Usability of software is a very important element for users to understand the software. During the development fase, the needs of the users are important for the usability. Involving the user in the development fase is one option to satisfied them. Another option the development team can use is using personas (Cooper, 1999). Personas are fictitious users of a system with real characteristics of the end users. The created persona must come to life from the design team in order to reach the full benefits, so that the goals of the persona are clear and easy to understand for the development team. This technique of using personas is created by Alan Cooper who published this method in 1999 (Cooper, 1999). Using personas ensures that the program or system, that will be developed, is based on the requirements of the users. The goal of using personas is supporting the developer for creating a product that covers a certain goal or needs of the users (Cooper, 1999) (Pruitt & Grudin, 2003).
Creating personas is done by a 7 step methodology. First data must be gathered of the characteristics of the users. This can be done using a survey or holding interviews. The collected data can be processed with the help of a tools called Atlas to output the behavioural variables and make a list of these variables (Juristo, et al., 2008). Secondly the gathered data must be mapped to the behavioural variables. When all the subjects are mapped, it is possible to create groups. The subjects that share behavioural variables can be identified as a group. The groups with the highest percentage are the significant behaviour patterns. These are the source of the personas, which are given a name and a photograph (Juristo, et al., 2008). The identification of the groups and patterns is step 3. Next step (4) is to synthesize the characteristics and create a full description of the personas. When this is created a check on redundancy and completeness can be performed (step 5). It may occur that some additional interviews are required to fill any information gaps. When the information is complete an expansion of the description of the persona can be created. The output of this step is a narrative of each of the personas. It describes a typical day of life of the personas. At least in step 7, the type of the personas will be determined. Prioritizing the personas determines which should be the primary design objective. The primary design objective is just one persona whose needs and objectives can be completely and positively satisfied by a single interface. (Cooper & Reimann, 2003)
In this chapter an example will be described and the steps will be more elaborated.
Company X is planning to bring out a new CRM application to the market. Because of the large competitive market they want to distinguish themselves by having high score for usability. To achieve this they use personas to make a program that satisfied the users. Company X has elected 3 people to be the design team for the personas. 3 months long the design team organized workshops, holding interviews, and spent time observing the potential end-users while working on other CRM systems.
After 3 months of data collection they start looking for behavioural variables. The interviews they hold were mapped to these behavioural variables. After the mapping of the interviews 4 groups occur and these could be had 2 significant behavioural patterns. These two patterns correspond to 2 personas, namely Erik Dijk and Bert Vermeer. The design team attached a photo and age to it to make the personas more credible. The behavioural patterns are formulated as a full definition of the personas with a relevant goal attached. After creating the personas, the design team checked if they had all the info to make a description of a typical day of the personas. In those 3 months they gathered enough information which means that additional interview weren’t required. Therefor they could begin describing a typical day of the personas. After making the descriptions the type of the personas could be determined. Erik Dijk like to have a quick navigation option in the program while Bert Vermeer preferred high operation speed. Because Company X wants to create a CRM application with high score for usability, persona Erik Dijk is more align with the business goal of the company and therefor considered as the primary design objective. (The primary persona: Erik Dijk can be seen in figure 1).
Primary persona: Erik Dijk, The navigation user
Erik (41) is working at company Y as an account manager. He has little to no experience with computer application and get easily lost in complicated systems. He’s currently following a computer course which should make him more familiar with software programs. After 2 weeks of lessons he’s still complaining of the lack of navigation options in the current systems.
Erik like new technology but isn’t very familiar with it. At home he has one desktop pc which he only use for e-mailing. At work is has great knowledge of his customers but of the increasing amount of customers he needs a tool which supports him by storing all the data of the companies customers.
He is using temporally CRM program which isn’t design for large amount of customers. He is trying to use this program but when he menu changes if he goes through the system he’s getting disorganized and frustrated. For example, he likes a menu with solid buttons that doesn’t change when you are in a subpage. He also prefers a navigation button which will take him to and subpage he wants.
- 16 Feb 2012