Brugen af personas hos danske virksomheder – 2012/13

En rapport om hvordan virksomheder anvender personas

Denne rapport er skrevet på baggrund af et projekt initieret og finansieret af InfinIT – Innovationsnetvørket for IT.

Formålet med projektet er at undersøge hvorledes personas i dag etableres, kommunikeres, anvendes og vedligeholdes i forskellige typer af virksomheder samt etablere et opdateret søt af anbefalinger for deres anvendelse. Virksomheders erfaringer med personas vil blive adresseret fra to forskellige vinkler:. Fokus vil bl.a. vøre på hvordan personas udvikles og vedligeholdes, om og hvordan de bruges, og hvad de bruges til.

Personas er beskrivelser af fiktive brugere og bruges i designprocesser. Beskrivelserne er skabt på baggrund af data indsamlet om slutbrugerne. En samling af personas, som regel mellem 2 og 6 beskrivelser, vil i denne rapport benøvnes et personasøt.

Når personabeskrivelserne indgår i designprocessen bruges de til at få ideer til og beskrive, hvordan brugerne vil anvende et nyt produkt. Disse beskrivelser kan antage mange forskellige former, de kan vøre fortøllinger, use cases, eller tidlige sketches eller prototyper. Vi vil i denne rapport kalde dem for scenarier.

Rapporten er udført af Lene Nielsen, lektor IT Universitetet, København (ITU) og forskningsassistent Kira Storgaard Nielsen, ITU.

Rapporten er skrevet på baggrund af 18 interviews med 28 personer foretaget i 13 virksomheder i december 2012 og januar 2013.

Persona-metodens paradokser

Articleed March 12th, 2016 | Lene Nielsen | Personas (DK).

Tirsdag den 8. marts var der gå-hjem-møde om co-design af personas på IT-Universitetet i København, arrangeret af Center for Persona-forskning- og Anvendelse og InfinIT.

 En af udfordringerne ved at lave personas er at få dem gjort trovørdige og genkendelige for både brugere og udviklere, og her kan co-design – hvor de virkelige brugere er med til at designe personaerne – afhjølpe problemet.

Dagens talere var Daniel Gonzalez-Cabrero (ph.d-studerende ved University of West London), der fortalte om sit arbejde med co-creation af personas i Namibia, og Charlotte Albrechtsen (brugerinddragelseskonsulent i Tovejs), der delte ud af sine erfaringer med co-design af personas.

The use of personas in Danish companies – part 2

A global challenge

When creating persona descriptions the companies who have an international target group find the international perspective challenging.

V8: “One is from Frankfurt am Main, one is from Poland, and one is from Norway. […] we had actually decided that we want personas from around the world in order to create a broad representation of users and touch points. Whereupon we asked the question: “Do we need personas from around the world?” to our reference group. They were of the same opinion, because it makes sense as we sell to everywhere in the world [ …] the countries were not chosen coincidental, they were chosen because of their substance – if they were representative, if they covered a lot of countries.”

The specific international differences that are perceived as relevant are:

  • IT competences
  • Access to Internet
  • Language abilities
  • Differences in company autonomy/managerial responsibilities
  • Level of education

It is specifically mentioned that there is a difference between the Western and the Asian users and that the interviewed find it difficult to get data and create personas for Asian users.

Data 

Those we interviewed that work in companies with an international target group describe it as a challenge to get enough data to covers all markets. They try to deal with the challenge by collecting data from different parts of the world, but none had data from all markets.

Persona descriptions

In relation to the persona descriptions there are further challenges in having a broad and international target group. The companies applied two different strategies to solve the challenges.

  • To develop descriptions where each persona represents users from a specific country (e.g. a Finn, a Pole). Sometimes with additional information that some types of personas are more predominant in some countries than others.
  • To develop persona descriptions that are so general that they cover a lot of countries.

Some companies try to combine the two strategies by dividing the persona description into an overall part and a part that specifies the national differences.

The international perspective could be seen by strategies that used names and photos to indicate international differences and similarities, such as:

  • English names are perceived as international and the personas get names such as  Anna, Elizabeth, or Robert in order for them to cover for a broad international group.
  • The personas have specific national names in order for the reader to be able to deduct the nationality from the name, e.g. Finnish, Polish, or German sounding names.
  • The photos that accompany the descriptions and are to illustrate the persona are either of general European look, they can be blurred, or cartoons in order for the reader not to be able to deduct national characteristics.
  • Or the photos represent different types: e.g. an Asian, an African, a Westerner.

Advantages of using personas when working in international teams 

The method is perceived as having even more advantages when development happens across languages, departments, and countries compared to development in an internal and national setting. For international teams the method provides a common point of reference and a common understanding of the users and their needs. At the same time the method hinders project participants in using their own local experiences.

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This example of an international persona is from the Royal Library, here the name indicates nationality. Read all descriptions here: http://www.europeanaconnect.eu/documents/M3.2.3_eConnect_PersonasCatalogue_update.pdf 

JUKKA

Keywords: thorough, passionate and interested in technics

Personal:
Jukka is in his mid 40’es and works at a university as an ethnomusicologist. He is divorced, has no children, but about to marry his  girlfriend, who he met two years ago on one of the conferences he  frequently attends. He is very good at all sorts of electronic devices and likes to keep up on the newest smart phones and tablets. He is heavily into online social networking and keeps a weblog about his fields of interest. In his current job he works with automated music analysis of Hindustani classical music.
He is member of the society for ethnomusicology and has previously held a position as a visiting professor at the University of Mumbai.
Jukka has always been technically skilled. 30 years ago, he helped his parents and family with setting the clock at the VCR, while he played with his Amiga 500 – now he installs anti-virus programs, configure email accounts and upgrade operating systems. He has a naturally skill for it, but is not afraid to consult the manual if something doesn’t work for him. He even once used 14 evening to write a small weather app for smart phones just for the fun of it.

Interest:
Jukka’s main interest is Hindustani classical music (wich was also the topic of his PhD thesis and main field of research). He travels several times a year to participate in music festivals and conferences related to his job. He always looks for concerts in the towns and countries he visits. He spends most of his free time doing things related to his passion for music and to his job, and it is difficult for him to separate job and spare time. He is part of both professional and social networks related to his interests and job, together with a lot of friends and contacts.

Hvad er forskellen på personas og segmenter?

Jeg har ofte fået spørgsmålet om man ikke kan lave generiske personas, der kan bruges på tværs af projekter, men for mig er tanken om at lave generiske personas, den samme tanke der ligger bag segmenteringer.

Segmenter såsom Kompas, Minerva, Hofstedes kulturelle inddeling og Jungs typologier, har det tilfælles at det er måder at forstå verden på. De har et teoretisk udgangspunkt som grundlag for deres inddeling af verden, men det forhindrer ikke at de kan anvendes på tværs af indholdet i det enkelte projekt; uanset projektet så kan jeg vælge at anvende Minerva som udgangspunkt for min forståelse af målgruppen, eller jeg kan bruge Hofstede til at forstå hvordan websites skal designes til forskellige kulturer.

Personas adskiller sig fra segmenter ved i hvert enkelt tilfælde at indtænke den specifikke kontekst som det system eller det site man arbejder med, skal bruges i. Det er det jeg kalder for designområdet. Når man indtænker designområdet, så indtænker man også at det er en form for system der skal produceres, og når man tænker på brugeren i designområdet, så opstår der nogle behov hos brugeren som systemet skal opfylde.

Når vi arbejder med personas, så ved vi som udgangspunkt ikke, hvor mange personas vi skal ende med. Det kommer an på designområdet, hvis det samme system skal bruges i et nyt designområde, så kan det betyde at man bliver nødt til at lave nye personas.

How can Personas be useful for developers??

Christina Braz asks:

I have just finished to read your article about personas on the Web. Although I agree with your statements I still have a question in my mind: How do Personas can be useful for developers?? You provide personas in order to developers start to develop an application. I am in the process of developing personas for a new security application and I have heard from someone else a quotation from one of our developers: “I don’t care about personas at all. I simply don’t use it.”

Christina Braz | Senior Software Engineer, UXD Team |

Answer: Most developers are not involved in the decision about using the personas and do not know how to use them. To put personas posters on the wall or quotes on mugs are just not enough.

In my experience what do help is to let the developers experience the strength of method when a persona description is put in action in a scenario. I do scenario workshops with the developers. In the workshop they learn to use the personas and they experience how thinking about personas gives them new insights for system demands and requirement specifications. Finally we talk about how they can move from the scenario descriptions to e.g. use cases or how they can use personas in their use cases.
So the short answer is Training and experiencing clear the way.

Chapter about Personas on InteractionDesign.org

The persona method has developed from being a method for IT system development to being used in many other contexts, including development of products, marketing, planning of communication, and service design. Despite the fact that the method has existed since the late 1990s, there is still no clear definition of what the method encompasses. Common understanding is that the persona is a description of a fictitious person, but whether this description is based on assumptions or data is not clear, and opinions also differ on what the persona description should cover. Furthermore, there is no agreement on the benefits of the method in the design process; the benefits are seen as ranging from increasing the focus on users and their needs, to being an effective communication tool, to having direct design influence, such as leading to better design decisions and defining the product’s feature set (Cooper, 1999; Cooper et al, 2007; Grudin & Pruitt, 2002; Long, 2009;Ma & LeRouge, 2007; Miaskiewicz & Kozar, 2011; Pruitt & Adlin, 2006).

Read more at: http://interaction-design.org/encyclopedia/personas.html

The use of personas in Danish companies part 3

Changes and similarities in the application of the method

Even though this survey was done as independent research with interviews in 12 core companies, it is interesting to compare with the previous study done in 2009 to see if there are changes in the application of the method

Before doing so it is important to stress that the surveys are different in focus, they have different questionnaires, and the previous survey did not include questions on personas in an international perspective.

More companies use personas

Comparing the surveys it is evident that more companies have used the method for a longer period of time. Still most common is to have used the method between one to four years, but at present more companies have used the method as long as up till ten years.

In the 2013 survey all interviewed companies have participated in developing personas this is different from the previous survey as here more companies had personas entirely developed by consultancies. In the 2013 survey some companies had consultancies or business partners help them in the personas development process, but they had all partaken in the process or done the entire work in-house.

It spreads in ever-widening circles

A new trend in using personas is a chance in the companies systems developing method and more mention that they started using personas when they began to develop using agile methods. Common in the surveys are that most interviewed mentions positive experiences from their own network as the reason why they started using the method.

Level of satisfaction

There is no difference in how satisfied the companies are in using the method and the benefits the method provides in the different surveys. The mentioned benefits are that it provides a common language to describe the users and their needs. Only one disadvantage is mentioned and that is that the method is expensive and time consuming.

Challenges 

The challenges differ amongst the two studies: in 2009 the main challenge was to make the method visible in the organisation. This seems no longer to be a problem some companies even report that they have difficulties in keeping up with the organisation’s demand for personas. Even though it was difficult to make the method visible in 2009 personas were mainly positively received. In 2013 it is no longer a problem to create awareness and focus on the method, but it happens that it is met with resistance from either management or colleagues.