Personas ought to be one of the defining techniques in user-focused design, but they’ve unfortunately become more of a check-off item than a useful tool. So how did we get here?
Entertainment, education, and collaboration software is often used by two or more people simultaneously. Each of these groups has a different set of needs and expectations, and each can be modeled as a group persona, rather than as individual users.
With all the attention to usability over the last five years or so and the wonderful swelling of information-architecture-related books just since 2001, you would think we would have enough methods and advice to keep our projects in perfect tack. But so many of these resources, excellent though they are, tend to be more about how to pilot the ship than how to find that all-important star and keep it in sight.
Even with the present downturn in the economy, more companies, from new media to established banks, have larger usability and design teams than ever before. Should we be content that we have come so far?
“Observe your users” — a maxim most user experience professionals subscribe to. But how do you “observe?” When testing websites, generating hypotheses about user behavior can help inform the observation process, structure data collection and analysis, and organize findings.
Design is driven by many considerations. But on each project I’ve worked on, there seems to be a consistent center — a driver that determines priorities, direction, and the metrics used to measure success.
Over the coming months and years, RIAs will move from cutting edge to mainstream. That transformation will accelerate with the Flash and user experience communities working together to understand and develop best practices and shared knowledge.
There are several important factors to consider when you are planning to do prototyping for user testing. You will want to make careful choices about fidelity, level of interactivity and the medium of your prototype. Chris Farnum offers descriptions and best use scenarios to help you make the best prototype decision for your tests.
The way you communicate the personas and present your deliverables is key to ensuring consistency of vision. Without that consistency, you’ll spend far too much time arguing with your colleagues about who your users are rather than how to meet their needs.