Personas in a cultural world

Articleed | | Personas (UK).

Research points to, that cultural cultural different readers fill the narrative gaps that occur in every text differently. Having this in mind, it becomes interesting to see how different readers interpret a persona description, as differences in interpretation might have impact on cross-cultural projects. 

In the following I will report from two studies of how people from different cultures perceive a persona description. The first study is reported here at pp. 43-46 and involved six participants from India, China and Denmark, most were young and students. This study was followed by a second study with eight participants from Japan, Brazil, France, Holland, Russia, New Zealand, Germany and USA. All were familiar with the persona method and all were usability professionals.

The persona portrayed a person working with marketing. The description was written in such a way that there were no cues in the text of age, gender and culture.
In both studies the participants were asked to: 1) read a persona description. 2) find a photo on the internet that resembled the persona. 3) write a short comment on why they had chosen this particular photo. 4) mail both photo and comment to me.

The two studies showed interesting differences.

kvinde.JPG                    mand.JPG Continue reading

Influencers or Satellites – the persona is never alone

Articleed | | Personas (UK).

Personas are never alone in the world. They are surrounded by people who influence their decisions and jobs. I call these influencers for “satellites” as they float around the persona – it can be a parent who buys a mobile phone for a child, a teacher who decides to use an IT system in class, or a system manager who is responsible for a system is installed. The satellites should be described and play a role in the scenarios. The descriptions should not be as thorough as the personas descriptions and the satellites do not necessarily have a name, but they are important because of the function they possess – often as either helper or antagonist. 

In the redesign of, a website where companies report digitally to governmental bodies, we found a number of people who influenced the work of the ones doing the actual reporting, especially when it came to acquisition of a digital signature. We identified three satellites: the boss, the IT systems manager, and the person receiving the digital report. The three satellites where described in a brief form that lacked personal details, they had a name and a photo. The three satellites had very different influence on the four personas identified in the project.

Culture and Personas Perception

Articleed | | Personas (UK).

This experiment originates from a comment posted on the forum connected to Journal of the HCI Vistas. Here Dinesh Katre wrote; ‘I have always found it difficult to visualize or understand the characters illustrated in the books of P. G. Woodhouse because all are British personalities and I have not lived in Briton so long to understand these personalities as they are quite culture specific.’ (29-01-08). This made me wonder how personas descriptions are perceived and whether culture influences the perception.

Read the article here.

Personas – as part of a user-centered innovation process

Articleed | | Personas (UK).

This article was first published at HCI Vistas

I recently hosted a personas workshop aimed at innovation within dairy products. It was with some nervousness I went into a process that is quite far from IT, web design, mobile software, and the familiar boundaries of technology. Interestingly the personas method seems to function in other settings as well and – more interestingly with methods from a more traditional field of innovation.

The aim of the workshop was to innovate on products or invent completely new products. The participants were a mixed crowd: engineers, anthropologists, a product designer, a chef, concept developers, and project managers. Continue reading

Personas – Communication or Process?

Articleed | | Personas (UK).


Personas is viewed as a method for communicating user data to all members of the design team and customers, but maybe it should rather be viewed as a process method that ensures a user centered design process.
Personas are fictitious descriptions of users based on field data. Personas encourage a user-centered design process. When design solutions are discussed the persona is inserted into various scenarios that form the point of departure for design decisions. The design of the personas method varies. Cooper, with the introduction of the goal-directed method, emphasizes detailed user descriptions (precision), while Pruitt and Grudin[12] focus on accuracy through relations to field data. The precise persona approach sees the advantages of the method as its ability to focus design and its ability to end discussions in its capacity of being a communication tool, [1], [2], [3]. The accurate approach [4], [11], [10] focuses on a strict relationship between data and what is communicated in the personas description. Focus areas in the descriptions are: computer skills, market size and influence, activities a typical day or week in the user’s life, the persona’s fears and aspirations. Added are strategic and tactical reflections. Both view the method as a communication tool for data. Continue reading