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Über dieses Buch

People relate to other people, not to simplified types or segments. This is the concept that underpins this book. Personas, a user centered design methodology covers topics from interaction design within IT, through to issues surrounding product design, communication, and marketing.

Project developers need to understand how users approach their products from the product’s infancy, and regardless of what the product might be. Developers should be able to describe the user of the product via vivid depictions, as if they – with their different attitudes, desires and habits – were already using the product. In doing so they can more clearly formulate how to turn the product's potential into reality.

With contributions from professionals from Australia, Brazil, Finland, Japan, Russia, and the UK presenting real-world examples of persona method, this book will provide readers with valuable insights into this exciting research area. The inspiration to create user descriptions includes character-driven narratives, and the film Thelma & Louise is analyzed in order to understand how the development process can also be an engaging story in various professional contexts.

With a solid foundation in her own research at the IT University of Copenhagen and more than five years of experience in solving problems for businesses, Lene Nielsen is Denmark’s leading expert in the persona method. She has a PhD in personas and scenarios, and through her research and practical experiences she has developed her own approach to the method – 10 Steps to Personas. Personas – User Focused Design presents a step-by-step methodology of personas which will be of interest to developers of IT, communications solutions and innovative products.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Introduction: Stories About Users

In 1997, when I for the first time was going to work with ‘multimedia’, as it was called back then, it quickly dawned on me that I had to become more informed about who the users were. The task was to develop a small piece of software to help an unemployed person clarify what kind of work he or she wanted to do. I had spent a day with a lot of jobseekers and interviewed some of them. In order best to share my understanding of the job-seeking users with the project team that I worked with, I wrote a little story about 30-year-old Bente who falls pregnant while an apprentice in a shop and as a consequence abandon her apprenticeship. Later on, Bente gets jobs at various industrial companies, mostly temporary jobs and seasonal work. She feels secure in working with routine tasks so that she does not have to put too much thought into things but can concentrate on the work and let her mind wander. The last place she worked suddenly closed down and since then her job opportunities have been limited. Bente would like to get started on an education but is afraid that this is incompatible with a husband and raising a family. She would like to do something in commerce or something to do with people.
Lene Nielsen

1: A Slice of the World

The starting point when working with personas is knowledge about the users. Step 1: Collection of data is about how you obtain data about the users, what data is, and how you treat the data. When you are designing surveys, these are questions that you have to deal with as well as having to consider whether the data material is of a sufficient quality to deduct assumptions on, in what ways the users differ and what it is that makes them different.
Lene Nielsen

2: The First Connections

One of the most important criteria for well-founded personas is that the material is sound. When step 1 is concluded and the relevant data collected, we need to work out what differentiates the users so that we can find both the number of personas and what constitutes their differences. Hopefully we will end up with descriptions like Karina, Jesper, Dorte, and Michael where the reader has no doubt that they are different people with different living conditions and background. Step 2: You form a hypothesis describes how you can analyse the data and then formulate a hypothesis concerning what differentiates the users from each other within the focus area.
Lene Nielsen

3: Food for Thought

Step 3: Everyone accept the hypothesis is about whether you can confirm that the analysis is true and how you can use this next step to get as many as possible to feel ownership. The scientific designation of the process to get the analysis accepted is verification. Verification means confirmation, and in this case, it is about both asking the questions whether the data are good enough and whether they are adequate for the process ahead. In this chapter, I will go through partly what it means to have your data and your analysis confirmed and partly how you can include others in this work.
Lene Nielsen

4: The Final Number

The analysis has now been concluded, and a picture emerges of how many personas the project should have. But the final number has yet to be decided. Step 4: A number is established includes strategic decisions about who belongs to the user group. This also contains decision about what areas are that are to describe the various personas. As this step entails certain strategic implications, it may be important also to include the decision-makers in determining the final number. One of the questions often put to me is: ‘How many personas must we have in order to be covered?’ But as one of my partners said, ‘It should be more expensive to prepare a few personas than many’. The reason that it should be more expensive to prepare only a few personas is that the purpose of personas is to reduce data to usable sizes that are both representative and workable. This includes a number of personas that you can actually remember. At this point in the process, it is also determined whether the project has secondary personas. They may be secondary because they have no direct relationship with the product but still should be kept in mind or because they have to be included due to political reasons even though they most likely will not use the product. Let me give you four examples that each in their own way describes the process with determining the final number of personas.
Lene Nielsen

5: Do You Know Karina?

When I began working with personas and read the first descriptions, I was surprised at the way the writers described other people. It was obvious that not much thought had gone into how the reader would perceive the person or what understanding the reader should get of the person. In some descriptions I had, as reader, the feeling that more effort had gone into the fact that the IT system was to be used by a person but none into who the user was as a person. At the same time, the user’s motivation for using the IT system was not very probable but something that the writer made up because there needed to be a reason. Harry is such an example:
Lene Nielsen

6: Exposition to Action

When developing a user-focused design, the simplest structure for the story about user and interactions is a movement from a beginning, through a middle, to an end (Cobley 2001). Step 6: Situations should provide knowledge about the starting point of the actions where the needs of the users using the product are included but also the situations in which they will use it. A situation is, for example, that a website selling children’s clothes offers the user the option of online payment. Any requirement for a situation will result in a number of interactions and actions, including the users’ choice of payment card, entering card number, etc.
Lene Nielsen

7: The Reality of Everyone?

Persona descriptions and situations have now been prepared, and the next step, Step 7: Validation and acceptance from the organisation, is about how approval of the data, personas, and situations can happen in cooperation with the project organisation.
Lene Nielsen

8: Get the Message Across!

Before personas and situations really can be used to create something new, they have to be distributed to all who may use them, also to management and marketing, even if they were not associated with the project as such. Likewise, it is a good idea to think of how external partners and future employees will get access to the descriptions. Step 8: You disseminate knowledge should lead to answers regarding how the descriptions can be created in the most accessible way and who are actually their target groups. In order to target the knowledge dissemination in the best way possible to the various recipient groups, it is important to prepare a communication plan as early in the project process as possible. It should also include thoughts on how the project participants will gain access to the underlying data. The plan can contain information about who is going to use the descriptions, what they will use them for, and what formats best support the various applications, including whether there should be various formats for different applications.
Lene Nielsen

9: Stories About the Future

How does something new look? The persona process is now at a point where you can begin to envision a future product. This is done by stories of how a user or customer might use a product. These stories are called scenarios and are the focal point of the entire persona method. It is in this step you imagine things that do not as of yet exist, and it is during this part of the process that you experience the strength of the method. Step 9: Scenarios are the central stage of idea development.
Lene Nielsen

10: It Does Not End Here

The persona project is well underway; the descriptions are used for idea development to create new products, to support dialogue, to recruit users for test of product drafts, and to communicate with the users. But how long will the method be able to maintain focus? What happens if we get new knowledge about the users? And when is it time to get the information updated? I will examine these questions in more detail in Step 10: Ongoing adjustments are made.
Lene Nielsen

Personas in a More User-Focused World

International studies have shown that there are a number of areas that affect the success of the method (Browne 2011). Some companies do not want to use the method because they think that their segmentation tools can achieve the same result. In other companies, the data that creates the foundation of the persona descriptions is inadequate for any sensible use. Furthermore, the quality of the descriptions may be poorly executed so that the personas are seen as unreliable. Finally, some companies dive into developing personas without having thought about what they are to achieve. But what is the status of using the method in the world?
Lene Nielsen

Backmatter

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