Persona Stories: Weaving together quant & qual for a richer picture


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Stories have power to add empathy and connection to our work. They can help us learn about people, culture, and context—why, when, and how our products might be used—and share this with a design team. Stories permeate UX techniques from user stories to storyboards. They come to full power when used with personas: the persona provides a fully envisioned lead character for the story, a perspective through which interactions can be explored, and a voice for the emotional reactions to design ideas.

Creating stories for personas is a craft. They are not fiction, but are grounded in the data and user research that informs the persona. They are not fact, but are imagined events, shaped to explore possibilities. They are realistic, but not perhaps real, because they represent not just one individual or event, but something that might happen, and that provides insights into a user experience.

These slides were used in a presentation at CHIFOO on February 5, 2014
CHIFOO members have access to the video of this presentation, with sign interpretation

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  • They are part of what we do
  • Research report on mobile applications.Picks up from the last story. Show the research context as well: I’m about to say something new .. this was an example.Then, we could talk about how many other people said similar things, what we think it means,which they liked best, etc. The last paragraph is the point: If we can keep it simple enough, they might use it.We had another story from the same research – another nurse was trying to decide what phone to buy, wanted to make sure it ran a specific application she’d found – one she found valuable. Turned the tables on us to ask our advice “because we must know about this stuff”Not contradiction: still not early adopters or comfortable, but knows a good tools when they see one
  • We used Jason characteristics as a filter:First visit between 01/01/10 and 31/03/10• First visit Attributable Type is Search• Referring search term contains ‘computing degree’• Exclude records with Staff ID, Tutor IDSample size 174 unique individualsMost likely to ‘click’ natural search result - 92%BSc (Hons) Computing (B29) is most likely to be the firstpage viewed – 60%If Computing and ICT or Computing subject pages are viewed then a qualification description is also likely to be viewed - 75%
  • 3. Be the persona (tell their story in first person - you’ll be surprised) [Client]: workshop to develop personas. When each group introduced in first person, their stories changed. The staff mostly represented one group of personas, but had trouble empathizing with othersFirst person, third person
  • In All the Beautiful Forevers, Kathering oo
  • Try telling the story in first person. Informance: Representing an idea by acting in order to explore, explain and share it.Role playing: Act out the interaction of serviceWhy?It’s harder to talk about someone when you are being themCheck whether reactions feel natural or forced
  • You have to be able to back them upYou have to know what stories you want to have toldStory about eyetracking hopping over the tile.
  • Persona Stories: Weaving together quant & qual for a richer picture

    1. 1. Persona Stories Weaving together quant & qual for a richer picture Whitney Quesenbery WQusability and Center for Civic Design Twitter @whitneyq
    2. 2. Hi! User research, usability, accessibility  Former theatre designer  Storytelling as a way to understand users, culture, and context in UX design  Passionate about civic design  New book on accessible UX   How about you?
    3. 3. Stories connect us
    4. 4. Personas & stories communicate patterns  Stories...   Communicate culture   Store and transmit knowledge Explore new ideas They help us…   4 Share information in memorable form Understand emotion and desires
    5. 5. Too often, quantitative data looks like this...
    6. 6. And even when it looks like this...
    7. 7. Or this, it still needs a storyteller
    8. 8. Stories let us fill in the gaps
    9. 9. Stories create relationships What do they share? What do they share? Who is telling the story? Who is the audience for the story?
    10. 10. A story is shared by everyone who hears it
    11. 11. Stories are building blocks
    12. 12. Explain patterns of use
    13. 13. Ten minutes is not enough. That's Tanner’s opinion about the time limits on using the computer at school. Last Friday, he started working on a geography assignment and look up some information about the animals in Africa. He had just gotten started when his turn on the computer was up. He’d like to work on it over the weekend, but can’t access the school library. He prints out a few things, and figures he will retype what he’s done when he gets home. What a bore. Communicate context (and emotion)
    14. 14. Show action over time
    15. 15. Narrative weaves the user journey into the structure of a site.
    16. 16. Rachel, Enthusiastic dreamer 28, finished one year at uni, works in an office Lives in North London with a partner Hasn’t settled down to a plan for her life Interested in Social Sciences FIRST CONTACT WITH THE OU: OU ON TV Insomnia led Rachel to the OU, watching programs on the telly. She starts to enjoy the programmes and thinks about doing something to improve her career. It takes her a long time to act on this idea, but she visits an Open Day. She spends ages thinking about it, sometimes browsing the web site, but also reading the brochures she has taken from the Open Day. On her third trip to an Open Day, she finally registers for an Openings course that’s about to begin. Fill in details and scenarios
    17. 17. Stories can explore unexpected data Gina gave us the first clue. She was a nurse manager for the county health system. “I’m on the move all day and I have a huge case load. Patients are always throwing new questions at me. Yesterday, I really struggled to sort out a problem one patient was having with side effects. I speak a little Spanish, but just couldn’t remember the correct medical term to explain a new adjuvant the doctor wanted to try. It was so frustrating.” She pointed at the sketch. “I don’t have a phone that will do all that...yet, but... if it’s really that ... simple…”
    18. 18. A lens into the data
    19. 19. What is the impact of search on the user experience?
    20. 20. Search and traffic analysis  The top searches are persistent (and have continued over time  With some seasonal variations
    21. 21. The search logs shows a classic “long tail” eggs onions cabbage vinegar potato salmon
    22. 22. We had personas George Martin Margaret Jason Abila Rachel
    23. 23. We* can use the personas as a lens into the data * by “we” I mean Viki Stirling and Sarah Allen the maestros of the analytics
    24. 24. Consolidating knowledge
    25. 25. Personas explore tensions in the design space
    26. 26. The personas show the faces of the journey
    27. 27. We mapped quantitative data to the persona  Demographics  Journey  Market segments  Task analysis  Skills  Usability needs  Other sites used
    28. 28. And showed data snapshots to reinforce knowledge
    29. 29. Revealing dreams Tomorrow and Tomorrow
    30. 30. Personas can embody data Maria Lea Emily • Community health worker in her Latino community • Married with grown children • Smartphone is her primary computer • Masters degree • Writer/editor for a trade publication • Works from home • Windows desktop • Graduated from high school and working on a college degree • Lives in a loft with a group of friends • Works part-time at a local community center
    31. 31. Maria "I love this. It's all here...when I can find it."  Ability: Prefers Spanish language sites, when she can find them; needs information and instructions written clearly  Aptitude: Adventurous, but not very proficient; husband and daughter set up bookmarks for her  Attitude: Thinks it’s wonderful to be able to have her favorite websites with her at all times  Assistive Technology: Skype, online translation sites  The data picture:  17.8 million people in the US speak English "less than well"  Latino aduls are more likely to use moile devices and search. Maria • 49 years old • Community college + healthcare certificate • Married, grown children • Spanish – English bilingual • Community health worker • Smartphone from her phone service, home computer primarily her husband’s, for his work
    32. 32. Lea "No one gets that this really is a disability."  Lea • 35 years old • Masters degree • Writes for a trade publication; works from home Ability: Fatigue from fibromyalgia, trackball, and special keyboard  Aptitude: Average user  Attitude: Wishes people would understand how hard it can be for her to make it through the day  Assistive Technology: Split keyboard, power keyboard user, Dragon Naturally Speaking  The data picture:  5 million people in the US have fibormyalgia, 80-90% are women  People with this and related diseases have increased sensitivity to pain
    33. 33. Emily "I want to do everything for myself"  Emily • 24 years old • Graduated from high school and working on a college degree • Lives in a small independent living facility • Works part-time at a local community center Ability: Cerebral palsy. Difficult to use hands and has some difficulty speaking clearly; uses a motorized wheel chair  Aptitude: Uses the computer well, with the right input device; good at finding efficient search terms  Attitude: Wants to do everything for herself; can be impatient  Assistive Technology: Communicator (AAC) with speech generator, iPad, power wheelchair  The data picture:  800,000 children and adult in the U.S. have one of the forms of CP.  Among all U.S. working age (18–64) people with disabilities, only 21% are employed full- or part-time.
    34. 34. Carol Jacob Lea Emily Steven Vishnu Accessible UX Personas Maria Trevor
    35. 35. How will you tell the story? Mary and Leonard Trujillo – The Mudhead Gallery
    36. 36. Stories are efficient Tanner was deep into a Skatepunkz game—all the way up to level 12—when he got a buddy message from his friend, Steve, with a question about his homework. He looked up with a start. Almost bedtime and his homework was still not done. Mom or Dad would be in any minute.
    37. 37. Each voice is a perspective Third Person Second Person First Person Story is told about someone, looking at them from the outside Story is told from the point of view of the main character For example: A UX person telling stories about how several different people responded to a prototype. For example: Feedback to a participant or other stakeholder, For example: A UX person telling the story of their own reactions. “Interviewing a persona” Persona stories, especially if there is more than one Talking directly to users of a product Retelling a story from the point of view of the original experience. Maintains a distance between “us” and “them” 42 Story is a conversation between the storyteller and another person Creates a direct connection and invites the other person to respond. Invites the audience to look at the story through the eyes of
    38. 38. 3rd person allows you to explain and interpret Mary works as a nurse in a hectic women’s health center for a lowincome neighborhood. … Her questions about cancer mostly come from her patients, or from wanting to be sure that she catches any early signs. … She has learned conversational Spanish, so she can talk to her patients for whom this is a first language. … When she looks things up on the Web, she tends to go back to familiar sites Whose words and thoughts are these?  Are these things that Mary would say or are they our interpretation of all the data and stories that went into the Mary persona?  How can we show when we are using her own words?  Does this story invoke research authority- a “realist tale”? John van Mannen – Tales from the Field
    39. 39. 2nd person creates conversation How can you show the conversation?   Persona by Caroline Jarrett for the Open University Interviews maintain a separation Conversations can also happen between two personas
    40. 40. 1st person invites identity  You represent the persona and tell the story from their point of view.  Lets you “get into the head” of the story (an “impressionist tale”) OR  45 First person can tell your story of your experience with the person (a “confessional tale”)
    41. 41. Stories are not a detailed task analysis Focus on the story  Establish the scene with imagery  What’s the time-frame?  What’s the emotional context Think about the persona’s perspective  How do they see the events or interaction?  What words do they use? Style of language?  What are the boundaries of the story from their point of view? (Hint: it might not be your product!) Don’t use the story to describe the user
    42. 42. Use (relevant) details to compare and contrast  Include details outside of their interaction with your product, but connect them to behavior that is relevant.   Think about counter-intuitive details   Example: The youngest persona may not be the most technology savvy or have the most advanced mobile technology. Show interactions with other products, organizations, or activities   Example: How central to their lives is this activity? Example: Using recipe sites shows how nurses will use complex search when they understand the context. Add a little human interest  Example: What kind of pets do all the personas have? What sport do play? What books are they reading?
    43. 43. Personas and their stories give us... A richer understanding of context Innovation from real needs More persuasive ideas People in the center of the process
    44. 44. Stories create empathy Screen: For more::
    45. 45. Stories change how we think Our experience of the world is shaped by our interpretations of it, the stories we tell ourselves.... so the key to personal transformation is story transformation. - Timothy Wilson, Redirect Screen from Tripit
    46. 46. Personas (and stories) travel thru the UX journey Gather information - both qualitative and quantitative – about the audience Understand Create personas that reflect the breadth and depth of the audience Evaluate Personas can be a vehicle for evaluation, or a check on usability test participants Specify Design Use the personas to explore current problems and new design ideas
    47. 47. A story is successful when it gets repeated  Based on real data  The stories you want told  Generate insights and empathy & that lead to action!
    48. 48. Storytelling for User Experience with Kevin Brooks Global UX with Daniel Szuc A Web for Everyone with Sarah Horton
    49. 49. Whitney Quesenbery @whitneyq Center for Civic Design whitneyq@centerforcivicdesign @ChadButterfly