Yahoo’s Approach to Keeping Personas Alive

Jared Spool

May 18th, 2006

One of the big struggles teams have is creating a long-term adoption of their target personas. While personas are often accepted initially, it’s hard for the team to keep them “alive” for the entire project duration. Our research has shown those teams which manage to keep them alive are more likely to produce more usable designs, so we’re always interested in new techniques.

That’s why I perked up at the recent CHI Conference in Montreal when Yahoo!’s Aviva Rosenstein, Manager of Design Research for the Yahoo Media Group, shared her thoughts on getting development teams to adopt personas into their process.

Aviva talked about a recent project, where she had a laminated 3-fold card made up to describe the key attributes of the six personas the team was using.

Click here to see a larger rendition of the Yahoo 3-fold Persona card.
Click here to see a larger rendition of the Yahoo 3-fold Persona card. (Details are obscured to protect proprietary info.)

Aviva described a “party” she threw, where she invited all of the team members to introduce them to the personas. Instead of a regular presentation, she gave each team member the 3-fold card and placed a sticker on their back containing the name of one of the persona identities. The team then played a game of having to guess their new identity by asking yes-or-no questions to other team members. The idea was to find someone else in the room with the same identity as they had.

Aviva said it was a real treat to watch all the team members as they studied their laminated cheat-sheets and asked each other pertinent questions.

The result? Aviva said she was pleased to find the team continuing to use the personas. It was not uncommon to see them bring their laminated cards to meetings and refer to them throughout the process.

A scene from a Yahoo! Team Meeting.
A scene from a Yahoo! team meeting. Note the persona on the whiteboard and the 3-fold cards on the table.

What have you done to keep personas alive with your development teams?

9 Responses to “Yahoo’s Approach to Keeping Personas Alive”

  1. Zephyr Says:

    Great article. Couldn’t help but notice though that all the personas seem very … cool. Sort of twentysomething designer type-ish ;-) But I guess if that’s their audience…

  2. Aviva Rosenstein Says:

    Zephyr: note that there were six personas in the full set and the image only shows three of them :-)

    glad you enjoyed it, Jared!

  3. Weblogger.ch » Blog Archive » Personas: profils des utilisateurs type Says:

    [...] Je suis retomb

  4. Study Participant Playing Cards » UIE Brain Sparks Says:

    [...] (Over at Yahoo!, they use something similar for the personas they create.) [...]

  5. ojas Says:

    good work!

  6. Leyton Jay Says:

    Another great tip Jared, thanks again!

  7. blogring.org Says:

    Blogring pour rosenstein…

    Relatif entrées de blogue…

  8. Personas : mon retour d’experience … - Qualitystreet Says:

    [...] non … la prochaine fois, c’est promis, je sortirai de mon chapeau des cubes ou des cartes à la yahoo [...]

  9. Personas in UCD – Just a Pretty Face? « the UX Factor Says:

    [...] Keeping Personas alive in Yahoo from Jared Spool’s blog. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. Posted by abireynolds Filed in Methods, Research, UX Tags: Personas, UCD, UX Leave a Comment » [...]

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