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Better User Experience With Storytelling – Part One

A good read on how storytelling can unite the different aspects of the user experience such as brining different perspectives together, defining the goal or defining the user (personas). However, there is another benefit that the article briefly touches upon and that is defining the journey (scenarios). It’s one thing to define a user, but a whole different perspective when you chart out the journey of this user accomplishing goals and tasks.

Experience toolkit: The power of persona

I'm enjoying this blog by Leigh Duncan who is into marketing and experience management. Her recent posts are on how personas are being used in companies like Best Buy and Starbucks. Nice insights into the mind of the market using personas.

Bring Your Personas to Life!

A brief article on how to stage the personas you create using a technique called 'method acting' -- something that actors do when preparing for challenging roles (eg. DeNiro spending months on the streets observing taxi drivers to prepare for his role in the movie 'Taxi Driver').

Customer Storytelling at the Heart of Business Success

A report by Arc Worldwide’s Experience Planning group:

"The decisions that customer personas and scenarios inform may include new product and service pursuits, details of product and service strategy, marketing strategies, customer relationship management frameworks, media placement and more. Personas and scenarios tell honest stories that are sculpted from diverse and comprehensive sets of data. These stories place the customer and their wants, needs, emotions, and behaviors at the center of a roadmap that charts current and future businesses success..."

This report discusses how the Arc Worldwide’s Experience Planning group uses storytelling and multidimensional customer-based stories to provide relevance, direction, and resonance in today’s business planning landscape.

Quality Personas

This article (PDF) describes an extended use of a persona -- user behavior:

"The best personas will also go the extra step to describe key behaviors such as a decision making process, an information browsing approach, or a shopping mode—the drivers that affect how people approach a given solution."

Personas: Empathetic Focus

Donald Normal believes that persona creation should be simple and easy to execute and should be aimed at helping design team communicate better. "So to me, the Persona is a tool for focus and an aid to communication, and for this purpose they only need to be realistic, not real, not necessarily even accurate (as long as they accurately characterize the user base). Although it is often fun to read the detailed descriptions of Personas and to pry into their private and social lives, I have never understood how these personal details actually aid in the design process itself. They seem completely superfluous."

Using Personas to Create User Documentation

Personas can be used in aiding many domains of design. Here Steve Calde of Cooper Design writes about how technical writers can use personas. Using personas to guide your user-documentation creation-process helps you:

Making Personas More Powerful

George Olsen has written a very nice article on using personas for design purposes. He makes a distinction between his strategy and Alan Cooper's strategy, which he says, focuses on garnering empathy. This article provides a nice background to his persona toolkit [PDF].

Learner Experience Design (LXD)?

It is interesting to note the rise of "design research" as it is used today in large scale website development. There were only a handful of design research methods a few years ago: card sorting, scenarios, and personas were the traditional tools of the trade. But since the transformation (mind, body, and soul) of web design to experience design, new methods have started to emerge on a frequent basis. Mike Kuniavsky's Observing the User Experience and Brenda Laurel's (editor) http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0262122634?v=glance" target="_blank">Design Research are two prominent books charting this trend. Also, IDEO's Method Cards offer 51 different methods to gather and analyze user experience data. The need for design research seems quite obvious: work and life have become complex; we need holistic methods to understand the changing relationships before designing anything. Nathan Shedroff offers a glimpse of how holistic one needs to get in designing experiences.

I sense a similar shift in e-learning design: from instructional design to learner experience design (LXD). If this too is going to be a mind, body, and soul shift, then we are need to be more holistic. We need to look beyond learner characteristics and learning objectives. We need our own set of learner experience methods to help us understand the complexities of learning, working, and decision making in the real world. I'll be talking on this very topic at the e-Agenda 2004 forum on 25-26 March. I would love to gather some feedback, experiences, opinions from you on this subject. You can use the comment feature here or e-mail me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Column Two: An introduction to personas and how to create them

Column Two: An introduction to personas and how to create them

"This article explains what personas are, benefits of using personas, answers to common objections about personas, and practical steps towards creating them. It is meant as an introduction to personas, and provides enough information to start creating your own."

Information Today: Personas: Setting the Stage                     for Building Usable Inf

Information Today: Personas: Setting the Stage for Building Usable Information Sites

"As long as personas are developed with diligence, the planning and development tool has three key benefits for interface design projects of all kinds. First, personas introduce teams to hypothetical users who have names, personal traits, and habits that in a relatively short time become believable constructs for honing design specifications. Second, personas are stand-ins with archetypal characteristics that represent a much larger group of users. Third, personas give design teams a strong sense of what users' goals are and what an interface needs to fulfill them."
[thanks infodesign]

Cooper: The Origin of Personas

Cooper: The Origin of Personas

"Had personas been developed in the laboratory, the full story of how they came to be would have been published long ago, but since their use developed over many years in both my practice as a software inventor and architectural consultant and the consulting work of Cooper designers, that is not the case. Since Inmates was published, many people have asked for the history of Cooper personas, and here it is."

DUX Case Studies: Personas: Practice and Theory

DUX Case Studies: Personas: Practice and Theory

"In three years of use, our colleagues and we have extended Alan Cooper's technique to make Personas a powerful complement to other usability methods. After describing and illustrating our approach, we outline the psychological theory that explains why Personas are more engaging than design based primarily on scenarios."
Download the PDF (340Kb)

GUUUI: Personas and the customer decision-making process

GUUUI: Personas and the customer decision-making process
"With this case study I want to show how our team used the concept of personas - fictional, representative user archetypes - and the customer decision-making process model in a project, in order to capture the nature of customers and their needs and concerns as they progress through the customer decision-making process."

Rashmi Sinha: Persona Development for Information-rich Domains

Rashmi Sinha: Persona Development for Information-rich Domains
"Designing information architecture for complex websites requires understanding user information needs and mental models in that domain. Personas, or user archetypes, created for such domains should also reflect types of information needs, and usage of information set. We have created a statistical technique to identify important underlying groupings of information needs. In a preliminary study, we show how designers can use this information in conjunction with data from interviews and observations to generate and refine personas."

Boxes and Arrows: IA Classics: Tools of the Trade in Comic Book Form

Boxes and Arrows: IA Classics: Tools of the Trade in Comic Book Form
"What I need are highly condensed overviews, I thought, like those comic books that convert great literary works into a few illustrated pages. They condense Moby Dick down to 12 pages and provide a version of Great Expectations that can be read in 15 minutes. So I created these one-pagers (it took me two pages to cover personas). I did treatments for the tools that could be done well in this format and skipped the ones that couldn't. My hope is that these pages help make the tools of our trade more accessible."

Cooper: Getting from Research to Personas:

Cooper: Getting from Research to Personas
The usefulness of personas in defining and designing interactive products has become more widely accepted in the last few years, but a lack of published information has, unfortunately, left room for a lot of misconceptions about how personas are created, and about what information actually comprises a persona... in this article, I hope to highlight a few essential points.

User Interface 7 East: Getting from Research to Personas: Harnessing the Power of Data

User Interface 7 East: Getting from Research to Personas: Harnessing the Power of Data
Kim Goodwin writes about the need to focus persona creation around behavioral variables rather than demographic variables. She gives some guidelines: 1) Gather ethnographic user data, 2) Add contextual details, and 3) Use narrative to bring out the persona's attitudes, needs, and problems.

User Interface 7 East: Cooper’s Approach to Personas: An Interview with Kim Goodwin

User Interface 7 East: Cooper's Approach to Personas: An Interview with Kim Goodwin
We use personas because they are powerful design, measurement, and communication tools. We use them in design to help us avoid the elastic user problem--where "the user" is a total novice one minute and a technophile the next--as well as self-referential design, because designers are seldom representative of a product's target audience. Personas also help cut through assumptions that certain tasks are necessary; if a task doesn't directly help accomplish a goal, we can try to eliminate it...

CHI Place: Personas: Exploring the

CHI Place: Personas: Exploring the Real Benefits of Imaginary People
A persona is a concrete representation of a target user of a product; an imaginary person derived from user research and described in rich detail... Personas allow teams to create a shared vocabulary regarding users. Creating individuals with names, jobs and personalities allows for a common vocabulary that alleviates the frustration of referring to the ambiguous user of a product.

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