Personas and Design

Case Study & Paper

May 8, 2012 @ 11:30, Room: 16AB

Chair: Shaowen Bardzell, Indiana University, USA
Personas and Decision Making in the Design Process: An Ethnographic Case Study - Paper
Community: design
Contribution & Benefit: An ethnographic case study that investigates the ways personas are invoked in design decision-making sessions. The relative value of personas considering their limited use in active decision-making is explored.
Abstract » Personas have become a well-lauded method to aid designers in keeping the needs of the intended user population at the forefront of the design process. However, few studies have ethnographically observed design teams that use personas, and fewer studies have looked specifically at how designers linguistically invoke personas in their decision-making sessions. This discourse analysis of the decision-making sessions of designers at a top tier design firm reveals that although the designers dedicate much time researching, developing, and refining personas, personas themselves make relatively few appearances in the designers� language during decision-making sessions. This study shows that, for persuasive ends, these designers, who are advocates of personas, routinely use other less precise and more designer-centric linguistic mechanisms in lieu of personas. Despite the scarcity of personas in the decision-making sessions, this ethnographic case study also explores the value of personas for this team even when the personas are not explicitly linguistically invoked.
How Do Designers and User Experience Professionals Actually Perceive and Use Personas? - Paper
Contribution & Benefit: Qualitative study of how experienced user-centered design practitioners perceive and use personas for industrial software design. This paper can benefit practitioners who would like to use personas for design.
Abstract » Personas are a critical method for orienting design and development teams to user experience. Prior work has noted challenges in justifying them to developers. In contrast, it has been assumed that designers and user experience professionals--whose goal is to focus designs on targeted users--will readily exploit personas. This paper examines that assumption. We present the first study of how experienced user-centered design (UCD) practitioners with prior experience deploying personas, use and perceive personas in industrial software design. We identify limits to the persona approach in the context studied. Practitioners used personas almost exclusively for communication, but not for design. Participants identified four problems with personas, finding them abstract, impersonal, misleading and distracting. Our findings argue for a new approach to persona deployment and construction. Personas cannot replace immersion in actual user data. And rather than focusing on creating engaging personas, it is critical to avoid persona attributes that mislead or distract.
Revisiting Personas: The Making-of for Special User Groups - Long Case Study
Community: design
Contribution & Benefit: Describes a decision diagram for the creation of personas and its application. It aims at identifying the most appropriate approach taking into account different characteristics.
Abstract » The diversity of special user groups, i.e. elderly from 50 to 90 years and children from 6 to 14 years, is huge. Assessing their requirements is challenging, as it requires sensitivity in terms of choosing an appropriate approach to collect data. Furthermore, the illustration of the data for the subsequent design process can be difficult, if different partners are involved in a project. In order to overcome these difficulties, we are exploring a decision diagram for the creation of personas. It aims at identifying the most appropriate approach (i.e. qualitative and/or quantitative data collection), taking into account the characteristics of the special user groups among other aspects. In this case study we present how we applied the decision diagram in three different projects to create personas for elderly and children.
Incorporating UCD Into the Software Development Lifecycle: a Case Study - Long Case Study
Community: user experience
Contribution & Benefit: Case study describing the application of user centered design (UCD) for a project using multiple enterprise technologies. Identifies opportunities for successfully integrating UCD into the software development process.
Abstract » This case study addresses how we applied user centered design (UCD) to the software development lifecycle for the new City of Austin Utilities Online Customer Care website. The case study focuses on the use of personas, prototypes, and user testing, discusses what worked well, and provides lessons learned.