Persona and Scenario Practitioner Inquiry

Articleed | | Personas (UK).

Nick Trendov wrote:
as a story teller I appreciate your persona descriptions highly.
I have used stories, personas and scenarios for over 15 years in business and will teach an advanced Analytics and Scenario Analysis for Competitive Advantage at the University of Toronto in early 2008.

My contribution to the topic is the ability to link stories and numbers via personas with this simple mantra–

Tell a story twice and a process is documented, three times and software is written, four times and brand value is created, five times and a measure or KPI is built.

Any suggestions to persona or scenario links would be appreciated, especially any work that may be related to the ability to deliver knowledge or training in a highly accelerated manner.

My goal for the class is to use my persona and scenario experience to deliver knowledge and tools to the class on the same topic very, very quickly.

Good luck with your work!


Your approach is very interesting. I have recently started to cooperate with Zentropa Interactive, a branch of the Danish Film company Zentropa, to add more expertise on storytelling to my personas courses. A year ago I did a survey on personas and scenario articles on the net. More have come since then, but you can find the list of articles here.

I am not sure you will find what you are looking for as most articles are from a IT perspective. The one who has written most extensively about scenarios in IT is John Carroll, maybe you will find some of his works useful. He does not have the personas perspective though.

How can Personas be useful for developers??

Articleed | | Personas (UK).

Christina Braz asks:

I have just finished to read your article about personas on the Web. Although I agree with your statements I still have a question in my mind: How do Personas can be useful for developers?? You provide personas in order to developers start to develop an application. I am in the process of developing personas for a new security application and I have heard from someone else a quotation from one of our developers: “I don’t care about personas at all. I simply don’t use it.”

Christina Braz | Senior Software Engineer, UXD Team |

Answer: Most developers are not involved in the decision about using the personas and do not know how to use them. To put personas posters on the wall or quotes on mugs are just not enough.

In my experience what do help is to let the developers experience the strength of method when a persona description is put in action in a scenario. I do scenario workshops with the developers. In the workshop they learn to use the personas and they experience how thinking about personas gives them new insights for system demands and requirement specifications. Finally we talk about how they can move from the scenario descriptions to e.g. use cases or how they can use personas in their use cases.
So the short answer is Training and experiencing clear the way.

10 Steps to Personas

Articleed | | Personas (DK), Personas (UK), Resources.

Having worked with personas before the method ever came to be known as personas there are, from my research and practical experience, three important areas that have to be considered: the data material, engagement in the personas descriptions, and buy-in from the organization which is part of the development process whether it is redesign or a development from scratch. This is the rationale behind my development of 10 steps to personas, an attempt to cover the entire process from initial data gathering to ongoing development.

In the following I will briefly outline the 10 steps. Any project that uses personas does not necessarily need to follow all 10 steps as long as the responsible party knows the consequences of skipping a step.

Step 1: Finding the Users
The initial step is to get hold of as much knowledge of the users as possible. The data can originate from several sources: interviews, observations, second hand information, questionnaires, reports, cultural probes etc.

In my experience large companies have often a lot of information about the users, reports from marketing, call centers etc. these can in some extend substitute real life meetings with users, but they also create problems as they do not focus on the subject that the project is about. This might become visible in the next step.

Step 2: Building a Hypothesis
Working with the personas method is to focus on users in a certain context which originates from the project. Often companies have a certain way of talking about their users that does not take into consideration the different context the users might be in when using a website or a system.

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Building a Hypothesis

Articleed | | Personas (UK).

“Think of segmentation as the art of finding patterns and stories in the data.”
The User Is Always Right (2007)
, Steve Mulder and Ziv Yaar

Som tidligere nævnt er et af de væsentligste kriterier for godt underbyggede personas at data materialet er i orden, men det sværeste er at finde ud af hvor mange personas man skal have og hvordan man se dette ud fra data. OvenstÃ¥ende citat angiver lidt af arbejdet med at finde en klynge eller et segment pÃ¥ baggrund af data – det involverer en form for kunst.

Læser man Kim Goodwin fra så anbefaler hun at man opstiller et modsætningspar på en skala som man så kan sige hvor mange brugerne der befinder sig hvor på den givne skala. Dette gentages for en lang række parametre og når man er færdig står man med et billede af brugerne. Denne metode forudsætter naturligvis at man kan opstille modsætningspar for sine brugere, hvilket ikke altid giver mening. Hvad man skal gøre afhænger naturligvis også hvilke metoder man bruger, men en god måde at få mening i data er affinitetsdiagrammer: Man skriver stikord på post-it og grupperer disse. Pludselig står man med en række sammenhænge, der kan udtrykke forskellighederne. Ud fra forskellighederne kan man nu danne en hypotese om hvordan forskellighederne kan udtrykkes i pers
Da jeg i forbindelse med min ph.d. arbejdede med astmatikere og deres pårørende fandt vi ud af at der var 4 forskellige grupper: de der kontrollerede deres sygdom, de der negligerede deres sygdom. Mødre der kontrollerede deres børns sygdom og mødre der var emotionelt berørte af at deres børn var syge. Astmatikerne var udtryk for et modsætningspar, mens mødrene ikke var det. I et for nyligt overstået projekt fandt vi 3 forskellige kategorier for folk der bruger trafikinformationer og deres forskelligheder ville have været svære at rubricere i modsætningspar.

S̴ p̴ mange m̴der har Mulder og Yaar ret Рdet er en kunst.

The Pragmatic Persona

Articleed | | Personas (UK).

Personas can be used in more than one way. Sometimes the writing of a persona description helps frame the discussion about who the users actually are. In this instance there might not be a lot of data behind the persona description, but the discussions about the descriptions can initiate that further data needs to be recorded. Sometimes there is no need to gather further data.

I will in the following report from a case where the goal was to do rapid prototypes and test these with users. We did not have any data except an initial description of the users described by the customers. In these descriptions the focus was on age and use of technology.

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