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Managing Startups: Best Blog Posts by Thomas Eisenmann

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Chapter 15. A Perfect Use for Personas

I just read Dave McClure’s post about changes to menus and its not-always-flattering Hacker News thread, and I found myself both violently agreeing and disagreeing with both. I kept thinking something along the lines of, “That would be great! Except when it would be incredibly annoying!”

That’s when I realized what was missing for me: personas.

First off, apologies to Dave, who certainly doesn’t need me to defend or improve on his ideas. This is just meant to be an explanation of the process I went through as a designer and researcher to understand my weird, ambivalent reaction to his product suggestions. Here are the problems that Dave listed in his post that he was solving for:

  • Too many items, not enough pictures, simpler and more obvious recommendations

  • Not online, no order history, no reviews, no friends, no loyalty program, no A/B testing

  • Have to wait forever for waiter to order, reorder, and pay

  • Nothing to do while I’m waiting

Then he presented reasonable solutions to these problems. All of the suggestions seemed geared toward making restaurants quicker, more efficient, and lower touch. Interestingly, both the Hacker News complaints and my own seemed to be from the point of view of people who do not have these problems. They were saying things like, “This would make restaurants awful!” but what they really meant was, “I, as a potential user, don’t identify with that particular problem you’re trying to solve, so your solution does ...

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