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Persona Development for a Complex Set of Products

Learn to manage personas for a wide range of users

Personas that are grounded in user research are powerful forms of communication. Experienced practitioners will learn skills for introducing and managing personas. Participants will learn how multiple personas can inform one another and potentially form persona families. The tutorial will also explore issues around having multiple personas within a large company or organization.

Half Day Tutorial by Richard Douglass (Nationwide), Carol Smith (Midwest Research, LLC)
6:00pm to 9:00pm on Tuesday, June 21, 2011

About the Half Day Tutorial

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF TUTORIAL Tutorial: Persona Development for a Complex Set of Products

What are Personas? Well-crafted personas are based on research conducted through contextual inquiry and related methods. The persona models and describes the users: - Goals - Needs - Characteristics

The persona is an Archetype that represents a user group (audience segment). Personas smooth “out the idiosyncrasies of real individual people while retaining the patterns of needs and behaviors in the target market. At the same time, a persona retains enough human detail to feel like a real person.” www.cooper.com/journal/personas/

Personas are not: - Real individuals - Fictional individuals - Average users - “Frankenstein” (characteristics of individuals are not sewn together) - Developed via brainstorming sessions

Introducing Personas to the Organization Part of a successful persona program is communicating to the team who the personas are and how to effectively use them.

To best approach this problem, create a communication plan that details when, how and to whom each piece of information will be shared. Each activity should be assigned to a specific individual to complete.

Some approaches include: - A series of meetings and presentations that may include only a small group at first or the entire organization. - Website for personas with links to additional information, or details about the individuals. This is especially nice for companies making websites and makes it easy to edit the personas. - Posters in high traffic areas and break rooms. - Handouts for desks (post cards, printed paper, etc.) - Emails giving highlights about the personas and tips on their use. - Events to introduce the personas to the team/organization (e.g. birthday party).

The artifacts should be progressively disclosed and help to tell the story about the personas and how they use the product(s).

All team members should be met with in-person to introduce the personas and each should be introduced individually.

Instead of “I made John with...”. Say “John has...”

During the introduction activity answer questions and clarify how the personas are to be used. Give attendees handouts or other artifacts that will help them to use and remember the personas.

Exercise: Effective Persona Introduction at Company X - Form small group (three to four) - Select a recorder and reporter - Review personas available and information about Company X (facilitator provided) - Work as a team to determine what the most effective way to introduce these personas would be given the company culture - Report out to the entire group Managing Multiple personas Personas and profiles need to be updated regularly as new information is gathered because: - Behaviors may change - Priorities and goals may change - Primary user-group may change - Product may change

Plan for updates and their dissemination with an updated Communication Plan. With ongoing projects, add reviews to the planning schedule template. Activities like a usability study should trigger a review of the personas.

When kept up-to-date personas and profiles can be used indefinitely for the same product

Personas should not be re-purposed for disparate products and different needs. The user’s needs, goals and other dimensions will vary and there should be clear differences between personas. Personas should also have different resulting scenarios.

Challenges: - Personas, by their very nature, are only truly meaningful in a given context. - Effort needs to be made to seek out elements of comparison: motivators, demographics, technology use. - Conducting analysis to potentially form “Persona Families” may inform new persona development efforts by providing a preliminary context.

Extending Personas Organizations and Companies that have a complex set of products and/or require multiple personas will need to group those personas in meaningful ways.

For example an organization that makes warehouse managing software may have the following set of personas: Jim in Receiving – knows what’s coming and when. Theresa, Stocker – Routes products to the right location and keeps track of inventory. Jose, Picks and Packs - Finds the proper product and packs to fulfill orders. Shirley, Shipping - Gets the products to the correct destination at the desired time.

One person to represent all of Receiving (or any of these positions) would be unlikely. It is more likely that there would be a small set for each of these types of roles, and a few more perhaps for managers, trainers, etc.

These personas would all interact at various times when using the software (in person or by virtual “handshakes”). Being able to convey this information to the team making the product is extremely helpful.

In order to adequately determine what those groupings or mappings are they may need to be further analyzed. This can be done by: - Breaking personas into key elements (use tasks or user stories to support this effort) - Looking for trends via different lenses (e.g. product, sales/service, line of business, etc.) - Documenting where there are overlaps, relationships, etc.

The result of this effort should be: - Knowledge of relationships between personas - Frequency of their interactions - What they need from each other - What they provide to each other

Once that information is documented (visual work flows are ideal), the relationships should be prioritization so that the team understands which interactions are most important to the users and the products functionality.

There will still be more to learn so the next steps would be to: - Identify gaps and plan to fill them - Sync with market segments (if they exist)

Exercise: Relate prsonas for Company X - Re-group w/ your previous group (earlier exercise) - Select a recorder and reporter - Review existing personas (facilitator provided) - Make a plan for relating the personas and how scenarios might work with more than one persona - Report out to the entire group Q&A/Wrap up Answer any outstanding questions and review what was covered.