How Robust?

I have a lot of respect for Jared Spool – but I almost choked when I received this invite…

Building Robust Personas in 30 Days or Less 

Jared M. Spool

Jared M. Spool, User Interface Engineering

Length: 90 Minutes

Wednesday, November 14, 2007 at 1PM ET (see the time/date in your area)

Price: $129.00 (includes handout)

Register Now

30 days or less?

How much less?

How many personas?

I may just have to register to find out. I’m agape because most of the personas we’ve ever created at Provoke are done within days, let alone weeks or a month.

I’m sure Jared’s own personas are detailed, rigourous and embedded in both qualitative and qantitative analysis. And I expect his clients in the US have massive budgets and timelines and therefore can afford to employ a team of specialists to work on various aspects of the personas.

If you happen to be one of these big rich US companies I’ll even put my hand up now to offer you an awesome "blow your socks off persona set" for around $USD50,000 (+ expenses).

But in a small country like New Zealand (and I’m sure most other countries outside the US and UK), very few companies would have the luxury to spend anything close to 30 days to build personas.

This persona took about 3 days to research and create – pages of research was condensed down to just two A3 sides – making it easily digestable for the project team.
Maybe I’m not comparing apples with apples, but in my view a ‘robust’ persona should take 3 to 5 days. This equates to one day for research, one day for analysis and one day for modelling/creating the persona. Add on project planning, locating interview participants and project management to get your five days per persona.

I have no doubt a user research specialist with academic grounding would poke huge holes in my approach to user research. But I don’t seek perfection, just a sense of reality based on ‘just enough’ research.

The persona should feel realistic – if their characteristics and behaviours sound unreal, then the persona is probably off the mark (unless you can back this with statistics and research).

As you’ll see from my work at Full Code Press a fairly good persona hypothesis can be done in a manner of hours.

And this detailed persona, which we created as part of a larger set for the Department of Labour, took about three days (plus some project management).

This process involved starting with a hypothesis, followed with user interviews (five people per persona), usage observations and an online survey.

Despite my ramblings I recommend you check out Jared’s website and online seminars – some really good stuff on there.

And if you’d like to see a workshop run here in New Zealand on persona creation let me know!

Maybe I’ll call it…

Building ‘Fairly Robust’ Personas in 3 Days or Less