Monday, May 30, 2016

Learning about Personas

As we go through the Outreachy May-August internship, I plan to share updates on my blog. In this week, we're starting to walk through the steps to create a usability test. Feel free to use the comments section here as a kind of discussion forum.

In studying usability, we first need to understand who are the users. How you design the program may differ based on who uses it. Are your users mostly developers? Or are they mostly image experts? Or are they "general" users with "average" knowledge? This understanding will help you form a basis for the rest of your usability testing.

Designers often start with Personas to define their users. By using personas that everyone agrees to, the designers and developers (and everyone else on the project) can discuss how changes to the product will affect each representative user.

This avoids ambiguous discussion like "But what about the user who wants to do X?" or "But this works for me." With personas, the conversation becomes "How does this change benefit ‘Amanda’?" or "What can we do to make things easier for ‘Steve’?"

This week, please research and discuss personas. What are personas?

Some questions that might help you think about personas: What is a persona? Can you find more information about personas and how they help in usability testing? At what point in a project would you create personas?

I've included a few links that might help you in this week's discussion. What others can you find?

  1. 7 Core Ideas About Personas And The User Experience (Sauro, 2012)
  2. Usability Body of Knowledge > Persona (for UsabilityBOK; Carey, 2011)
  3. Five Approaches To Creating Lightweight Personas (Neeman, 2013)
  4. Usability.gov > Personas (Usability.gov)
  5. Sample persona > GNOME usability testing (Dawle, 2014)

Sanskriti Dawle was an intern for usability testing during Outreach Program for Women, in 2014. She wrote a good sample persona for GNOME as part of her work, and I wanted to share it here.
image: Outreachy

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