Saturday, March 01, 2008

You are not your user

So I am taking some time to select my sessions. Today I am thinking about personas. I have been reading ‘The User is Always Right – A Practical Guide to Creating Personas’ by Steve Mulder and Ziv Yaar, hence my interest in the session being lead by Tamara Adlin. According to Mulder and Yaar, personas bring focus (everyone is not a user), build empathy (you are not your users), encourage consensus (get the team on the same page), and create efficiency (think of it as an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure). And all of that leads to better decisions.

For those of you not familiar with personas, this is not a demographic breakdown of your members. You can't design good products or write good copy to a demographic; good development and good messages are driven by having a clear picture (figuratively and literally) of a person.

One question that frequently pops up is how many personas are appropriate. I recently heard a rumor that Apple has one persona. This is an unsubstaniated rumor, but it wouldn't surprise me. Think about the focus you can have with one persona. Hmm - think of the success of the iPod. Is one persona possible in an association community? Well, it might be in a niche market (have you read the The Long Tail yet) but, highly improbable with associations whose members have fragmented into specialties or global organizations.

So are you using personas to make better business decisions? Are personas on your radar list of things you need check out?



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