O'Reilly logo

Stay ahead with the world's most comprehensive technology and business learning platform.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required

The Persona Lifecycle: Keeping People in Mind Throughout Product Design

Book Description

If you design and develop products for people, this book is for you. The Persona Lifecycle addresses the "how" of creating effective personas and using those personas to design products that people love. It doesn't just describe the value of personas; it offers detailed techniques and tools related to planning, creating, communicating, and using personas to create great product designs. Moreover, it provides rich examples, samples, and illustrations to imitate and model. Perhaps most importantly, it positions personas not as a panacea, but as a method used to complement other user-centered design (UCD) techniques including scenario-based design, cognitive walkthroughs and user testing. John Pruitt is the User Research Manager for the Tablet & Mobile PC Division at Microsoft Corporation. Tamara Adlin is a Customer Experience Manager at Amazon.com. For the past six years, John and Tamara have been researching and using personas, leading workshops, and teaching courses at professional conferences and universities. They developed the Persona Lifecycle model to communicate the value and practical application of personas to product design and development professionals.

Table of Contents

  1. Copyright
    1. Dedication
  2. Enthusiastic Endorsements From Both Founders of the Nielsen Norman Group!
  3. The Morgan Kaufmann Series in Interactive Technologies
  4. Acknowledgments
  5. Foreword
  6. 1. The Next Frontier for User-Centered Design: Making User Representations More Usable
    1. You are Already a Professional Imaginer
    2. This Book is About Building Products for People
    3. Why do we Need Personas?
      1. The word “user” isn’t very helpful
      2. When we try to understand users, we collect data
      3. Raw data isn’t inherently useful, and neither are most reports
      4. Understanding your users is necessary, but not sufficient, for good design
    4. Personas Help Make User-Centered Design Possible
      1. Personas make assumptions about users explicit
      2. Personas place the focus on specific users rather than on “everyone”
      3. In limiting our choices, personas help us make better decisions
      4. Personas engage the product design and development team
    5. User Representations are not New and we can Learn a Lot from the Past
      1. Representations of users in marketing and branding
        1. Sissors’ and Weinstein’s market definitions
        2. Moore’s “target customer characterizations”
        3. Upshaw’s customer “indivisualization”
        4. Mello’s customer image statements
      2. Representations of users in usability and interaction design
        1. Carroll’s scenarios
        2. Hackos and Redish’s user profiles
        3. Constantine and Lockwood’s User Roles
        4. Mikkelson and Lee’s user archetypes
        5. Cooper’s Personas
    6. The Next Frontier for Personas
    7. Sounds Great! Let’s use Personas! …It’s Easier Said than Done
      1. The dearth of detailed guidance on personas
      2. Personas are not always successful
        1. Personas failed when the effort was not accepted or supported by the leadership team
        2. Personas failed when they were not seen as credible and associated with methodological rigor and data
        3. Personas failed when they were poorly communicated
        4. Personas failed when the team did not understand how to use them
    8. This Book is Designed to Fill in the Gaps
      1. We include practical methods, detailed instructions, and examples
      2. This book is for you—no matter what your discipline or role in product development
      3. How to use this book
    9. Summary
  7. 2. Overview of the Persona Lifecycle: Putting the Persona Method into Perspective
    1. The Phases of the Persona Lifecycle
      1. Phase 1: persona family planning
      2. Phase 2: persona conception and gestation
      3. Phase 3: persona birth and maturation
      4. Phase 4: persona adulthood
      5. Phase 5: persona lifetime achievement, reuse, and retirement
    2. The Persona Lifecycle is Designed to Enhance, Not Replace, Your Existing Processes
      1. The persona lifecycle can introduce user-centered design into your technical development process
      2. The persona lifecycle can enhance user-centered design methods already in place
    3. Putting it All Together: the Persona Lifecycle in Action
    4. Summary
  8. 3. Persona Family Planning
    1. Setting the Scene: What’s going on in your organization now if you’re not using personas?
    2. What is Family Planning for Personas?
    3. Building a Core Team
      1. Why do you need a core team?
      2. How many people should be on your core team?
      3. Who should be on your core team?
        1. Think strategically as you create your team
        2. Marketing Professionals
        3. Market Research Professionals
        4. Business Analysts
        5. Data Mining, Analysis, and Statistics Professionals
        6. Product Managers, Program Managers, and Development Managers
        7. Customer Support Professionals
        8. Sales Professionals
        9. Developers
        10. Graphics and Interface Designers
        11. Be ready to ask your colleagues for their time
        12. Key people don’t have to be on the core team to be helpful
        13. Think about your budget
      4. What if I can’t create a core team?
      5. Plan your first persona team meeting
    4. Researching your own Organization (Organizational Introspection)
      1. Question 1: How user-focused is your company?
        1. How can I answer this question?
        2. Does your company believe it is user focused?
        3. Does your company act in a user-focused manner?
        4. How can I use this information?
      2. Question 2: How does your organization think and communicate about users?
        1. How can I answer this question?
        2. How can I use this information?
      3. Question 3: How is user information incorporated into the product design and development process?
        1. How can I answer this question?
        2. How can I use this information?
      4. Now you know the problems. Are personas the solution?
        1. Building user focus is much more important than building personas
        2. Different user representations suit different needs
    5. Create an Action Plan
      1. Define the scope of your persona effort
      2. Define specific goals for the persona effort
      3. Create a communication strategy
        1. Create a strategy for method evangelism
        2. Prepare a persona “rude Q&A” document
      4. Identify milestones and deliverables
      5. Family planning deliverables
      6. Conception and gestation deliverables
      7. Birth and maturation deliverables
      8. Adulthood deliverables
      9. Lifetime achievement and retirement (and ROI) deliverables
    6. Decide when and How to Involve consultants
      1. Plan to include your consultants throughout the product development process
      2. If you are a consultant: early deliverables will help convey the value of the personas
    7. Identify Data Sources and Collect Data
      1. Creating personas from rigorous data is the best option, but it’s not the only option
      2. Identifying data sources
        1. Finding primary data sources internally
        2. A typical internal data source: market segmentation analysis
        3. From UCD specialists:
        4. From product management and business analysts:
        5. From marketing and product planning:
        6. From customer service, sales support, and account management:
        7. From sales:
        8. From documentation and training:
        9. From engineering and operations:
        10. From the executive staff:
        11. From human resources and internal training (if your target audience is your own employees, such as when creating or redesigning an intranet site):
        12. Finding primary data sources externally
    8. Plan and Execute your Own Primary User Research
    9. Conduct Field Studies to Gather Qualitative Data
      1. Create a list of the things you want to find out
      2. Decide who you want to visit and train your team
      3. Recruit participants
      4. Create a script for the visit
      5. Conduct the visit
      6. Create artifacts to communicate the data
      7. Analyze the data
    10. Collect Data Through Secondary Sources
      1. Collect assumptions as a secondary data source
      2. What are assumption personas and why use them?
        1. Assumptions exist. Assumption personas merely articulate them
        2. Assumption personas are easy to create and help people understand why personas are valuable
        3. Assumption personas can prompt data collection
        4. Assumption personas, communicated and used properly, are simply not that risky
        5. When are assumption personas a bad idea?
      3. Collecting assumptions to create assumption personas
      4. How long does it take to create assumption personas?
      5. Step 1: Identify and collect existing assumptions
        1. Meet with stakeholders and leaders
        2. Schedule a two-hour individual brainstorming session with the product team
        3. Send out an e-mail questionnaire
        4. Review existing product vision, strategy, and design documents
      6. Step 2: Create assumption personas
    11. Track and Manage Data Sources as you Collect them
      1. Create a data-collection-by-topic spreadsheet
      2. Create a data source index
    12. Summary
  9. 4. Persona Conception and Gestation
    1. Setting The Scene: What’s Going on in your Organization Now?
    2. What is Conception and Gestation for Personas?
      1. The six-step conception and gestation process
      2. How long does conception and gestation take?
        1. If you only have a week or two: low-budget approaches
        2. Create assumption personas
        3. Create quick data-driven personas
        4. If you have several weeks or more: Getting the most out of your data
      3. How many personas should you create?
        1. The argument for a single primary persona
        2. Creating the one person to design for: Great in theory; complicated in practice
        3. When should I determine how many personas to create?
    3. Persona Conception: Steps 1, 2, and 3
      1. Step 1: Identify important categories of users
        1. Why should I try to identify categories of users before I look at the data?
        2. Thinking about user roles, user goals, and user segments
        3. User roles
        4. User goals
        5. User segments
        6. Hold a meeting to determine categories of users
      2. Step 2: Process the data
        1. Data processing methods
        2. Collaborative assimilation has side benefits
        3. Assimilation works well, but it does have a few drawbacks
      3. Plan your assimilation meeting
      4. Describe the goal and outcome of the meeting
      5. Identify key data points (factoids) in the data sources
      6. Transfer factoids to sticky notes
      7. Post user category labels around the room
      8. Assimilate the factoids
      9. Label the clusters of factoids
        1. Data tends to cluster in expected and unexpected ways
        2. Know when to stop
      10. Step 3: Identify subcategories of users and create skeletons
        1. Identify subcategories of users
        2. Clusters identify groups of facts; subcategories identify groups of people
        3. When does a difference merit a subcategory?
        4. What if we end up creating a lot of categories and subcategories?
        5. Create skeletons
        6. How many skeletons should I create?
    4. Persona Gestation: Steps 4, 5, and 6
      1. Step 4: Prioritize the Skeletons
        1. Structure the Discussion
        2. Identify Primary and Secondary Targets
      2. Step 5: Develop Selected Skeletons into Personas
        1. What is a Persona Foundation Document?
        2. Choose Persona Characteristics to Include in the Foundation Document
        3. Start a Foundation Document (Transfer Factoids into your Skeletons)
        4. Get Specific about Each Core Characteristic
        5. Moving Toward Precision means Moving Away from Accuracy
        6. When in Doubt, Choose Details that are Precise and Memorable
        7. Incorporate Narrative and Storytelling Elements
        8. Derive Specific Details and Stories from real Observations
        9. You can use Stereotypes, but Use them with Care
        10. Beware any Details that can Evoke Strong Emotional Responses
        11. Don’t overdo it
        12. Know when to Stop
        13. Illustrate your Personas
        14. Don’t use Stock Photos
        15. Illustrations can be an Interesting Alternative to Photos
        16. Audition the Photos and/or Illustrations
        17. Name your personas
        18. Create Name + Tag Line Combinations
      3. Step 6: Validate your Personas
        1. Check Back in with your Data
        2. Have Subject-Matter Experts Review your Personas
        3. Show your Personas to Real Users
        4. Conduct “Reality Check” Site Visits
        5. Create Persona Profile Screeners
        6. Recruit Representative People and Visit them
        7. Conduct Large Sample Surveys or Interviews
        8. Validation is an Opportunity for Data Gathering
        9. Completed Personas do not Mark the End of user Research
    5. How to Know you are Ready for Birth and Maturation
    6. Summary
  10. 5. Persona Birth and Maturation
    1. Setting the Scene—What’s Going on in your Organization Now?
    2. What is Birth and Maturation for Personas?
    3. Step 1: Prepare for Birth and Beyond
      1. Enrich your Communication Strategy
        1. Goals for the Communication Campaign:
        2. Communication Strategy (who, what, when, and how):
      2. Keep Stakeholders “in the Know”
      3. Evaluate your Audiences and Determine who needs what Information
      4. Birth can be a “Private” Event if Necessary
      5. Be Realistic about your Timing
      6. Prepare the Core Persona Team for their New Roles in Birth and Beyond
      7. Persona Core Team Members Transition into “Persona Wranglers”
        1. Assign a Wrangler for each Persona
        2. Agree on which Persona Characteristics must be Protected
    4. Step 2: Birth
      1. Introduce User-Centered Design, the Persona Method, and your Persona Project
        1. Communicate the Benefits of User-Centered Product Design
        2. Communicate the Benefits of using Personas
        3. Communicate the Specifics of your Persona Effort
        4. How your Personas came into Being
        5. How your Personas will Fit in to your Existing Development Cycle
        6. The Everyday Benefits of Personas
      2. Introduce your Personas
      3. What if Birth makes you Realize Something is Wrong with the Personas?
      4. What if Birth just doesn’t Work?
    5. Step 3: Maturation
      1. Progressively Educate and Maintain Focus on your Personas
      2. Send your Personas out into the World, but Maintain Ownership
      3. Work to Build Credibility
      4. Conduct Persona-Based user Research
      5. Focus on More than Getting the Personas known; Focus on Getting them Used
    6. Persona Artifacts (The what and How of Communicating your Personas)
      1. The Persona Artifact Design Process: Things to Consider Whatever Materials or Format you Use
      2. Select the Best Communication Tool for the Job: Three Categories of Persona Artifacts
      3. Buzz Generators
        1. Early Buzz Generators
        2. “Do you Know Who our Users are?” Posters
        3. “The Personas are Coming” Posters
        4. Introduction Posters
        5. Later Buzz Generators
        6. Trinkets and Gizmos (if you have a Budget)
        7. Trinkets and Gizmos (if Money is Scarce)
        8. Bring the Personas to Life (or Life-Size!)
      4. Comparison Facilitators
        1. Early Comparison Facilitators
        2. Persona Rosters
        3. A Persona Communication Constellation
        4. The Executive Summary Slide
        5. Later Comparison Facilitators
        6. Detailed Comparison Posters
      5. Enrichers
        1. Persona One-Pagers
        2. Targeted Detail Posters
        3. Targeted Detail Handouts (Candy, Gizmos, and so on)
        4. Persona e-mail Campaigns
        5. Anti-Personas
        6. Create real People Posters
      6. Create a Central Repository for your Persona Artifacts
      7. The Persona Web Site
    7. If you are a Consultant
    8. Summary
  11. 6. Persona Adulthood
    1. Setting the Scene—What’s Going on in your Organization now?
    2. What is Adulthood for Personas?
      1. What to expect during persona adulthood
      2. Help your personas “settle in”
      3. Start with the basics: invite personas into your offices and into your meetings
    3. Plan, Design, Evaluate, Release: how to use Personas During the Stages of Product Development
    4. Stage 1: Use Personas to Plan your Product
      1. Persona-based approaches for understanding user requirements and envisioning your product
      2. Invite personas to tell you their stories
      3. Analyze your competition through the eyes of your personas
      4. Brainstorm possible features using your personas
      5. Prioritize features using the persona-weighted feature matrix
      6. Plot feature value versus technical feasibility
    5. Stage 2: Use Personas to Explore Design Solutions
      1. Personas and scenario-based design
      2. Create a scenario collection spreadsheet
      3. Use personas to help you explore visual design solutions
      4. Adult personas and developers
    6. Stage 3: Use Personas to Evaluate your Solutions
      1. Use personas in design reviews and cognitive walkthroughs
      2. Use personas as a recruiting profile for usability testing and market research
      3. Use personas to focus quality assurance testing and to create test cases
      4. Use personas and scenarios to inform test cases
    7. Stage 4: Use Personas to Support the Release of your Product
      1. Personas can help focus instructional materials, guidebooks, and editorial content
      2. Personas can tailor marketing and sales efforts
      3. Remember to differentiate between users and customers
    8. Transitioning into Lifetime Achievement, Reuse, and Retirement
    9. Summary
  12. 7. Persona Lifetime Achievement, Reuse, and Retirement
    1. Setting the Scene: What’s Going on in Your Organization Now?
    2. What is Lifetime Achievement, Reuse, and Retirement for Personas?
    3. Lifetime Achievement: Measure the Return on Investment (Roi) of Your Persona Effort
      1. Measuring the ROI of user experience work
      2. Measuring the ROI of the persona effort
      3. The work you did during the family planning phase will help you measure ROI
      4. ROI question 1: How much did your persona effort cost?
        1. How much time did your personas take?
        2. How much did your personas cost in other ways?
      5. ROI question 2: In what measurable ways did personas improve your product?
        1. Define product success
        2. Trace successful aspects of your product to the use of personas
        3. If you want to extend your analysis, try Donoghue’s “experience matrix.”
        4. Measure the success of the end-to-end user experience
        5. Find out if your product reflects and supports actual user goals
        6. Measure customer satisfaction
        7. Measure decreased support and maintenance costs
      6. ROI question 3: In what measurable ways did personas improve your design and development processes?
        1. Look for increased efficiency in the design and development processes
        2. Measure the value of avoiding unnecessary work
        3. Find out if personas improved communication—especially across teams
        4. Trace process improvements to the use of personas
      7. ROI question 4: Is your company more user-centered with personas than it was before?
        1. Suggestions for measuring organizational changes
        2. Was the desire for a cultural shift one of the reasons for trying personas?
        3. Find a way of measuring “social ROI”
        4. Look closely at failures of the personas
      8. Use your successes to build a case for your next project
    4. Reuse and Retirement: Decide How to Manage the Transition to the Next Project
      1. Step 1: Reclaim ownership and control of your personas
      2. Step 2: Evaluate your data. Is it still valid for the next project?
      3. Step 3: Decide to reuse, reincarnate, or retire your personas
      4. Reusing your personas
        1. Your personas might be happier in a new home
        2. Create a persona library
        3. Manage the reuse of personas
        4. Reincarnating your personas (reusing some or all of your data)
        5. Reincarnating personas
        6. Evolving versus reincarnating your personas
      5. Retiring your personas
    5. Summary
  13. 8. Users, Roles, and Personas
    1. Roles and Personas
    2. Modeling Users with Roles
    3. Modeling User Tasks
    4. From Abstract Tasks to Concrete Interfaces
    5. Both/And Modeling
    6. In Practice
    7. Personas or Not
  14. 9. Storytelling and Narrative
    1. Personas Work Because they Tell Stories
    2. We are Wired for Storytelling
    3. Shared Stories Create Culture
    4. Stories are not Just for Bedtime
      1. Stories communicate culture
      2. Stories Organize and Transmit Information
      3. Stories Explore New Ideas
    5. The Well-Crafted Story
      1. Good Stories are Short
      2. Good Stories have Just the Right Details
    6. Stories Work When People Believe in Them
    7. Putting Stories to Work
    8. Stories and Scenarios
      1. A springboard story
      2. A “points of pain” story
      3. A Key Scenario
      4. A Narrative Scenario
      5. A Design Map
        1. A Flow Diagram
      6. Use cases
    9. Crafting a Story
      1. Reasons to Write a Story
        1. Establish Context
        2. Illustrate a Problem
        3. Propose a New Solution
      2. Elements of a Story
      3. Putting it Together
      4. Refining your Story
      5. Finding the Right Details
      6. Finding a Style and Voice for the Story
      7. Practice Makes Perfect
      8. Writing the Right Story
    10. Summary
  15. 10. Reality and Design Maps
    1. Maps Complement the Creation and Use of Personas
    2. What Exactly are Maps?
      1. Elements of every Map: titles, steps, questions, comments, and design ideas
        1. Steps (blue sticky notes)
        2. Comments (green sticky notes)
        3. Questions (yellow sticky notes)
        4. Design Ideas (pink sticky notes)
      2. Why use Maps?
    3. The Reality Mapping Process
      1. Step 1: Create a Mapping plan
      2. Create a schedule
      3. Step 2: Create the Maps
      4. Get people talking
        1. Keep Mapping sessions focused and productive
        2. If the session starts to derail
        3. Develop your Maps iteratively
      5. Step 3: Analyze the Maps
        1. Identify and label interesting aspects of the Map
        2. Phase labels
        3. Artifact indicators
        4. “Mr. Yuk” indicators
        5. “Deep dive” indicators
        6. Map connection arrows
        7. Map legend
        8. Look for shared—and unique—approaches to similar tasks
        9. Explore complex processes and interactions with branches and layers
        10. Branching
        11. Layering
        12. Layered Maps for users with the same roles and goals
        13. Layered Maps for users with different roles and goals
        14. Analyze Maps for repetitiveness, complexity, and overall flow
        15. “Perform” your Reality Maps
        16. How do you know when a Reality Map is “done” and when you have created enough Reality Maps?
      6. Step 4: Harvest the Reality Maps for information to use in your personas
    4. What are Design Maps?
      1. Reality Maps describe the present; Design Maps explore the future
      2. Reality Maps analyze the tasks and experiences of real people; Design Maps are the bridge between task analysis and design
      3. Design Maps can be created with or without real users
      4. Design Maps will help you create materials for supporting the development process
    5. The Design Mapping Process
      1. Step 1: Decide which processes you want to Map
      2. Step 2: Create the Maps
        1. Managing Design Mapping sessions
        2. Use Design Maps to create wireframes
      3. Step 3: Evaluate and communicate your solutions
        1. Use Design Maps to get different views of your product in action
        2. Use Design Maps to support walkthroughs and to create scenarios and use cases
        3. Use Design Maps to evaluate design changes during development
        4. Use Design Maps to communicate with other departments
    6. Summary
  16. 11. Marketing Versus Design Personas
    1. Personas Always Have one Foot in the World of Marketing
      1. Personas are a form of segmentation
      2. Segments and personas answer different information needs
    2. A Place for Personas in Today’s Marketing Revolution
      1. The customer experience revolution
      2. Experiential marketing
      3. An increased desire for customer intimacy
      4. A need for richer descriptions of customers
      5. Personas, like people, are multidimensional
      6. An increasingly collaborative environment
      7. Customer research needs to be accessible
    3. Building Personas Specifically for Marketing Purposes
      1. Marketing personas versus design personas
      2. Family planning
        1. Focus on customers instead of users
        2. Avoid talking about features
        3. Experiment with scenarios
        4. Help people “project” their feelings
        5. Watch it happen
      3. Conception and gestation
        1. Primary marketing personas
        2. Organizational personas
    4. Flexing your Design Personas’ Muscles for Marketing Purposes
      1. Check your requirements: Are you building the right product?
      2. Pay attention to the surprises
      3. Scan the competitive landscape: Where do you sit?
      4. Look for clues into technology adoption behaviors
      5. Plan your messaging strategy: What will grab your customer’s attention?
    5. Building your Brand with Help from Personas
      1. What is brand—and why even care?
        1. Brands are promises
        2. Strong brands are profitable
        3. Brands require nurturing
      2. The brand ladder: connecting personas, products, and brand
        1. What is a brand ladder?
        2. Reconciling brand attributes and customer values
      3. “What values are shared by our customer and our brand?”
        1. Benefits to design and communication
        2. Brand ladders help generate ideas
        3. Brand ladders help with prioritization
    6. Summary
  17. 12. Why Personas Work: The Psychological Evidence
    1. Introduction
      1. We naturally model other people
      2. Models of fictional people can be as engaging as models of real people
      3. Our models are often detailed and complex
    2. Understanding other Minds: Where did this Capacity Come From?
    3. Conscious Models and Unconscious Models: Why does it Matter?
    4. Studies of Articulated Conscious Models
    5. Studies of Unconscious Models
      1. Stereotypes and cultural differences
      2. Traits
      3. Goals, plans, expectancies, and scripts
      4. Specific knowledge of individuals: holistic images
      5. Psychological evidence from dreams
    6. Psychological Evidence from Writing
    7. Psychological Evidence from Acting
    8. Summary: Psychological Accuracy and Fictional Preparation
    9. Psychological Assessments of other Design Methods
      1. Scenario-based design and task analysis
      2. Stereotypes and traits
      3. Contextual design
      4. Ethnography and participatory design: direct contact with specific users
    10. From Engagement to Caring
    11. Summary
  18. A. G4K Organizational Archetype and Sample Persona
    1. Organizational Archetype: Gigantic For Kids (G4K), Incorporated
      1. G4K Company Details
        1. Financial Info
        2. Corporate Background
        3. Mission Statement
        4. Customers
        5. Key Software Products
        6. Business Overview
        7. Gigantic in a Nutshell
    2. An Example Persona, Tanner Thompson, The Tenacious Tinkerer
      1. Data-Driven Persona: Tanner Thompson
      2. Tanner Thompson
      3. Meet Tanner Thompson
      4. Tanner’s Goals & Desires
      5. What does Tanner want from G4kids.com
      6. Tanner’s Computer & Internet Usage Tanner at School
        1. Tanner at Play
        2. Tanner and the Family Computer
    3. Research References
  19. B. Example Personas From Real Projects
    1. Quarry Integrated Communications & Realsuite Incorporated
      1. Project Overview
      2. Persona creation
      3. Outcome
        1. Two example personas from this project:
    2. Mentor Graphics
      1. Persona Creation
      2. Outcome
        1. Two example personas from this project:
    3. Zylom Media Group
      1. Project Overview
      2. Persona creation
      3. Outcome
        1. Two example personas from this project:
  20. C. Sample Image Release Form
  21. References
    2. Additional Resources
      1. Questionnaire Resources
      2. Other Sources
  22. About the Authors
  23. About the Illustrator