PERSONAS

October 29, 2009

3101856879_249e7d9a06_bUser research. Flickr.

This is a reading response to Personas: Practice and Theory by John Pruitt and Jonathan Grudin from the book Design Studies.

“Personas are a medium for communication; a conduit for information about users and work settings derived from ethnographies, market research, usability studies, interviews, observations and so on.”

Call it what you will: user archetypes, market segmentation, user role definition, user profiling, fictional charaters: this article hails the importance of all designers and developers having a detailed understanding of human behavior. Designers often have a vague or contradictory sense of intended users, and may base scenarios on themselves. I do this all the time. I often find myself making work that I’d use and like, but this only goes so far. Developing personas can “amplify the effectiveness of other research methods.” As designers, the act of creating personas can help us make our assumptions about our target audience more explicit.

550438755_29c4e3d16aLittle stand-up personas. Flickr.

Though there’s nothing more boring than reading about the development of MSN Explorer, this article was valuable to me. It encouraged me to think more critically about my audience. I must be more willing to take myself out of the picture from time to time and realize that not all consumers of my design are white, 20-something middle-class hipsters from Portland, Oregon.

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