Saturday, 29 September 2018

Creating the Personas - Imagining the User

Now we arrive at one of the creative aspects of user design. Actually, there is a lot of creativity with user design, and this is one of those aspects: the persona. Basically, this is the creation of a typical user, but not just one typical user, but a whole gamut of them. For instance, let us take the idea of a Stock Trading app. To develop the app we need to know what type of people will be using it. To simply say 'an investor' really doesn't cover everything that we will need to take into consideration. It is sort of like going to a networking event and introducing yourself as 'a computer programmer' or as 'a lawyer' - it says absolutely nothing about your strengths, or what might intrigue a potential client.

So, let us consider some users of this stock market app:
  • The casual investor
  • The broker
  • The day trader
  • The buy and hold investor
  • The bank manager
  • The first time investor
  • The homeless guy that just made a fortune
Okay, there are probably more, but let us look at this list for now. Basically, what we have are a list of people who will not only be using the app, but will be using it for different purposes. The day trader will probably be checking the app every five minutes, while the buy and hold investor might check it daily, or even less often. So, what we need to do is to create personas around these specific individuals, outlining things such as their demographic, their attributes, their domain experience, and their skills. Let pick one, say, the buy and hold investor.

So, first of all, we get a picture and give our persona a name (though we shouldn't base it on a real person as it will taint the process). We then create a description of this person, outlining their general attributes, their knowledge of technology, and any skills that they might have.

Well, where do we get these personas from? Well, remember how we have been talking about usability testing, interviews, and surveys. Well, that is where the personas come from. As we gather information, we get an idea on the various users of our product, and from this information we can then develop an understanding of the types of people who will be using our product. However, let us consider what Greg Bernstein has to say about it:

Now that we know about personas, let us create one, namely Robert, the buy and hold investor:

Robert is 60 years old, and is nearing his retirement age. He has a substantial nest egg which he has invested in a share portfolio. Robert is the state manager of a fast food chain , and while he has an understanding of how business works, he isn't all that up to date with regards to financial products. He regularly uses a computer, since his job requires him to do so, however he only uses it for the basic tasks. He has a laptop that his company has provided, which he also uses as his personal computer. He can use most Office products, as well as simple browsing of the internet. In relation to his investments, he has an idea on how to read financial data, and also how they relate to stock prices, but in many cases he doesn't spend a huge amount of time on it.

Notice how we used a picture. This helps to actually visualise the user that we are creating the app for. Anyway, our next step is to create what is called a 'context scenario', namely a story on how Robert has come to use the app. Now, remember, we are only doing this for one persona, but in reality we will be doing this for all of our personas, and we will be creating profiles for them as well. In fact, with the more research that we do, we might end up combining, or even splitting, personas.

Robert's Share Trade
Robert was in his car driving to the next restaurant that he was inspecting and was listening to the news. The news mentioned that there was a new listing on the stock market, Inghams Chicken. Robert, having knowledge about how popular chicken is in the food industry was quite intrigued and wanted to find out more. He remembered that he had downloaded Stockbuy onto his phone a few days earlier, and decided to check it out. He had already linked it with his trading account, but never had an opportunity to use it. So, he opens the app, and types in Ingham's Chicken. The app produced a screen outlining the stock, and Robert spent some time going over it. He then realised that he could purchase some of the stock on the app, so he went ahead and did so.

These stories, like the one above, basically tell us about how the various personas will use our app. Now, my mistake, being the writer that I am, is to go into a lot of superfluous detail, which we don't need to do. All we need to do is outline how the various personas will use the app, and then work the development of this app around these scenarios. This leads us to the more technical detail which is known as the key-path scenario.

Basically, what we do here is that we take the information from the context scenario and we break it down into a series of steps that the user does, and that the app responds to. This way we are able to develop our app through these scenarios. Once again, they need to be done for all of the scenarios, as this enables us to get an idea of the length and breadth of the app. So, let us consider Roberts stock trade:
  • Robert clicks on the app
  • The app asks for Robert's user name and password
  • Robert enters the information
  • The app confirms that the information is correct and opens the app
  • Robert types 'Ingham's Chickens' into the search bar
  • The app searches the data base and produces all relevant results.
  • Robert presses on Ingham's Chickens
  • The app jumps to the Ingham's Chickens front page
  • Robert peruses the information and presses the finanicals tab
  • The app goes to the stock's financials
  • Robert presses the chart tab
  • The app goes to the chart of the stock price over a year
  • Robert presses five years
  • The app shows the stock price over five years
  • Robert presses on news
  • The app shows various news articles relating to the stock
  • Robert presses on an article
  • The app opens the article in a new screen.
  • Robert reads the article and goes back to the app. He then presses on the buy stock tab
  • The app asks him how many shares he wishes to buy
  • Robert decides to invest a certain amount, so he enters a dollar figure
  • The app converts the dollar figure to a share amount, and asks for a trading password
  • Robert enters his password
  • The app purchases the stock on Robert's behalf.
 So, that is it for personas. Next time we will be looking at prototyping, which is the means of testing the app before the full development takes effect.

Creative Commons License

Creating the Personas - Imagining the User by David Alfred Sarkies is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. This license only applies to the text and any image that is within the public domain. Any images or videos that are the subject of copyright are not covered by this license. Use of these images are for illustrative purposes only are are not intended to assert ownership. If you wish to use this work commercially please feel free to contact me

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