be created Helping client plan for additional resources needed
  16. 16. ©2004 Hot Studio Page 16 Happy ending
  17. 17. ©2004 Hot Studio Page 17 Example: Leading specialty retailer Project: Redesign corporate site for leading specialty retailer to better reflect brand.
  18. 18. ©2004 Hot Studio Page 18 Challenge: Responding to a gazillion requests From Governance & Compliance More robust information on the board; From Corporate Sales Visibility (of corp. sales info) on with links to the Corporate Sales site for more information; Messaging about company Inc.’s policy on unsolicited proposals (for Corp Sales); From company Foundation company Inc. executives speak to importance of company Foundation; Images of employees volunteering; Metrics (hours and dollars donated); International efforts in Canada and Europe, eventually reaching out to Asia (need to budget for international funding); Expanding employee gift-matching programs; From Compliance & Environmental Affairs Content that educates people on what each issue is; Content that educates people about what company means by social responsibility; Tell a Friend; Links to reports published by third parties; A short description about what third parties are saying about company’s role on certain issues, along with link to their sites; Curriculum for school kids ; Video clips (e.g., interviews with vendor compliance people); Information on the vendor approval process; Provide updated information on the “product lifecycle” (and provide more detail than is currently on the site); Explain decision-making process; Provide ways to interact with the information (e.g., clickable diagrams); Use more graphs and other visual representations of important information; From Global Media Pitch stories to media with downloadable press kits (PDF); Add messaging about sponsorships (“company Inc. does not accept unsolicited proposals”) near/within Contact info; Provide videos of TV commercials* ; Special content area with sneak previews of upcoming commercials, imagery for new season for fashion press; *Repurpose FAQs in appropriate places (e.g., Social Responsibility); Showcase community relations work in Europe (some of this content exists on companyWeb); Talk about brand-specific sponsorships in Press Room; Show product prices; Consolidate Contact Us in one place; From Investor Relations Give definitions of financial terms and how to understand financial reports; Downloadable financials as Excel spreadsheets, in addition to PDFs (very useful for analysts who need to make their own projections with this data); Product walk-through (must be password-protected); Some standard questions (flow dates, commercial dates) we can’t answer, but maybe we can provide historical dates or other related information; From Recruiting Add links to international job sites for company Inc. (France, Canada, UK, Japan); Eventually offer careers section in multiple languages (French, Japanese, English) and tailored to the country’s culture (e.g., country- specific benefits).; Make store pages look exciting and vibrant, with photos of different locations and amenities; Bundle marketing information into a “job seeker kit” for candidates (articles, at-a-glance, annual report, CSR report, brand marketing material, links to maps, and directions to locations of interviews and work sites); Add content about cities (e.g., what is San Francisco like, what can I do there, housing costs, what’s it like to work there); Add more content about career paths, locations and pictures of company’s work sites, recruiting process (what to expect), audio clip, “on boarding” kit, “pre-boarding” kit for new hires; Add more information about fashion (especially for Japan), why company Inc. is the world’s largest specialty fashion retailer, differentiators; Add section about company Inc. designers, with bios and awards for best-designed pants, etc. New Functionality Requests Need printer-friendly versions of pages; Want to be able to track previous versions (this is mostly a CMS tool issue; however, we may need to provide a date stamp to each page); Provide a mechanism to notify “subscribers” if new information is published about a specific issue (global compliance and environmental affairs); Provide a useful search and make it generally easy to find information; Develop process for alerting media team members of new information/press kits on the site; Improve and expand on email alerts for disseminating timely information; Allow recruiting team to list all job postings on the site (team currently has issues with posting process for logistics, call centers, college-related, field, and hourly jobs); Provide means for recruiting team to monitor metrics; Use an easy-to-remember URL (from recruiting team); Add to job application “are you willing to relocate, and to which countries/cities?”; Allow candidates to categorize questions when sending email to expedite response process. More than 50 requests for new content or functionality!
  19. 19. ©2004 Hot Studio Page 19 Step 1. Create personas “I live my life “according to my “values. My husband “and I encourage our “children to be active “in our community.” --Louise, socially responsible investor “I’m not just looking for a job after college— I want to find a good“career path in business.” --Carl, job seeker “I can read a balance sheet in 2 seconds. Don’t make me waste 10 minutes finding it.” --John, institutional investor Everyone else (includes students and current employees who use the corporate site) “I just got moved into “business reporting, “but I don’t know “what all the “numbers mean.” --Jessica, business reporter
  20. 20. ©2004 Hot Studio Page 20 Step 2. Organized list into categories Executive board -- more robust information Executives speak on Foundation Foundation metrics—hours and dollars donated International efforts—community work in Canada, Europe, and eventually, Asia Employee gift-matching programs—info on how these are expanding Global Cmplnce & Envtl Affrs Compliance and environmental background—info to educate people about what company thinks about issues Definition of Social Responsibility—explain what this means to company What third parties are saying about company and CSR—short descriptions and links to reports Curriculum for the classroom (CSR)—similar to press-kit download Vendor approval process—info on the process, video clips with compliance people, clickable interactive diagrams, etc Product lifecycle—updated info (and illustrations) with more detail than currently available Global Media Downloadable press kits—organized on theme-based stories TV commercials—short video clips with accompanying text Brand-specific sponsorships—e.g., Banana’s sponsorships of the arts, etc. Product prices—in all currencies where company Inc. has presence (note that this is problematic) Definitions of financial terms—e.g. How to read the financial report Excel spreadsheets—financials in downloadable format for analysts Product walk-through—video, or still photos and text Multiple country versions of careers section—Japanese, French Recruiting Job-seeker “kit”—including at-a-glance, annual report, CSR report, etc. Content about cities—where company Inc. has offices, including maps, photos, directions Career paths at company Inc.—additional info to cover all main departments, could include employee profiles Recruiting process (what to expect) On boarding and pre-boarding kits Company and fashion—why we’re world’s largest specialty fashion retailer; great ops for designers Company designers—bios/profiles, awards
  21. 21. ©2004 Hot Studio Page 21 Step 3. Map content requests to user needs content requests “I want this!” items
  22. 22. ©2004 Hot Studio Page 22 Step 4. Show level of effort for “I want this” Easy, medium, or lots of workcontent requests
  23. 23. ©2004 Hot Studio Page 23 Step 5. Make final recommendations content requests Easy, medium, or lots of work
  24. 24. ©2004 Hot Studio Page 24 Step 6. Rinse and repeat for functionality requests
  25. 25. ©2004 Hot Studio Page 25 This method worked well for Site that already had a lot of content Giving order to long list of requests Giving a large and diverse group a chance to participate Keeping internal politics to a minimum
  26. 26. ©2004 Hot Studio Page 26 Happy ending text
  27. 27. ©2004 Hot Studio Page 27 Deep Thoughts Be sure to focus on most critical questions Give everyone their say but don’t make any early promises Color-coding made a big difference Use the personas’ words and photos wherever possible Be sure to focus on most critical questions Give everyone their say but don’t make any early promises Color-coding made a big difference Use the personas’ words and photos wherever possible
  28. 28. ©2004 Hot Studio Page 28 Thank you Katrina Friedman Hot Studio 848 Folsom St. #201 San Francisco, CA 94608 415.284.7250 x34