The Least You Can Do, If You Don’t Have Personas

Jef Raskin wrote in The Humane Interface, that the first step to meet the need for user or customer-centered design is to get to know your users. How do you get to know your users?
Alan Cooper introduced Personas. In his book, About Face 3, he wrote “Personas are user models that are represented as specific, individual human beings. They are not actual people but synthesized directly from observations of real people.
Why is it good? Because of its unique aspects as user models. Alan cooper continued : “They engage the empathy of the design and development towards the human target of the design.

Most of the time, these observations to create personas take time and costly. So, what if you don’t have much time and money to do the observations? Can you still benefit from creating Persona that’s not based on observations of real people?

Here’s the least you can do if you don’t have real personas-personas suggested by Alan Cooper: Change the ‘user’ term that your team use in any discussion, with a name.
Yes, start with a name.

Instead of saying “What if the user wants to save the work?”, use “What if Bruce wants to save the work?”
Many times, when someone uses ‘user’ term, actually that refers to himself. By giving that user a name, you get your first advantage: you started to be less subjective.

Secondly, it’s easier to develop a scenario, it will come naturally.
When you say “This user will send the work to another user”, it’s quite hard to imagine that those two users are different people, and it becomes worse when you have another person: “So this user, and his friend, and another user…”
Once you give a name to each person, the scenario will look like a real life scenario, and it’s easier for you to imagine the situation: “Bruce sends the work to his friend, Peter. Then he remembers that he has to include Ken in the discussion. He forwards the work to Ken with some additional notes.”

When you give a user a name, it’s hard not to think about his age, at least by category: Kid, Teen, Young Adult, Adult, or Elderly.
So you got a name, a gender, and an age range. It’s not as complete as it should be, but you’re less subjective now: you start to think from users’ point of view. That’s a good start for a user-centered design process.

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