Avoiding Bullshit Personas: A Case Study
Bad personas can make your skin crawl. The ones that offer no real insight into an audience and play make-believe with random facts are not useful in any context. Good personas theoretically inspire and guide innovation, but like any good story, it's difficult to create relatable characters. This session outlines a project where we developed five nameless personas for lynda.com.Our method uses no names, psychology, or broad habits. The philosopher Harry Frankfurt explained, "it is impossible for someone to lie unless he thinks he knows the truth. Producing bullshit requires no such conviction." We removed the things that didn't matter even if they were true from our personas. We communicated the major distinctions across the personas so lynda.com could immediately understand the lifetime value of their site to customers. In this session, we go over how we identified and eliminated the B.S. that creeps into personas, and how we made a video instead of the traditional paper approach.
Jill Christ is a Senior UX Researcher for lynda.com, where she works closely with agile teams to inform product roadmaps and design decisions. She loves running iterative prototype testing, contextual interviews, and remote and unmoderated studies, as well as creating lean and innovative solutions. In the last two years, Jill spoke at the 2010 IA Summit and the Santa Barbara UX Meetup, and contributed to Johnny Holland's Radio Johnny Podcast, and the Follow the UX Leader blog. She also loves running marathons, and training in beautiful Santa Barbara with her speedy husband.
Stephanie is an expert in behavior change methodologies and persuasive technology, and works currently at Bolt Peters as a user experience researcher and designer. She has worked in ethnography in many capacities, as a designer at a Bay area medical device incubator, ExploraMed, as an urban planner at Boston area architectural firm, Goody Clancy, and as a resident naturalist for a nonprofit in the jungles of Peru. As a graduate of Stanford’s Design Program, her MFA research and design thesis investigated disease and epidemics with a focus on obesity and odors.