|January 2007 issue (Vol 12, No. 3)
The Persona Lifecycle: Keeping People in Mind Throughout Product Design
Morgan Kaufmann (April 24, 2006), 744 pages
Reviewed by David Dick
If you are involved with designing and developing products and services for people, you know the importance of keeping the user (people) in mind throughout the product design. Designing for the users without involving real users is pointless. If you cannot involve the users, you can imagine them and create a personality to each and every one of them. Welcome to the next frontier for user-centered design: personas. If you want how to create and use personas to design products that people love I encourage you to read The Persona Lifecycle.
The Persona Lifecycle describes the value of personas, and offers detailed techniques and tools to conceive, create, communicate, and use personas to create [great] product designs. John Pruitt and Tamara Adlin provide examples, samples, and illustrations for persona practitioners to imitate and model. It is important to emphasize that the use of personas is a method that compliments other user-centered design techniques, including user testing, scenario-based design, and cognitive walkthroughs.
Personas are not always successful as a design solution, as the authors readily admit. That is why Pruitt and Adlin wrote The Persona Lifecycle : to provide solutions to some of the common problems practitioners have experienced when trying to create and use personas. The book begins with an introduction to personas (Chapter 1), followed by an overview of the persona lifecycle (Chapter 2), and five core chapters (Chapters 3 through 7) that cover the phases of the persona lifecycle.
In addition, the leading usability, Human-Computer Interaction, and customer experience experts have contributed the following chapters to this book:
Each chapter is supported by testimonials from corporate presidents, handy details (important reminders, useful definitions, and a running case study that connects all of the lifecycle phases; and concludes with a summary that revisits key topics to prepare the reader for the next phase of persona development.
What I appreciate about this book is that it is wholly dedicated to the personas. Pruitt and Adlin have been researching and using personas, leading workshops, and teaching courses at professional conferences and universities. They developed the Persona Lifecycle model to communicate the value and practical application of personas to product design and development professionals, and became the inspiration for this book. I should mention that since the publication of this book in April 2006, Steve Mulder and Ziv Yaar have published The User Is Always Right: A Practical Guide to Creating and Using Personas for the Web (VOICES).
If you want to learn the techniques to inject accurate information about real users into the chaotic world of product development, you will find The Persona Lifecycle essential reading and a must have for your library.
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