7 Persona Mistakes

Man in hood without face putting hand out to say stopMany UX, Design, and Marketing professionals create and/or use personas. Personas have become so common that some would say that they are over-used.

Should we let go of personas? Should we stop using them?

One of the reasons that personas may be looked down on these days in some design circles is because people are making mistakes in how they create or use them. Below I’ve outlined some of the common mistakes I see around personas when I’m called in for consulting on a client project. And after discussing the mistakes, I offer a suggestion for an alternate tool in your Target Audience Toolbox. First, the mistakes:

  1. Irrelevant information — a persona should only contain information that is relevant and useful to how the persona is going to be used. If you are creating a persona for Zoe, a potential customer opening up a bank account, then it’s probably not important to include how many cats Zoe owns. Don’t conflate trying to make Zoe realistic with what you really need to know and remember about Zoe.
  2. Information that belongs elsewhere —  One of the most important tools to use during design are scenarios — quick small stories of how your target audience will do the most important and/or frequent tasks when your new service or product is available for them to use. Scenarios are so important, that they need to be on their own. Don’t try to include scenarios in your personas. It makes the persona too complicated, and doesn’t do justice to the scenarios.
  3. Too many personas — If you feel you must segment  your target audience into 7 different slots (and I may argue with you about that need), that doesn’t mean you have to create 7 scenarios. You can’t optimize your product or service for 7 different personas at the same time, so don’t even try. Pick the most important 2 or at most 3 and create personas for them. Which brings us to the next mistake…
  4. Using standard “Enterprise” personas — There’s nothing inherently wrong with creating lots of personas that different projects and teams can peruse and pull from to create their project personas as needed. But don’t forget the important step of reviewing and customizing persona before you use it. Enterprise personas should be a starting point. Some aspects of the personas may have changed over time, or not be exactly the same as what is needed for your project.
  5. Not validating personas — There are two basic ways to create personas: a) interview a representative set of real people in your target audience, analyze the data, and then create personas or b) create a persona based from internal data and interviews with internal staff, and then go interview real people to validate the persona. If you do b) you can’t skip the validation step. If you skip it you are essentially creating your product or service for pretend people that might not be like your real target audience.
  6. Creating your personas because it seems to be Step X in your process — Don’t create personas just because it’s listed as a “must do” in your process document. Decide ahead of time why you are creating them and who will use them.
  7. Personas that are basically the same –
    How do you decide whether or not persona A is different enough from persona B that you actually need two different personas?  You look at the critical variables that you have decided on and see if they vary.

Which leads us to the tool you need to have BEFORE  you create personas, and might be the tool you use INSTEAD of personas

When I teach about user research there is a step before I teach personas and that is identifying user groups. A persona is a fictional representation of a user group.

Let’s say that you are designing a banking app. Who is the target audience? You decide that you have three different target audiences. One is people who are already customers of your bank and are used to banking online. Another is people who are already customers of your bank, but are not used to banking online, and the third group is people who are not current customers, but are used to banking online, perhaps with one of your competitors.

The next question to ask is how these groups differ. What are the important criteria that distinguishes one from another? Is it whether or not they are current customers? Is it their familiarity with online banking? Is it something else? Where they live? What their native language is? How old they are? Based on the research you have (hopefully) done, you determine which variables are the important ones that distinguish one group from another.

Let’s say that when you look at your information you decide that whether or not they are a current customer won’t make any difference. That two of the user groups vary only on that one criteria, and your research tells  you that criteria is not that big a deal in terms of using your new app. In that case you can combine those two user groups into one.

A persona then is just a representative fictional person that summarizes one user group. And the persona would summarize them only on the variables that you think are important (i.e., no cats in this case).

But this also means that maybe you don’t need a persona. Here’s a secret — after creating a lot of personas throughout my career I’m going to confess that I don’t use them when I’m designing. I’ve created the user groups first and that’s what I work off of. I only create personas if a) the client asks me for them or b) we need to share this information out to others, such as stakeholders, developers, and so on. In my experience personas are more approachable than “User Group Tables” to people who are not used to them.

In summary, go ahead and use personas, but try and avoid making these mistakes. And if the  personas are just for you, consider using the prequel — the User Group Table — instead.

(If you are interested in learning more you may want to check out our User Research online video course, or our entire UX Certificate Curriculum.)

Calling all Conferences

Midwest UX Conference 2018

The Team W is compiling a list of some of the best User Experience, Human/Tech, Design, and Behavioral Science conferences coming up in 2019. If you have a favorite conference (or if you put on a conference) that you would like to be considered for the list please send:

Conference Name
2019 dates
2019 location
What makes the conference special/the best/a not-to-miss event
Website if available, otherwise a contact person

Send to susan@theteamw.com

We’ll compile the list and post it.

Thanks!

7 Science-Backed Tips To Be More Productive

Whether you work at a job or work at a hobby or work at an avocation, if you are like me you want to be productive. You want to get more done, with less effort, and enjoy it as much as possible.

Maybe not everyone cares about this as much as I do. For me, one of the joys in life is feeling like I have accomplished something worthwhile and useful. And if I can feel energized before, during, and after so much the better.

There’s no dearth of advice about how to be more productive, but recently I set out to find out what I could about the science of productivity. I ended up creating an online video course based on what I learned. Here’s a summary of the science of productivity. See how many of these you currently use:

  1. Work with your own rhythms. We all have our own cycles of work and rest. Whether it is a daily circadian rhythm or a week rhythm or even months long rhythm, observe your own rhythms of when you are at a high work energy and when you are in “rest” mode. Fighting your own rhythm won’t make you more productive.
  2. Break tasks up into smaller steps. When you accomplish a task your brain chemicals change. Accomplishing a step is like a small reward AND it stimulates you to want to start the next task. If you are working on one big long task it takes a long time to accomplish something. If you partition the big task into smaller tasks then you have lots of accomplishments.
  3. Pay attention to the room and furnishings. Set up a place to work that is only where you work. If you have a comfortable and efficient space to work in, and if the only thing you do when you are in that space is your wonderful productive work, then your body and your brain form a habit. Everytime you walk into the “work” space your brain automatically goes into productive work mode.
  4. MInimize multi-tasking. The estimate is that you can lose up to 40% of your productivity switching from one task to another, which is what happens a lot of the time when you are multi-tasking.
  5. Minimize alerts. To make multi-tasking less tempting, turn off automatic alerts and notifications on your computer, laptop, and phone.
  6. Sleep.  The research shows that being sleep deprived makes you less efficient in  your work. Try getting  7-8 hours a night. Napping for 20 minutes during the day can also boost your productivity.
  7. Work with a team. There is a lot of research, from Allport’s study in the 1920s up to research in the present day , that shows that when people work in a team they are more productive and they enjoy the work more. Sometimes working alone can be a good thing, but don’t forget the power of the team.

So there’s seven ideas on productivity that are backed up by science. What do you think?

If you want to learn more, check out the online video course: The Science of Productivity. 

Remembering And Forgetting: An Interview With Author Ylva Ostby


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Why do we remember and forget stuff? In this episode of the Human Tech podcast we talk with Ylva Ostby, a neuropsychologist from the University of Oslo, who, with her sister, Hilde Ostby, has written a book for everyone about memory.


Their book is called Adventures in Memory and is brand new this week.

The best ways to reach Ylva are:

Ylva.ostby@gmail.com

Ylva.ostby@psykologi.uio.no

@ylvaostby on Instagram and twitter

or through their publisher:

Greystone Books: corina.eberle@greystonbooks.com

 

 

Bringing Emotional Intelligence To Machines: An Interview With Pamela Pavliscak


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Do we know enough about human emotions to start building them into our technology? Isn’t human emotion the one thing that differentiates us from machines? What does it mean to build emotional artificial intelligence? These are some of the questions we discuss with Pamela in this episode of the Human Tech podcast.


Pamela’s upcoming book is Emotionally Intelligent Design, and is available for pre-order on Amazon.

The best ways to reach Pamela are:

Twitter: @paminthelab or https://twitter.com/paminthelab
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/pamelapavliscak/
https://www.changesciences.com/
https://soundingbox.com/

A Closer Look At Concession, or “The Foot In The Door” Technique


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Do you want people to say “yes” to a request you make? In this episode of the Human Tech podcast we take a closer look at the original research on concessions and the Foot in the Door technique. We discuss what works, what doesn’t and why.

Here’s the reference for the study we are looking at:

Cialdini, R. B., & Et al. (1975). Reciprocal concessions procedure for inducing compliance: The door-in-the-face technique. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology31(2), 206-215. doi:10.1037/h0076284

Human Tech is a podcast at the intersection of humans, brain science, and technology. Your hosts Guthrie and Dr. Susan Weinschenk explore how behavioral and brain science affects our technologies and how technologies affect our brains.

You can subscribe to the HumanTech podcast through iTunes, Stitcher, or where ever you listen to podcasts.

Change Your Organization By Changing Your Meetings


Cover of the book Meeting DesignMeetings are everywhere. Whether it’s a team meeting at work, or a committee meeting of the local music society you volunteer for, a lot of us spend a lot of time in meetings. How many of those meetings are actually enjoyable, productive, and satisfying?

Forget about the usual meeting hacks you’ve read about (start and stop on time, have a clear agenda and action steps after the meeting, and so on). Kevin M. Hoffman, in his book Meeting Design, goes much further. He approaches the design of meetings as he would approach the design of a user experience, or a product interface.

In this episode of Human Tech we explore how designing meetings can change the team, and perhaps change the organization.

 

 

The best way to reach Kevin is to contact him via twitter:

@Kevinmhoffman

AND Kevin is looking to hire designers and researchers at Capital One in Washington DC area, Chicago, New York, Richmond VA, San Francisco, or Plano TX, so contact him if you are interested.

And check out his book: Meeting Design published by Rosenfeld Media.

Get a Free Social Media Evaluation, Free Social Media Care and Feeding, and Free Advice

Would you like to get FREE advice on how to start and/or improve the social media impact of your organization or brand? And help train the next generation of social media/UX designers?

I am an Adjunct Professor at the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point. Starting in September of 2018 I’m teaching a course on Social Media. From the course description:

“Topics will include: the behavioral science of social communication online, the user experience of social media, legal and ethical issues in social media, and strategies for effectively using social media for growing a business and/or community. Student teams will work on case studies with actual organizations and companies to plan social media strategies, as well as experience the “care and feeding” of social media communities. Diverse applications will include, healthcare, wellness, tech, and non-profits.”

In the class we will use real life case studies. A team of 3-4 students will be assigned to a client. They will perform a Social Media Audit and make suggestions for changes to improve the impact of the existing social media, if any, and suggest changes for adding new social media channels. The teams will also be responsible for the “care and feeding” of one or more social media channels for the case study organization thoughout the semester.

If you have a social media existing channel that you would like evaluated and/or if you would like to start a social media campaign for your organizaiton, then you can apply to be a team case study. If chosen you receive free advice  and you will be helping to train the next generation of social media and UX designers.

What you should expect:

  • You will  spend about 2-3 hours a month for September, October, November and December working with your team. This will be via email, Skype and/or teleconference. You will be speaking with them about your company/organization, your social media goals and giving them feedback on the  advice that they prepare for you.
  • At the end of the semester you will have suggestions for how to start, increase, and/or improve your social media.

Here are the requirements:

  • You have an existing or shortly to be deployed company or organization.
  • You have existing social media accounts and/or are ready to establish new ones. These accounts must work in English.
  • You or a member(s) of your team have time to meet with the team remotely, answer their questions and give feedback in a timely manner.

Here’s what you need to submit in an email to: susan@theteamw.com

  • Your Name:
  • Your Contact Info:
  • Brief Description of the company/organization
  • Brief Description of your current social media use
  • Social media goals or changes if you know them
  • Anything else you think we should know:

Let me know if you have questions, and thanks in advance for submitting your product for a possible evaluation. We will look through all applications submitted and get back to you in early September.

Thanks!

Susan Weinschenk, Ph.D.

How Trust Affects Creative Collaboration


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Control freaks and psychological safety — We brought Eric Olive on the podcast as a guest to talk about the science of decisions and we ended up talking about control and safety. How do you create an environment of psychological safety? And how does that encourage creative collaboration?

Eric has also offered a list of articles and books for more reading which we’ve added below.

You can reach Eric at:

uiuxtraining.com
eric@uiuxtraining.com

Articles

A Leader’s Framework for Decision Making by David J. Snowden and Mary E. Boone HBR November 2007

Fooled by Experience by Emre Soyer and Robin M. Hogarth

Leaders as Decision Architects by John Beshears and Francesca Gino— Harvard Business Review. Structure your organization’s work to encourage wise choices.

“Organizing and the Process of Sensemaking”, Organization Science, vol. 16, no. 4, pp. 409-421.

“The Identification of Solution Ideas During Organizational Decision Making,” Management Science 39: 1071–85. Paul C. Nutt (1993),

“Surprising but True: Half the Decisions in Organizations Fail,” Academy of Management Executive 13: 75–90. Paul C. Nutt, 1999.

Only for HBR (Harvard Business Review) Subscribers

Before You Make That Big Decision by Daniel Kahneman, Dan Lovallo, and Olivier Sibony. Harvard Business Review.

The Hidden Traps in Decision Making by John S. Hammond, Ralph L. Keeney, and Howard Raiffa. Harvard Business Review, January 2006.

Books

A More Beautiful Question by Warren Berger

Beyond Greed and Fear by Hersh Shefrin

Decisive by Dan and Chip Heath

Educating Intuition by Robin Hogarth

Focus by Daniel Goleman

How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer

Intuition at Work by Gary Klein

Nudge by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein

Seeing what Others Don’t by Gary Klein

The Art Of Thinking Clearly by Rolf/Griffin Dobelli

Winning Decisions by J. Edward Russo and Paul J.H. Schoemaker’

 

Human Tech is a podcast at the intersection of humans, brain science, and technology. Your hosts Guthrie and Dr. Susan Weinschenk explore how behavioral and brain science affects our technologies and how technologies affect our brains.

You can subscribe to the HumanTech podcast through iTunes, Stitcher, or where ever you listen to podcasts.

The Intersection of Multitasking, Flow State and Mindfulness on the Human Tech Podcast


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You’ve probably heard (maybe too many times) how multitasking is not a good thing for your productivity. In this episode of Human Tech we share the myths and truths of multitasking and also explore the relationship between multitasking, the flow state, and mindfulness.

In the episode we talk about a video where you can test out your multitasking abilities. Here’s the video:

We also mention our latest online video course, The Science of Productivity if you want to check that out.

Human Tech is a podcast at the intersection of humans, brain science, and technology. Your hosts Guthrie and Dr. Susan Weinschenk explore how behavioral and brain science affects our technologies and how technologies affect our brains.

You can subscribe to the HumanTech podcast through iTunes, Stitcher, or where ever you listen to podcasts.