Re: [Usability]GNOME personas

On 21Dec2002 08:58PM (-0500), Havoc Pennington wrote:
> Hi,
> 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.

Hi Havoc,

The very first link you mentioned warns against reusing a persona
intended for one application in the design for another, as their use
is extremely context-specific. So it sounds like picking three
personas for all of GNOME, as opposed to a specific piece of GNOME, is
missing the boat.

Overall, the "personas" design methodology seems geared towards fairly
purpose-specific applications, where about three archetypes can
capture most of the interesting differences in needs and use
patterns. Some of the examples cited are a contact manager and a
calendar/scheduling program.

But applying this to something as broad as the whole desktop, or even
a very general purpose application like a mail client or a file
manager, seems misguided. After all, unless one of your three personas
for GNOME is "highly technical UNIX user/programmer/sysadmin", you
wouldn't even have a terminal program. And if that *is* one of your
archetypes, that doesn't leave a lot of room for the other two to
represent the goals of the remaining 99.999% of the human race.

If GNOME aims to be a general-purpose desktop rather than aimed at a
fairly narrow user community, I don't think this methodology will work
out very well. You could apply it to one app at a time, but not really
to the desktop as a whole.



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