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UX in the Real World: There's no such thing as "No Persona"

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You've either got Good Personas, or .... you've got Zombies!

How zombie peronsas are created, how they can eat your project team's brains and how to protect your project team from them.

Published in: Technology, Business
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UX in the Real World: There's no such thing as "No Persona"

  1. 1. Personas: Love ’em or Hate ’em, you can’t NOT use ’em.<br />
  2. 2. Who am I?<br />Tom Allison, UX Researcher and Designer <br />Masters in Human Computer Interaction from University of Michigan School of Information 2004<br />Six solid years of zombie persona hunting<br />
  3. 3. Who are you?<br />How many of you know what personas are?<br />How many of you have made one?<br />How many of you use them regularly?<br />How many of you believe in them?<br />
  4. 4. PERSONAs<br />At varying levels of detail depending on the project need.<br />The Parts: Picture, Name, any formal title, description of physical, emotional and aspirational context surrounding interaction with system<br />
  5. 5. Life-cycle of a “good persona”<br />Research to discover potential personas<br />Selection (e.g., Target-persona Exercise)<br />Central to Design, Specification and Acceptance<br />> Not simply an imaginary construct, but based on immersive research with real users<br />> Not an endpoint – not “a deliverable” or an “artifact” – it must be a tool-embedded-in-a- process<br />
  6. 6. TARGET-PERSONA EXERCISE<br />A good example of “collaborative sense-making“<br />This exercise, conducted early-on by the design team with the full participation of the project sponsor, integrates early research, helps to establish “common ground” across all project participants going-forward, brings conceptual issues to the surface early and contributes, perhaps more than any other single activity, to a truly UX-focused project outcome. Personas alone are not enough. They must be made an on-going part of the design and development process. The Target-Persona Exercise is a tool to help that happen.<br />=<br />Prospective Personas<br /> + Project Sponsors <br /> + Design Team<br />
  7. 7. Good Personas<br />Have these characteristics:<br />Are the result of field observation<br />Are collaboratively selected from a constellation by the project sponsor<br />Are well-known and referenced by all the members of the team throughout the project<br />and perform these valuable services:<br />Engage empathy for the end-user in all phases of decision making <br />Shift discussions away from ego-quicksand<br />Guard against Zombie Personas…<br />
  8. 8. Why “Zombies”?<br />They thrive in obscurity<br />They’re not really “alive” (to the project) and, at the same time, they’re hard to kill<br />They don’t seem that dangerous, but they’ll eat the brains of your project team<br />They are afraid of “the light of collaborative day”<br />
  9. 9. The most common (and dangerous) types of Zombie Personas*<br />Mirror Personas<br />Undead Personas<br />Unicorn/Frankenstein Personas<br />Stupid User Personas<br />*If you’re viewing this slide deck without narration, be sure to check out the notes – especially for this slide.<br />
  10. 10. My thesis, one last time:<br />There’s no such thing as “not using personas”.<br />Either, you have a Good Persona:<br />+ Process<br />Or…<br />
  11. 11. You’ve got ZOMBIES!!!<br />
  12. 12. Why not use a real user?<br />Either as a persona<br />Practicality: privacy – a useful persona needs to be widely and freely shared<br />Can’t pull info from all stake-holders by having them contribute to the persona when it’s not a fictional construct<br />Or, as a member of the team<br />Stockholm-syndrome<br />Would a typical user volunteer to do this?<br />People lie (inadvertently, mostly) – People don’t have conscious access to learned routines, but they will try to be helpful and answer your questions, none-the-less<br />
  13. 13. When might personas not be needed? (exceptions which prove the general rule)<br />Project’s success or failure has nothing to do with end-user acceptance – then again, UX is unlikely to be a role in such a project<br />Designing for a very small number of easily available users (but don’t make the mistake of thinking you can “just ask them”, cf. distinction between explicit and implicit knowledge)<br />Designing in a small team for exactly the mirror persona (e.g., 37Signals) – that is, when Zombies are a passable match for your end users ;)<br />
  14. 14. Some resources for the war against Zombie Personas:<br />Alan Cooper: About Face 2.0, Wiley Publ. Inc. (2003)<br />“Real or imaginary: the effectiveness of using personas in product design” by Frank Long <br /> From conclusion: “This study demonstrates the effectiveness of using personas in the product design process…”<br />“Before Creating the Car, Ford Designs the Driver” NYTimes: July 17, 2009. If you’re skeptical about taking personas seriously for big projects, definitely check this out.<br />Both this talk and my talk regarding Menlo Innovations (the most zombie-persona-free zone I’ve ever worked in) are available on SlideShare<br />
  15. 15. This talk and other juicy bits of UX lore will be featured on a new podcast from Berlin:<br />
  16. 16. Questions?<br />See my profile on Xing and LinkedIn:<br />http://www.xing.com/profile/Tom_Allison<br />http://de.linkedin.com/in/thomaslawrenceallisonii<br />Check out our UX Café podcast to hear the audio of this presentation – and join the discussion:<br />http://www.uxcafe.de/2010/06/zombie-personas/<br />

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