Personas Banking Elves & Why Technology Does Not Matter


Real life: Typing on laptop keyboard, talking on the phone and holding baby.
Real life: Typing on laptop keyboard, talking on the phone and holding baby.

Following my ‘Bring Your Personas to Life’ article on Boxes and Arrows (and more recently, this blog) I’ve attracted a lot of criticism and some praise.

I don’t mind stirring debate, but somehow feel that some people assumed the extreme-end of my method.

Infact all I was saying is that a constructive approach to utilising personas can ensure the users needs, goals and scenarios are properly carried out.

Cooper have just released two articles on the topic as well.

In their article on Taking personas too far\’- Kim Goodwin comments:

‘Lately, we\’ve been seeing a lot of gold-plated hammers – unnecessarily elaborate communication about personas – and some fundamental misunderstandings about the relationships among research, personas, and scenarios’.

She recently heard about a Web design agency building ‘persona living rooms’ that are furnished and decorated according to the personas\’ tastes and filled with magazines the personas read. I guess this is an extreme form of method acting, but I agree with Kim that is taking it far too far!

In another Cooper article Chris Noessel says:

‘They (personas) have names, faces, believable back stories, and clearly expressed goals. This is enough to get us to think differently, to adopt the intentional stance that puts our focus in the right place: on the person rather than the system or on the design process.’

I agree with Chris and this is also my intention with method acting- it moves the emphasis away from the designer\’s world and into the world of the user.


My after hours special project has a new homepage placeholder and a logo – check it out.


A few people have asked for an update on my Kiwibank blog and what happened next.

Well, I had quite an entertaining time renewing my home loan.

Kiwibank dropped out of the picture due to my previous experience and it was a competition between the incumbent and BankDirect. I had been with incumbent for well over a decade and emotionally and practically switching to a new bank would take some pretty major incentives…

What ended up happening was a show-off (via a series of phone-calls) where the incumbent would make me an offer and BankDirect would keep undercutting them.

It got to the point where the incumbent started to sound grumpy while BankDirect remained overtly positive and this is what solidified my decision.


So I made my decision to go with BankDirect, rang the incumbent to tell them and was told “you’ll be hearing from our lawyers” (end of phone call).

I actually freaked out a bit because the tone of the person made me feel as though I’d stuffed up and they were going to ‘get me'(infact they just meant the lawyers would be involved in switching the loan).

Anyway, I’m now with both banks but my home loan is with BankDirect and so far I have no complaints.


At a recent Webstock event it was a who’s who of Wellington IT millionaires, startups and treadmill software development shops.

It was good to catch-up with some ex-clients and hear them rant on about the user experience to me (when all those years ago I was ranting about it to them!).

But many of the conversations would still zoom in on the technology topic…

Common questions would be, “So where are you working now?” – followed by – “So, what do you build you software on?”.

My answer typically goes   “I’m technology agnostic – I design for the user first – as far as I’m concerned anything is possible – whenever we have to scale down the user experience it’s only due to time and budget constraints”.

So, Ruby on Rails, Microsoft.Net, Python – “whatever” – when I design I just trust the developers to make it happen and don’t concern myself with the technology platform!


Last week I met with Ray Stephenson and Leon Brown from Microsoft.

They’re the experts for Microsoft Expression Studio – a new suite of web designer and software interaction tools.

While most of the purist Flash designers and hand coders I’ve spoken to have rubbished Expression, I actually think it’s quite a good toolkit which gives you all the basics for user interface design/coding. It comes with a Dreamweaver-like HTML/CSS editor (with nifty visual CSS editing), a vector creation tool and basic 3D modelling.

While my design team will continue to use the Adobe Creative Suite we also intend to get our fingers dirty with Expression Studio – and looking forward to extending further beyond the web browser platform and more into mobile devices, desktop widgets and ‘internet everywhere’ devices. For some insights visit


2007 is lining up to be really HUGE for Provoke.

I’m most exited about a new client who has a website which pulls three million visitors a month – that’s about as popular as TradeMe (but it’s not them – I can’t tell you any more than that!).

I’ve been busy interviewing potential new employees and a few loose ends to tie up, but so far it’s looking likely I’ll be starting with 2 or 3 new people for the Provoke DUX team in 2007!

To 2007 & BEYOND!

I’ll see how I go next week but this might be my last blog for 2006.

Some non-vital statistics:

  • I posted 42 blog articles in 2006.
  • This site currently has 329 unique blog subscribers.
  • There was 1,468 unique visitors last month (excludes search crawlers and subscribers).
  • There was 76,915 unique page visits in the past 12 months – which equates to about 5 pages read per visit (excludes search crawlers and subscribers).
  • Most popular blog – To submit, submit, or submit?

One of my goals for 2007 is to triple my subscribers to 1000.

So… I’d really appreciate your feedback!

  1. What were your favourite zef[a]media blogs this year?
  2. What would you like to see more of next year?

Please post a comment via the speech bubble link at the top of this page – or send me an email).

And here’s wishing you a FANTASTICO Holiday Season!