emergency weblog; or: epersonae; or: elaine nelson

in which I write about stuff


big long notes.

Categories: conference notes, webvisions 2007


okay, that worked.

“if our tvs went down like computers….”  (which led to reminiscing about antennas, vertical hold & not having remotes.)

yep, a follow-up to the last session I was at. not everything you’d want to know, more like whirlwind tour.

again with the durable & actionable.

office room == painting of signing of consititution.  “what happened to feature x.” “customers don’t want it.” “but that’s not what we said we were going to do.” to be answered by jargon blather, and back and forth. “forget everything you know about users. we need to be innovative.” (apparently an actual quote.) and the conversation goes downhill from there.

omg I want that graphic of jefferson with head exploding, because that’s what I always say!

1) business results depend on satisfying users.

2) you are not your user. (hey, another financial services project! opening new accounts, couldn’t talk to financial advisors. redesigning fundamental interface w/out actually talking to the users, only thru stakeholders.  so they built for power. and then they could talk to users in testing: and they HATED it. had to start from scratch, and this time got to talk to real people instead of just stakeholders.

3) learning about users requires direct contact. (who is doing that @work? anybody?!)

4) knowledge about users must be actionable. moving from raw notes, spreadsheets, etc.

5) decisions should be based on users.  what to build, how to build it. also need to be talking about users in a memorable way (thus personas, I suppose). friend’s quest to buy a house. but no clue where to start. (hm, when we did that, we actually started with WSECU; this was of course when I was still @ Pierce.) ah, she’s actually a persona. :) archetype, with unique characteristics.  (but that doesn’t negate the thought I was starting on.)

ooooh, lego heads.

personas bring focus. build empathy (as previously mentioned), use our hard-wiring of attaching to individuals.  encourage consensus. “well, do we need this feature on this page?” when you’re supposed to be working on the design comp.

distracting weirdness with the mic.

personas create efficiency. making the right decisions earlier. asking who we’re serving and what they need, earlier. adding the step up front so as to save stupid work later. lead to making better decisions. used to be just a design thing. “cute stuff” now moving into different parts of the org. again personas vs. market segmentation. (in re: marketing) and then in strategy. holy moley. the squeaky wheel persona was about 5%, not too valuable. vs. frank the frequent customer, 60% of users, 80% of business. doesn’t care about the stuff the squeaky wheel person is fussing over. redesigned entire business around that one persona!

creating personas

landscape x/y chart of user research. aspirational (what they say) vs. behaviors (what they do). sony boombox focus group: everybody picked yellow. and then take one on yr way out…and people actually TOOK the black boomboxen. the quantitative vs. qualitative. (insight vs. validation)

nobody has time to make personas from all of that!

method one: talk to real people, do segmentation (how do they group together), then each segment = persona. easiest way to get started. cross-section of people, not just people using website now. very unstructured. 15 interviews is a good starting point. uncover what you don’t know.

huge slide of bullet points. topics for interviews. “tell me about your experience.”

elements to segment on. digression re: segmentation in traditional marketing, selling to people, and demographics. this: not just selling to get them to the site, but to understand how they USE it. most important: goals, behaviors, attitudes.

working from the smallest goal (learn about points) to the larger goals (be happy & independent). task leads to need leads to goal leads to motivator. the middle (need & goal) are the most useful.

okay, so does this feel like the real people? then go to behaviors (frequency? channel use?) and attitudes (how much do they think they know? perceptions of us?)

come up with a ton of ideas.  then explore combinations with x/y axis. (I’m seeing an indexed drawing in my mind.) again is it complete? does it match actual people?

fedex example.

list of tests. (I hope these slides are going to be available!)

why should we believe you based on 20 people? so version 2 involves a second run getting quantitative data (survey, traffic analysis) to validate. 100 data points per segment is a good minimum.

question types: things we want to test (against our segments) and then independent variables. recommended order of questions on a slide. do the demographic stuff at the END. huh.

and then traffic analysis, what people do! log files. big @ss list of things to look for, which includes some of the data that Paul tracks. so segmentation can then show both what they say and what they do.

(digression: oh, hey, this is the guy I first learned about CSS from, way back in the webmonkey days.

what the user says, does, and is worth. nirvana! jeebus, cross-tabs in excel.

version 3…can happen in v2 that your segments are totally off. so then the middle step is slimmer, with hypotheses. and then segmentation is done by the machine. weird. bringing science into the process as much as possible.

dump in all the variables, number of segments (3-6), and get options. data says: here’s however many sets of segments, and then it turns back into art.

blah blah blah spreadsheets. (and while you might not want to show it to people, it’s good to be able to say that you have it!)

what makes each persona unique? goals and such.

alliteration can help with names and memory. must make them real! photos are fun. (hey, i think I was thinking about using the bottom left woman for an ad!) sxc.hu, morguefile.com, istockphoto.com. again with the real people.

just the right data would reinforce the message, invented hobbies, jobs, etc. that match the persona.

then what’s specific to the industry/project, and their technological access.

but not just lists! a story (again, made to stick).

and label as primary, secondary, unimportant, excluded, to prioritize in competitions.

a scenario describes how we want them to interact with us in the future.

now on to using personas! practical advice

having a document, but repackaging as cards. (with gum?! go around the room and say who is most like each persona. and that can affect hiring?!)

lifesize cutouts. (on my ride to work, there’s a house where a guy has a lifesize cutout of a marine by his front door. totally wigs me out.)

persona cubicles. faux environments. doodads, quizzes, etc., etc. anything to keep them in people’s minds. (hm, like how the core values are promoted.)

can be useful or goofy, depending on the environment.

personas shine historically in the arena of features & functionality. directed brainstorming based on a personas goals posed against our business goals. in the middle: features and content that might fit BOTH. that’s damn rad.

and then a crazy matrix of prioritizing — adding personas along with all the other decision-making.

site structure. and back to task analysis. the scenario is the emotionalized context of a set of tasks. nice. or a use case.

paths personas might take through the site.

primary persona may be different at the page or section level.

okay, all of this reminded me that I’ve been meaning to register epersonae.org. (done.)

back to the session….

matching the contents and style to the persona. word cloud! ooooh. fun fun fun.

mood boards vs…. a more implicit process. how does the look match their needs and concerns? for one, it’s making links big open and clear, and then for another, adding a headshot and other elements to inspire trust.

and then iterative testing. QA scripts from persona POV. filter feedback & surveys thru lens of personas. how do I look at my log files and know whether the people in those segments are actually doing what we want them to do?

Q: 4000 page site, elearning, does personas help with creating navigation. his take on the old higher ed navigation problem of topics vs. audiences: only do audiences if you’re also doing topics, as a secondary method.

Q: example of amnesty international site redesigned by happy cog as successful use.

Q: adaptability of a site that’s built on personas? and how do you know who’s using/not using features. ah, this sounds like you can only really know in cases where you have known people logged in. (like online banking?) otherwise you’re kinda guessing. oh, no, it’s also connecting usability testing, use testing, to the personas.  is this test case a “fred”, etc. subtly guiding the experience? with predictive modelling.

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