In this interview - full podcast audio and key excerpts as text - Kim also gives her views on whether personas without research data are worthwhile.
I was doing a project just a couple of weeks ago, actually, working with some subject matter experts on an idea for a medical thing, just a little startup company. And so, four of us sat in a room, and we didn’t have data.
The point was to get to some design ideas fairly quickly, so that they could explore feasibility of this idea. And so, it didn’t make a lot of sense for us to go get data, and we said, “OK, let’s build some shared assumptions about the kinds of users we’re talking about.” We came up with what I call provisional personas, which are sort of just sketchy representations of what we think the usage patterns and goals are.I love this approach and totally agree with Kim's view on research. Obviously it's better if personas are based on solid evidence, but I've also worked with colleagues who have first hand experience of working with a target audience but no statistical data to back it up. They've been really good at commenting in trends in types of user. By interviewing several people separately I could spot patterns in what I was hearing and begin the job of identifying key types of user for the group to then refine.
The end result? A group of personas that colleagues involved in the process felt they knew, and a coherent way to communicate with other stakeholders who maybe don't know so much about the target audience.
Seeing the spark of recognition when introducing the personas to others who work with the target audience was really rewarding too. Their reaction reassured me that with these rough personas we were pretty much on target.
Designing with Scenarios: Putting Personas to Work - article by Kim Goodwin for uie.com
Putting personas to work - podcast interview with Kim Goodwin
Full podcast transcript - putting personas to work