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Making personas work

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Making personas work

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Lots of project teams have tried out personas. Not all succeed.

In this session, I’ll outline a range of projects (both system and website development) over the past 5 years in which I’ve used personas to bring consensus and user focus to the team delivering. I’ll run through some challenges I’ve faced, and the techniques I’ve tried to overcome them.

Lots of project teams have tried out personas. Not all succeed.

In this session, I’ll outline a range of projects (both system and website development) over the past 5 years in which I’ve used personas to bring consensus and user focus to the team delivering. I’ll run through some challenges I’ve faced, and the techniques I’ve tried to overcome them.

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Making personas work

  1. 1. Putting personas to work How to ensure they live beyond the initial enthusiasm and interest Bruce Darby University Website Programme University of Edinburgh, July 2014
  2. 2. Overview 1. What’s a persona? 2. Bringing personas to life: Activities, tips, experiences 3. Why persona projects fail Questions?
  3. 3. 1. What’s a persona? • Personas are essentially made-up people – Reflecting key traits and attitudes • They help personalise a large, diverse group • They’re typically based on: – Data generated by user research – Knowledge of a customer base or user group
  4. 4. Personas bring focus The User Is Always Right by Steve Mulder
  5. 5. Personas build empathy
  6. 6. Personas encourage consensus
  7. 7. Personas bring efficiencies
  8. 8. Summary: why use personas? • Better shared understanding of users’ behaviour, attitudes and needs • Better communication across development & support teams – “What would Olive use this feature for?” – “Would Terry understand this guidance?” • Building a shared vision of who we’re working for and why
  9. 9. Our experience • 2008 – Prospective student & parent investigation with SRA & International Office • 2009 – First version of Polopoly user personas • 2010 – Prospective PG online UX project • 2011 – PG project phase 2 with schools • 2013 – CMS user personas for Drupal project • 2013/4 – New arrival UG and prospective visiting students for Student Experience Project
  10. 10. Olive the occasional user • Wants to avoid web publishing tasks where possible. • No engagement with support and community; doesn’t see herself as a web-publisher. Feels the only help is her colleagues. • Reactive – only edits when unavoidable. • Little or no confidence in web publishing. • Just wants to dump content into CMS as initially drafted. Technical Time for publishing Frequent user of CMS Non-technical No time for publishing Infrequent user of CMS “It all seemed quite straightforward at the training session…”  Basic edits to existing content  Adding new pages with basic elements to existing structures TYPICALTASKS  Every time she needs to perform a task in the CMS, it feels like learning how to do it from scratch PAIN POINTS  More colleagues publishing webpages, so more people to ask for help (or to pass the work on to!) BENEFIT OFCMS If at all!
  11. 11. Ed the everyday editor • Wants to complete publishing tasks as quickly and easily as possible • May engage with community events if prompted. Uses support wiki but prefers email or phone. • Mainly reactive – directed by others. • Confident with day-to-day web publishing activities. • CMS structure is good because it makes it harder to break things. Technical Time for publishing Frequent user of CMS Non-technical No time for publishing Infrequent user of CMS  Creates and edits web-pages  Simple reorganisation of subsections  Takes on new features when prompted, but needs support to implement TYPICALTASKS  Needs basic editorial tasks to be quick and hassle-free  Needs to consult support wiki for tasks he doesn’t do frequently PAIN POINTS  Likes having a support service available; gives him more confidence in web publishing.  Feels his web pages look professional. BENEFIT OFCMS “I just want to get the job done quickly”
  12. 12. Coleen the comms specialist • Wants to help her unit meet their goals by providing a professional and efficient suite of communication channels, which includes the website • Engages with web publishing community. Tries out new features independently • Proactive – Web is part of communications and improving it will support business. • Confidence in range of relevant CMS functionality. • Wants CMS to deliver more flexible webpage layouts Technical Time for publishing Frequent user of CMS Non-technical No time for publishing Infrequent user of CMS “The website needs to keep pace with the business & its users”  Directly manages high profile content  Manages site focus and structure  Dictates who edits & publishes TYPICAL TASKS  Pace of improvements to the system are slow  Wants CMS to keep pace with trends in web comms and user behaviour PAIN POINTS  Can do more advanced web publishing without technical input.  Training and support means she’s more confident about the quality of her team’s work  Can share and use others’ content BENEFIT OFCMS
  13. 13. Terry the tech specialist • Wants to try new things, innovate, collaborate. • Engages with the Technical Peer Group and Web Publishers Community when there are topics of interest. • Mainly proactive. Keeps abreast of technical trends and internal issues. • Confident in range of web technology. • Wants to modify the CMS to meet needs of his unit & to experiment. Technical Time for publishing Frequent user of CMS Non-technical No time for publishing Infrequent user of CMS “Central services hold back innovation & improve too slowly”  One-off projects covering all areas of web-development and integration  Emergency publishing  Fixing others’ problems TYPICALTASKS  Feels restricted by corporate CMS  Wants to be able to customise locally  Wants more direct access to CMS PAIN POINTS  Gets to spend less time doing basic web- publishing tasks BENEFIT OFCMS
  14. 14. 2. Bringing personas to life Familiarisation exercises, Research, Reporting, Planning & prioritising
  15. 15. Stakeholder buy-in • Get stakeholders involved in creation • Limit the number of personas • Make them distinct and memorable • Allow time for familiarisation
  16. 16. Familiarisation exercises • A way to think about and discuss the personas
  17. 17. How do we know we’re doing it properly? When you find yourself saying: – “I doubt Ed would ever want to do that” And no one asks: – “Who’s Ed?” We’re probably getting there 
  18. 18. Behavioural matrices Low tech High tech InfrequentCMSuseFrequentCMSuse No CMS community engagement High community engagement ReactivecontentmgtProactivecontentmgt • Map the four personas to each matrix • Compare locations with the group – Any significant differences of opinion?
  19. 19. Which persona are you? • Spend a moment to reflect… • Individual users are (almost) always represented by multiple personas – What percentage of each are you? – What aspects do you most associate with?
  20. 20. New CMS service goals • B - Facilitate online business for all areas of the University • R - Be robust, resilient and scalable • I - Support flexible and innovative web development • D - A quality website user experience across multiple devices • G - Be governed and managed by a central service with inclusive, transparent processes • E - Quick and easy for all levels of CMS user • S - Support the generation of standards- and legislation- compliant websites Which goal is most important to each persona?
  21. 21. Amazon reviews • Choose one persona • Write a review for – A content management system you use Wheelmate Laptop Steering Wheel Desk by Go Office Product & reviews: bit.ly/amazon-wheelmate
  22. 22. User testing • Recruit participants to play role of personas • Use persona to steer real user recruitment
  23. 23. Competitor analysis • Compare competitor provision with the objective yardstick of a persona
  24. 24. Expressing your findings • Map out persona experiences • Immediate and succinct way to report research findings cxpartners.com uxmatters.com
  25. 25. Scorecards for ongoing monitoring Sample scorecard from ‘Stop Redesigning And Start Tuning Your Site Instead’ by Lou Rosenfeld http://bit.ly/Hwjdoc Objectively and regularly measure
  26. 26. Tell a story • Easy to do with senior stakeholders • Easy to collaborate on • Storytelling is an ancient and universal activity
  27. 27. Persona-weighted feature prioritisation Form functionality for a new Content Management System Ed – everyday editor Coleen – comms specialist Persona 3 … Data emailed Database Accessibility Multi-page Step 1: Score the feature: • 2 – Persona will love this • 1 – Sure, it’s fine. Expected • 0 – Doesn’t affect the persona • -1 – Persona will hate this Step 2: Editorial discussion: • What do we need to do to the feature to meet persona expectations? • Is this feature adding value? • Can be used for functionality, services and content • For existing stuff & potential new developments • Weight personas if some are more important than others
  28. 28. The CMS… Expressing different requirements  …provides functionality to create accessible web forms to collect data from visitors  …can email collected form data  …or stores & allows viewing of visitor entered data securely & in accordance with data protection legislation I want data to be collected and viewed easily so that our processes can be improved. I don’t want my site compromised. I want enough functionality to enable me to create forms for a variety of uses without the need for technical help. I don’t want to have to deal with spam data. Coleen Ed TerryI want data to be stored centrally so that I don’t need to build and maintain external systems. This is important to me because…Olive
  29. 29. • We believe that – Creating this content • For – This persona • Will achieve – This outcome • We will know when we are successful – When we see... Challenge new development ideas
  30. 30. 3. So why do personas fail? • Stakeholders don’t understand • Personas don’t feel real • Personas get avoided or forgotten
  31. 31. “Essence of a Successful Persona Project” Jared Spool found the most important aspects were: – Internalizing the personas – Creating rich scenarios – Prioritizing the most important personas – Involving all the stakeholders and influencers bit.ly/uie-successful-personas
  32. 32. The final resting place of many personas Flickr creative commons credits: Pindec Vegansoldier
  33. 33. Our personas LIVE!
  34. 34. Want to learn more? • Five factors for successful persona projects – Jared Spool on UIE.com – http://www.uie.com/articles/successful_persona_ projects • Designing with scenarios: Putting personas to work – Kim Goodwin – http://www.uie.com/brainsparks/2011/06/24/kim -goodwin-designing-with-scenarios-putting- personas-to-work/
  35. 35. Thank you Questions?

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