Sunday, 7 November 2010

Persona podcast - Alan Cooper interview

Alan Cooper is acknowledged as being the inventor of personas as a user centred design approach. In this interview with Gerry Gaffney, he talks about how he came to develop the approach, gives some great tips on their use and rails against the contined existence of poor user experiences.

Cooper is a very experienced developer (the 'Father of Visual Basic' no less) but he comes across as someone who is pretty much disinterested in technology and very much a people person. He's pretty forthright and that's what makes this such an enjoyable and engaging listen.

A few quotes from his chat with Gerry Gaffney:

The thing is that in a world of exciting new technology around every corner, you can really ignore the human problem and just keep wowing people with the new technology. But I don't need a more powerful computer. I don't need a more powerful cell phone. What I need is a computer that doesn't make me feel bad, and a cell phone that doesn't make me feel stupid.

I think people in the software construction business in general are in denial about the responsibilities they have and they find lots and lots of different ways to not do what they need to do, and that's why I'm outraged...

You know that old saying that quality is remembered long after price is forgotten? The marketing people deal with those pricing issues and communicating availability and sales but you can communicate very clearly to people something that they don't want...

The thing about personas is they're not so much things you make as they are things you discover and so if you go out and discover that there's seven personas it means you do not have appropriate focus... ...Personas are not something we make, they're something we discover. You know, Microsoft may create 200 personas for Microsoft Word but that's because they don't understand the process.
Personas and outrageous software - an interview with Alan Cooper by Gerry Gaffney: MP3 download and interview transcript

Alan Cooper has also written a couple of books which this interview has inspired me to investigate: 'About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design' and 'The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Why High-Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity'.

Alan Cooper - Wikipedia profile

Cooper Product Design and Strategy

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