Personas to guide your design process

The atmosphere was very relaxed and lively at the EXPO. At this exposition students from the faculty Art Media and Technology (Utrecht school of the arts) presented their graduation projects. There were fun and innovative things. One group designed an INStable. A table that shows how often each of the persons sitting there, talks in comparison to the others. Another group made a tool to facilitate the working process of a multi disciplinary design team. They used a method of goal directed design that was developed by Cooper. What I found particularly interesting was the use of personas. It is a method used by software designers but I see opportunities to apply it in other design processes as well (e.g. the design of learning programmes). This is how it works: you define different characters that represent users of your product. Each person in the team 'is' one of these characters. When making decisions about the design, you don't say 'well, I think we should make an extra module here..' but you look at it from the perspective of your character (you are the character): 'Jennifer would definitely need some extra support here, it would make her, being a starter in the field, insecure having no...'. I think this method could help in design to:

  • focus
  • come up with new ideas
  • make decisions based upon future users instead of on a particular designer's preference
  • stand strong when you come up with a radical new solution for something

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