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A fable of user-centered design

David Travis has written a booklet that, in a narrative style, tells the fable of a young man's journey as he discovers the secrets of user-centered design.

From the designers that our bright young man meets on his journey, he learns what user-centered design is and how early and continual focus on users and their task, empirical measurement of user behavior and iterative design are the corner stones of user-centered design.

Great for reading aloud for your kids.


  • Download the booklet Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - December 25, 2009 - via Putting people first

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See also: Prototyping and wireframing (119)  Usability testing (68)  User research (23)  The design process (24)  Primers (14) 



Building robust personas

In this UIE Usability Tools Podcast, Jared Spool and Brian Christiansen talk about how to create robust personas based on real-world research. During the podcast, they discuss the following topics:

- What are personas?
- Should your organization have dedicated UX team members for maintaining updated personas?
- Can just one person participate in the persona building process?
- Should you develop scenarios for multiple personas that all fit one task?
- Can you create personas based solely on survey results?
- How do personas relate to Actors and Use Cases from the Rational Unified Process (RUP)?


  • Usability Tools Podcast: Robust Personas Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - November 26, 2007

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See also: Interviews (30)  Audio and video (48) 



Personas are useless when it comes to design

Leisa Reichelt asks "...are personas actually useful or should we stop wasting time and ditch them?"

Her answer is yes, personas are useful, but not to guide design decisions. They are rather a means of establishing a user centred design process and helpful guides during requirement definitions.


  • Yes, you should be using personas Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - April 24, 2007 - via Usability In The News

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When to use personas?

Jared Spool finds that personas are useful, but not in all situations. They are helpful under the following conditions:

- The design team is an actual team with more than a single individual
- The team members are different from their users (which is most of the time).
- The team members do not have constant interaction directly with the users
- Different users will interact with the artefacts differently


  • When Should You Use Personas? Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - January 02, 2007 - via Usability in the News

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Interview with Alan Cooper on personas

UXpod has published an audio interview with Alan Cooper, the guy who introduced personas to the universe of software development. He talks about where the idea of using personas came from, how personas are distilled from field studies, and how personas are used to inform design decisions.


  • Personas and Outrageous Software - an Interview with Alan Cooper Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - December 14, 2006

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See also: Interviews (30)  Audio and video (48) 



The book Communicating Design

Dan Brown has written a book about the art of communicating design. Here's an excerpt of the book description:

"...Dan Brown shows you how to make the documentation you're required to provide into the most efficient communications tool possible. He begins with an introductory section about deliverables and their place in the overall process, and then delves into to the different types of deliverables. From usability reports to project plans, content maps, flow charts, wireframes, site maps, and more, each chapter includes a contents checklist, presentation strategy, maintenance strategy, a description of the development process and the deliverable's impact on the project, and more."

At the time of writing this post, there is no sample chapter. But at Digital Web Magazine you'll find an excerpt from the chapter on competitive analyses.


  • The book at Open link in new window
  • The book at Open link in new window
  • The companion website Open link in new window
  • An excerpt from the chapter on competitive analyses Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - September 18, 2006

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See also: Books (47)  Site and flow diagramming (6)  User research (23)  Usability testing (68)  Prototyping and wireframing (119) 



Scent, Search, and the Pursuit of User Happiness

Jared M. Spool has made his presentation Scent, Search, and the Pursuit of User Happiness available online. Download a MP3 and a PDF, listen to the presentation in its entirety and see all the examples using the presentation handout.

Spool shares practical design strategies from effective web sites and shows:
- How the best teams allocate their resources by focusing on the most important content on the site and how this affects every page
- Proven design techniques, such as persona-based design, to help teams understand what users need from the site
- Why the most effective sites never relaunch, yet manage to always have fresh designs
- How we can utilize the scent of information and how people search for their content to give your site a huge advantage


  • The presentation Scent, Search, and the Pursuit of User Happiness Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - December 09, 2005

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See also: Audio and video (48)  Navigation (63)  Talks and presentations (18) 



Tools for Information Architects

The Information Architecture Institute has a nice section full of tools for Information Architects and Interaction Designers. You will find document and wireframing templates, process maps posters, presentations, introduction brochures, and other tools to help you in your practice.


  • The tools section at IA Institute Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - August 25, 2005

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See also: Tools (106)  Prototyping and wireframing (119) 



Personas and decision-making scenarios

To Shannon Ford, personas are employed to better understand what users want to accomplish and to develop design solutions that help meet the goals and needs of the group they portray. They help avoid the common practice of trying to design for all users.

Personas have their foundation in real people, but are never based on any on individual. They are created to represent a set of characteristics found across many individuals, and are derived from qualitative research with actual users.

The best personas will also go the extra step to describe key behaviors such as a decision making process, an information browsing approach, or a shopping mode - the drivers that affect how people approach a given solution. In her article you'll find a few samples of home improvement customers and their decision-making process.


Henrik Olsen - March 01, 2005

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Personas doesn't have to be rocket science

Many researchers feel that personas (user archetypes) should be very accurate and based on extensive research. Don Norman disagrees with this philosophy. In his opinion, the purpose of personas is to add empathetic focus to the design.

Personas can be created quickly without real data and employed without much background information and attention to detail. As soon as we start discussing products in terms of their impact upon individuals instead of features and attributes of the product, it makes it easier to be human-centred.


  • The article Ad-Hoc Personas & Empathetic Focus Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - November 25, 2004

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