Socializing User Personas

Meet Our Players
JB working on Design Persona

JB adding some details to one of our design personas

A few months ago our UX team had an opportunity to share the persona work we are doing with a larger group at our company.

Meet Our Players

Part of a presentation where we introduced our personas

It was Sales Kick Off and we had all the field people coming in to our Portland office.   Folks who have been visiting the 7th floor where we live have gotten used to seeing every available bit of wall space being taken up with persona work in progress.

We wanted to a way to introduce the concept of representative users — tools for goal driven design.

We wanted a way to talk about what personas are and what they are NOT.

A.  A design persona is not a description of a real user or an average user.
B.  A design persona is not a job description or a role, which is common in other user profiles used in software design, for example actors in use-cases or buyer personas.

We also wanted something fun for the field folks to carry away from our visit.

Persona Cards

Deck of persona cards laying around waiting to be used to help create good in the world

An episode of Pawn Stars where the “collectibility” of baseball cards was the topic, spawned an IDEA.   So we scraped together some budget to license some images and sweet-talked some our our friends in marketing to help us produce cards that would represent our design personas.

We distributed them to  everyone attending the kick off event.

Archie's goals

Archie’s goals are displayed on the back of his card

We also left them laying around where people could find them.

It was pretty good to have an opportunity to talk about personas.  That they are models that represent archetypal users by representing patterns of users’ behavior, goals and motives, compiled in a fictional descriptions of a individual.

That they are models of users that focus on the individual’s goals — and most importantly that THE PERSONA is not a person but an artifact.  It has a specific purpose as a tool for software and product design.
We also got to talk about how the articulation of goals is what helps us decide that there should be another person — not a job title or an association with a particular vertical or industry.   We focused on the goals we all know and love from Cooper.
*Those simple and universal personal goals like  “not make mistakes”, “get an adequate amount of work done”  and “have fun” ( or at least not be too bored).  We expressed these as “wants”.
*The corporate goals we expressed as “have tos”.
*The practical goals that help us focus the design.  We express these as “needs” — like what does he need to do to meet his corporate goals and his personal goals.
Katie loves her some persona cards

Katie loves her some persona cards

These cards are popping up everywhere.  All of us UX types have them up in our cubes.  We have to look at Ferris every day……
We like to think that we are helping  create a shared understanding of the most important attributes and goals of our most important users.
User flows using persona cards

Our IA has taken a wall and is making user flows using persona cards

It’s pretty cool to see that these cards are being used.  It’s hard to forget about our users when they are laying around in piles everywhere.
We’ve even have some Agilists recommend changing the (random) numbers we printed on the cards to make them seem more like base ball cards to the Fibonacci numbers we use to estimate story points so we can use them to play “point poker” during estimation sessions.
All in all this has been a good experiment.

We all know that if used, design personas transform “the user” into a real person who stakeholders and designers alike can understand and relate to.
It’s personally pretty gratifying to hear developers, designers and product managers all asking “why does Audrey need that feature to be successful?”
Matt - Customer Service

Heeeeey…..where did this guy come from?

Published by JB

@uxsuccess Lean User Experience; Agile software development @Tellagence, I believe user success = business success. I talk about that here: Personal blog -

One Comment

  1. I’ve been told that the CISO looks suspiciously similar to Eric Roberts…


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