Tell me about that - personas and storytelling

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Presentation for STC NY Metro Chapter - 27 October 2011

Text of Tell me about that - personas and storytelling

Listening and Telling: The Practice of Storytelling in Modern Times

Tell Me About That

Using stories in interviews & personasWhitney Quesenbery

STC New York MetroOctobr 27, 2011

90 minutesHi!WhitneyUser researcherTheatre designerStorytelling as a way to understand users, their culture, and context in UX designKevin UX designerPerformance storytellerStorytelling as a pivotal part of creation, performance, and the design process

How do we use stories in UX?A human-centred design process4

ISO 9241-210(formerly ISO 13407)Stories are embedded in user experience

Collecting stories tell us about context, goals, peopleThemes and patterns help us understand world viewsDesign tells a new story that changes something about the worldUsability evaluation is a way of trying the story out

Success?We just dont call them storiesUser researchEthnographyContextual inquirySite visitsPersonasAffinity analysisScenariosStoryboardsWireframesPrototypesUsability TestingWalk-throughsAnalytics

Stories add depth to the big pictureShowing activities in context help you understand more clearly when, where and how a product will be used.

Stories are an efficient way to communicate non-functional requirements or user characteristics

Thinking in stories connects similar activities, attitudes, or goals across functions.

Why stories?

Changing a story can change the way we thinkOur experience of the world is shaped by our interpretations of it, the stories we tell ourselves.... so the key to personal transformation is story transformation.Timothy Wilson, author of RedirectMaria Popova, Redirect: A New Way to Think about Psychological Change. The Atlantic, September 9, 2011

Stories create relationships

Stories create connections

What kind of connections do you want to make?A story is created by everyone who hears it

A story is created by everyone who hears it

Is this a good UX story?

Lets talk about what makes a good UX story.Some definitions, that a story has a beginning, middle and an endor Characters, events and resolutionmay be fine for some uses, but they arent all that powerful.Scenarios become stories when we add emotionAs a [role] I can [do something] so that [benefit]

+ Imagery + Emotion + Context + MotivationStories help us explore complex interactions16

Stories are efficientWhat can we learn about Tanner from this short story?Tanner was deep into a Skatepunkz gameall the way up to level 12when he got a buddy message from his friend, Steve, with a question about his homework.

He looked up with a start. Almost bedtime and his homework was still not done. Mom or Dad would be in any minute.

Stories turn a profile into a personaAged 30-4545% married with children65% college educatedUse the web 3-5 times a weekElizabeth, 32 years oldMarried to Joe, has a 5-year old son, JustinAttended State College, and manages her class alumni siteUses Google as her home page, and reads CNN onlineUsed the web to find the name of a local official

Stories start with listeningListening is not a competitive sportIn many cultures, we are chronically under-listened-to

Be an appreciative listenerGive them your full attentionAcknoweldge what you hear, non-verballyGive the person time to think as well as talkDont rush the end sometimes people have one last thought20On your ownPractice really listening:

Find a partnerAsk them to tell you about somethingperhaps something that they are proud of, or a difficult event.Let them talk for 2 minutesJust listen. Give them your attention. Dont interrupt them. Just let them talk. Then switch.Share what you learned about the experience of being really listened to.Listen (and watch) for juicy tidbitsStories you hear from more than one sourceStrong detail and actionDetails that illuminate other user data or analyticsStories that contradict common beliefsSimple, clear, and compelling


Stories and UX starts with listening (& observing)In all of your user research, make time for stories

Go beyond basic questionsAsk about context: when, where, why (not just how)Find out what they want to tell you

Just say tell me about that


Who can you hear the best stories fromPeople with no connection to your company who work in the context your product supportsPeople who match the demographics of the target users, and who have similar domain experiencePeople who recently worked in the domain and are still close to the jobPeople in your company who work with your product in the fieldTrainers, technical support personnel, and others who support users in the field Subject matter experts who do not work in the domain

23BestWorstPersonas and storiesPersonas let you explore situations and ideasThe persona as a character provides perspective

The relationships create the context

The imagery suggests emotional connections

The language can suggest the voice of the persona Personas represent groups of storiesSimilar goals, beliefs, attitudes

Similar ways of engaging in the activity

Similar personal characteristics

Shared stories

Navigates easilyThe web saves me time

Visits a lot of different sitesUses e-commerce

Mistrustful of info onlineLeaves a site quicklyNo-nonsense. Doesnt like cute

Very deliberate approach to webTakes notes as she worksUses search Likes to print long pages to read and saveHealthcare example

MelissaInfoSeekerLauraCaregiverElizabethExpertI dont like to go backwards to go forwardsGoals:Looking for new information

Typical Questions:What is ?Am I at risk?Top Usability Need:Engaging - I can tell Im in the right place by the amount and level of information RisksCurious - needs to be drawn in. Little sense of site loyaltyI want to know how to help my husband

Goals:Looking for helpful informationTypical Questions:What do I need to know about it? What are the next steps I should take?Top Usability Needs:Effective - I need resources, and the right informationRisksNeeds information she can act on

Goals:Information I can useAnswers to specific questionsTypical Questions:Tell me something newI want the latest!I need information.Top Usability Needs:Efficient: Give me a search box and Ill tell you exactly what I wantRisksAlready knows the basicsI dont stay on a site long if nothing jumps out at meStories organize data in memorable waysPersonas not only organize data and facts, but help us recognize the persona as someone we can empathize with

Stories organize facts in recognizable ways.Just LIke Me - Determining Eligibility Online with Personalized Narratives - Thea van der Geest and Lex van Velsen, UPA 2010

Crafting storiesUX stories have a purposeMeeting the usersIllustrating user needsPoints of painBrainstormingSuccess storiesDesign explorationEvaluation task

Points of pain show a problemTen minutes is not enough. Thats Tanners opinion about the time limits on using the computer at school.

Last Friday, he started working on a geography assignment and look up some information about the animals in Africa. He had just gotten started when his turn on the computer was up. Hed like to work on it over the weekend, but cant access the school library. He prints out a few things, and figures he will retype what hes done when he gets home.

What a bore.

33These stories create a vivid view of the problem from the point of view of the persona. Springboard or brainstorming storiesWhen Tanner comes home from school, he logs on to the web site and collects the essay he began during study period in school. He usually isnt allowed to play games on the computer until he finishes his homework, but he tells his mother, this is my homework.

34A short and compelling story, both illustrating a dilemma and hinting at the way out. They may be the spark of a new innovation, or based on an anecdote from user research. Stories are not a detailed task analysisFocus on the storyEstablish the scene with imageryWhats the time-frame? Whats the emotional context

Think about the personas perspectiveHow do they see the events or interaction?What words do they use? Style of language?What are the boundaries of the story from their point of view? (Hint: it might not be your product!)

Dont use the story to describe all of the details in the user interface.35Story structures help you shape the meaningJourneys show obstacles overcomeA heros journey

Framing structures create contrast Us- Them - UsHere - There - HereNow - Then - Now

Stories can communicate mood or contextLayered imagesContextual interlude 36Who is the hero of the story?37

Choose your perspective38Third PersonSecond PersonFirst PersonStory is told about someone, looking at them from the outsideStory is a conversation between the storyteller and anotherpersonStory is told from the point of view of the main characterForexample:A UX person telling stories about how several different people responded to a prototype.

Persona stories, especially if there is more than oneFor example:Feedback to a participant or other stakeholder,

Interviewing a persona

Talking directly to users of a productFor example:AUX person telling the story of their own reactions.

Retelling a story from the point of view of the original experience.Maintains a distance between us and themCreatesa direct connection and invites the other person to respond.Invites the audience to lookat the story through the eyes ofBecome the personaFirst person

You represent the persona and tell the story from their point of view. Lets you get into the head of the story39InformanceRepresenting an idea by acting in order to tell, explain