Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Usability project - week 2 (personas)

I encourage everyone to follow our progress in the GNOME Usability Project. I'm planning to post each "assignment" on my blog every week. I figure this will help others who might want to apply to the Outreach Program for Women in future years, so they can "follow along" with what we are doing. Or, if you have more experience in usability testing, feel free to leave a comment on our work.

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?

Good designers 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 —?" 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, let's research and discuss personas. Consider these aspects:
What is a persona?
Can you find (Google?) more information about personas and how they help in usability testing? At what point in a project would you create personas?

Can you identify personas for usability testing in GNOME?
What users does GNOME aim for? This is a different audience than the users for GNU Emacs, for example. What persona types would you propose for GNOME? Pick one, and create (write) a persona for that example.

I considered personas for my usability study, but decided not to include them in my capstone project. Why didn't I use personas? Can you find a reference or note in my capstone? (Hint: it's in an appendix.)
I think you'll find these topics are inter-related.

Some websites that might help you in discussing personas:
image: Outreach Program for Women

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