December 26th, 2006
Over at the IxDA Discussion list, there’s been a interesting discussion about whether or not Personas are a good idea.
I think they are extremely useful, but not for all people in all situations. In specific, I’ve found personas to be very important under the following conditions:
- The design team is an actual team, with more than a single individual working the entire process from ideation through implementation (and beyond).
- The team members are different from their users (which is most of the time).
- The team members do not have constant interaction directly with the users, particularly getting feedback on how the relevant artifacts are used.
- Different users will interact with the artifacts differently because they have different intentions, context, knowledge, skills, or experience.
The well-executed persona description helps the team work “on the same page,” when it comes to understanding who their users are. It can eliminate the confusion and wasted efforts that come when team members are walking around with different ideas of who their users are. (See Yahoo’s Approach to Keeping Personas Alive.)
The well-executed persona description enables successful role-playing and story-telling for intra-team communication and for inter-group understanding of the design goals and objective. (See Three Important Benefits of Personas.)
The well-executed persona description helps the team members fit the design solution against the attributes which make one persona different from another, to ensure they’ve not excluded activities or impaired actions because they were ignorant (or forgot) about a subtlety of use. (See 5 Things to Know About Users.)
I see a major role for personas to be dissemination of information about users to others in the organization. When well executed, the entire organization understand who the design is for and the subsequent design rationales.Tweet