Re: [Usability]GNOME personas

Really, really, read the book. At worst it'll give you some insight into
the sort of crack I like to smoke (and maybe give you some ideas on how
to best contain me), at best it will change your opinions about how
software should be written. 

I do think its fair to provide a caveat: Alan Cooper is not god, and I
as well as a lot of other interaction designers think a few of his ideas
are flakey. A bible on interaction design the book ain't, but it is a
good layman's introduction to interaction design, more interesting to
read than other works I know of on the subject, and most importantly,
fairly convincing. 

Plus, since we intend to at least experiment with Cooper's personas, you
might as well get it from the horses mouth ;-) Cooper's personas are
only one of hundreds of techniques for achieving the goals of
interaction design. While I don't think they're the best design tools in
an "ideal world", I think personas do the best job of functioning within
a system that is not already design driven (which GNOME is about
opposite from). Also, they retain more "bazaar" qualities than most
other interaction design techniques because they don't involve a lot of
jargon or require a ton of background knowledge. 

If you already buy the party line, an altogether less convincing but
more detailed exposition of the techniques and theory of interaction
design can be found in the text-book like "Interaction Design" by
Preece, Rogers et al.

For the lazy and wealthy, "Inmates..." can be purchased at:
Barnes & Noble: (used): "marketplace" (other vendors, new & used):

For the honest hard-working poor, try a library ;-)

New, "Inmates.." will cost about 20$ + S&H, used, about $13 + S&H. If
you're an established GNOME hacker and can't afford this, I might be
willing to buy you a copy because I think this is so important to GNOME.
But do note that I am a poor unemployed student who takes out thousands
of dollars in loans each quarter, so I'd rather this not be abused.


On Sat, 2002-12-21 at 17:58, Havoc Pennington wrote:
> Hi,
> I just finished "The Inmates Are Running the Asylum" by Alan Cooper,
> and was talking to Seth about it. The book proposes a specific
> methodology using "personas" for judging and arriving at UI designs.
> Both of us think this might work well for GNOME because it's pretty
> straightforward and pretty concrete.
> There are a lot of details, so I thought I'd send out this mail and
> encourage people to find the book if they have some downtime over the
> holidays. If lots of people read the book we can all have a common
> frame of reference for discussion in January.
> Here are a bunch of links on the subject I found in google, but I
> think the book is better-written, more interesting, more entertaining,
> and will give you a clearer idea of the suggested approach than
> reading all this stuff. The book is fun to read and these links are
> mostly boring, in other words. So I'd get the book.  But if you can't,
> here are some links:
> Anyhow, the end result if we do this will be to have mini-profiles of
> a few fictional people posted on And for every
> new feature we'll ask if it is good or bad for those people. For
> setting priorities, we'll ask how we can help those people most. etc.
> In short we'll have three concrete people in mind that we're writing
> GNOME for. Could give us a lot of focus and direction, and a more
> objective way to say which ideas are good and which are distractions.
> So I propose that everyone who's interested try to read about this
> topic over the next couple weeks, and once we all have enough
> pseudo-expertise to be dangerous, we start trying to sort out who
> we're writing GNOME for.
> Havoc
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> Usability gnome org

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