While no one will readily admit it, most IT organizations do not place nearly as much emphasis on user experience for internal products as they should.
The (often unstated) assumption is that users inside an organization don’t have a choice about whether to use an internal product, so there’s no need to “waste” time on user experience.
That way of thinking is dead wrong.
User experience is important to help people use internal products effectively and prevent the temptation to create workarounds in excel spreadsheets.
Personas can be a useful tool for understanding your users, deciding what kind of notifications and help you provide, and how you go about designing your user interfaces. In some cases, personas can also help you make broader priority decisions about functionality to include or leave out when that functionality can aid, or impede the usability of your product.
This week I’m sharing some resources about personas, specifically resources about how to use personas to guide the type of priority and design decisions I mentioned above.
I should note that when I was searching for resources, most of the posts I found were either explaining how to create personas without much explanation about how to use them once you had them.
There’s another collection of articles talking about how personas are dead and you should use jobs to be done instead. There is certainly some validity to that argument, in the right context. When you are trying to uncover the problem you need to solve with your product, jobs to be done may be a more appropriate approach in many cases.
However, once you’ve settled on who your users and customers may be, personas may have some usefulness after all.
Personas Technique Brief
A persona defines a typical user of a product. They help you understand the context in which people use the product to help guide your design decisions. Personas originated from Alan Cooper’s work on user-centered design.
Why personas fail
Kim Flaherty explores what pitfalls cause personas to fail and how you can avoid and overcome them. Many of the pitfalls she describes impact the use of personas in all types of products, but are particularly relevant when you want to use personas for internal products.
5 ways to use personas in your projects
Neil Turner shares five ways that you can put personas to work when working on your product including: as a starting point for usage scenarios, as extra context for user stories, as characters for your experience maps and storyboards, as a focal point for ideation sessions, and as characters for scenario-based usability reviews. Depending on the nature of your internal product you may find some or all of those applications relevant.
How to use personas in customer-centric web design
Safa Khudeira explains how to use personas to make objective decisions that benefit your customers, and then use those personas to assess the users’ reaction to the various elements of your new website. Many of these ideas are applicable for internal products as well. She explains what personas are, how you can go about developing them, and where they can be useful for web design.
Personas — If, why and how to use them
Many people feel that personas are the ultimate tool for designing user-centered products, while many others argue that the usage of personas is useless or — in the worst case — even misleads design decisions. Julia Roming suggests that figuring out who is right relies on understanding the research method you use to create your personas and how you use them.
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Kent J. McDonald
Founder | KBP.Media