Personas & Web
Development
Kathy E. Gill
Personas
• Credited to Alan Cooper
• A user archetype used to help guide decisions
about product features, navigation, and visual
design
Who are the important
users?
• Always more than one group of users (if only
beginner, intermediate, advanced)
• What technologies do they use?
• Essential to understand information needs of
audience (and their vocabulary!)
• How else can you organize content so that they
can find what they are looking for?
Know your site visitors
• ID audience segments, prioritize
• Use log files
• Consider privacy issues
• Personalization
• Cookies
• Create personas based on research (ideal) or
ad hoc (Norman)
Ideal Persona
Development
• Synthesized from a interviews with real
people
• Summarized description includes behavior
patterns, goals, skills, attitudes
Persona Descriptions
• Personas represent behavior patterns, not job
descriptions!
• It’s not a list of tasks, although the narrative
that describes the flow will touch on tasks
Experience Goals
• How the persona wants to feel when using a
product
• Having fun and not feeling stupid are
experience goals
• Usually there is one persona to represent
those of us with a lot of anxiety about
technology
• From Perfecting Your Personas
End Goals
• What happens when the persona uses the
product?
• Create an award-winning publication
• Become more efficient with time
• Reduce accounting errors
False Goals
• Save memory
• Easy to learn
• Protect data integrity
• How do these differ from End or Experience
Goals?
Personas and Marketing
• Your marketing and sales targets may not be
your design targets
• Example: In-Flight Entertainment System. Who
is the better design target? The business
traveler or the retired homemaker? Why?
Types of Personas: Olsen
• Focal (primary)
• Secondary (satisfy when we can)
• Unimportant (low-priority)
• Affected (bystanders, of a sort)
• Exclusionary (not gonna bother)
• Stakeholders (people who write checks)
• From Boxes and Arrows
Types of Personas:
Cooper
• Primary and secondary -- design for primary
Cooper’s Premise: what would you get if you tried
to design a car that everyone would want to drive?
• Tip: Focus on three or four goals that are
specific to your product or service
Quotable
• “Personas, like all powerful tools, can be
grasped in an instant but can take months or
years to master.”
• Alan Cooper, 2003,
http://www.cooper.com/content/insights/newslett
ers/2003_08/Origin_of_Personas.asp
Persona – Ellen
Ellen has just entered her senior
year at Lincoln High School in
St. Louis, Missouri. She enjoys
speech and English class, hates
trigonometry, and is active in the
tennis club. Her parents both
work full time. …
Persona – Robin
Robin is a product manager for
an enterprise B2B vendor with
a direct sales force. She
manages all aspects of product
management for three
products. She is 35 years old
with a college degree and
some MBA classes. She earns
$85,000 a year and is eligible
for an $8,000 bonus based on…
Personas in Practice
(1/3)
• Help focus attention on a specific audience
• Help make assumptions about the target
audience more specific
• Help avoid the trap of building what users
think they want rather than what they will
actually use
Personas in Practice
• Help avoid the trap of building what
developers think users want
• Provide a benchmark for measurement
(decision-making)
• Help prioritize ideas, features (decisionmaking)
(2/3)
Personas in Practice
(3/3)
• Personas are a medium for communication:
once a set of personas is familiar to a team, a
new finding can be easily communicated:
“Alan cannot use the web site search tool” has
more punch than “our usability testers had
trouble with search”
From Microsoft, Personas: Practice and Theory
How Personas Work
• Power of narrative to engage
• Help create scenarios that work
• Breathe life into task analyses
(1/2)
How Personas Work
(/2)
• Theory of Mind: 25 years of psychological
research on how we can predict another
person’s behavior based on understanding
their mental state
• Also from Personas: Practice and Theory
In Sum, Needed Details:
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•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
A real name
Age
A photo
Personal info, including family and home life
Work environment (not a job description!)
Computer proficiency and comfort with the Web
Info-seeking habits
Attitudes, including pet peeves
Personal and professional goals
Motivation: why would this person use your high-tech product?
From Alan Cooper, The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Why High-Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity, Indianapolis: Sams, 1999.
Conclusion
• Personas are a tool which enables the design
team to communicate nuance and emotion,
with the goal of creating a product that more
closely meets target audience needs
Exercise 1
• Users of an airline site:
• parents with two small boys, single woman
business traveler, grandma going to visit grand
kids
• Users of IRS site:
• 18 year old filing first tax return, new small
business owner, someone who has just retired
• User of job-search site
• 22 year old college grad, new immigrant from
Guatamala, 45 year old project manager
Exercise 2
Thinking about a county elections website
• What might be the different types of users
• What kinds of information might they want to access
• How should the website communicate those things to
the different audiences
• How would you develop these personas
Notes here (one notetaker per team, share names of
team) : http://willyou.typewith.me/p/personas
Credits
• Kathy E. Gill, @kegill or http://kegill.com
• Creative Commons: non-commercial,
attribution, share-and-share alike