Re: [Usability]Re: GNOME personas

On Mon, Dec 23, 2002 at 07:46:23AM -0700, John Fleck wrote:
> On Mon, 2002-12-23 at 07:32, Calum Benson wrote:
> > On Mon, 2002-12-23 at 13:06, Murray Cumming wrote:
> > 
> > > I guess this is a bit like an "actor" in UML-speak. Without even reading
> > > the book it seems obviously useful.
> > 
> > The hard part, of course, is deciding who GNOME's target audience is (or
> > who we want it to be), which is something we've never agreed upon enough
> > to write it down, so far... so even coming to some consensus on that
> > would be well worthwhile.

I think deciding the various target audiences is not too painful; but
the large number of them is going to make life difficult. We can't
please them all at once and continually designing to solely please one
particular group at the expense of others all the time is less than
optimal. So I forsee some lively conversation when we come up with
various personas that are essentially conflicting in their requirements
and sometimes somebody writes good software that doesn't placate the Joe
Windows User persona. Still, I'll leave my prejudices at the door until
people have read the book and/or the websites Havoc posted.

> Without having read the book yet, and therefore at risk of
> misinterpreting what we're talking about, it seems that the benefit of
> this approach is that it allows us to think about "target audiences"
> (plural) and "who we want *them* to be".

It anthropomorphises them a bit more than just calling them "target
audiences" or even generically "users". One of the thrusts of the book
(which comes through in its case studies near the end) is that if you
personalise the "personas", it makes it easier to design for them.  So
it tries to talk about "Betty (one particular persona) will want to do
this" rather than "users will want to do this". It is ultimately a
mindset thing, though -- if you can think of a unified modelling
language actor or a target audience without succumbing to the temptation
to say "we can't please everybody" then that seems equivalent to what
Alan Cooper (the book's author) is getting at. A persona seems to try
and avoid this syndrome by providing the counterpoint that "you _can_
completely please this well thought-out persona, though".

I read this book a couple of years ago and thought it was reasonably
thought provoking. I'm re-reading it now so that things are fresher when
it comes time to discuss this. The book makes some assumptions that I
don't necessarily agree with, but on the whole I concur with Havoc and
Seth that it would be useful if a few people read it and we discussed
some ideas in a few weeks.


If Barbie is so popular, why do you have to buy her friends?

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