[Design] how to write personas?

SteveC steve at asklater.com
Fri Sep 16 19:02:35 BST 2011

That's a nice example, but we're being too tactical (in jumping in to 
writing personas without knowing who they are) and it paints a very 
bright picture. If Norman did so well, then why do we need to change 

Step one is to identify the major personas with some data. Perhaps a web 
form shown to some small % of users or some other survey method. Or you 
can just ask Muki.

Then you will have 70% drive-by users, 20% curious people and 10% 
hardcore mappers, something like that. You can further break them down 
until you have 10-20 personas total. Then you bounce those personas off 
the real individuals themselves and check how realistic they are.

The key really is to step back and be a bit strategic and get some data 
on who the users actually are, rather than guessing.


On 9/16/2011 11:55 AM, Matt Amos wrote:
> nice work, everyone, on getting started with the personas (personae?
> antennas? antennae?) [1]. special thanks to gregory - i know it's
> really hard to keep good notes of these kinds of discussions. i had a
> go at writing a persona on the plane back from SOTM and this is what i
> came up with:
> Norman:
> Norman is an extreme ironing enthusiast and sees a mention of OSM in
> his favourite extreme ironing blog. He thinks this is an interesting
> idea, and follows the link to http://www.osm.org/. He finds
> well-written and prominent information about the goals and values of
> the project, and understands that there is a community. Wanting to
> engage further with the community, he finds information about mappers
> and events in his local area. Searching further, he is able to find
> information about other extreme ironing enthusiasts who are already
> members of the OSM community. Norman decides that this is very
> exciting, and wants to become part of the community. He is easily able
> to find the "sign up" process and understands all the steps involved.
> comparing this to what's on the wiki makes me wonder whether i'm Doing
> It Wrong - should personas be short, bullet-point-like, or is it more
> helpful from a design point of view to have (perhaps more of) these
> prose-y, narrative descriptions?
> cheers,
> matt
> [1] http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Design_Mailing_List/OSM.org_Personas
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