Meet Elaine: A Persona- Driven Approach to Exploring Architecturally Significant Requirements [InfoQ – Dec 15, 2013] – More often than not, requirements elicited from stakeholders describe a system’s intended functionality but fail to address qualities such as performance, reliability, portability, and availability. Documenting these requirements is often overlooked because there are implicit assumptions that the system will perform to expected levels. Unfortunately, stakeholders and developers might think they are in agreement, when in reality they have very different expectations. Failure to sufficiently understand quality concerns prior to designing a system can result in stakeholder disappointment when the delivered system falls short of expectations and results in costly refactoring to accommodate critical requirements as they emerge late in the process.
Revisiting Proto-Personas for Executive Alignment [UX Magazine – Jul 10, 2014] – As an experience design agency, most of our clients place significant value in understanding user needs. But placing value on user needs and actually meeting those needs is not the same thing. User needs must be balanced with organizational objectives. Many of our clients have evolved so quickly that their original target users aren’t the only (or real) target any longer. We use proto-personas as a way of gaining alignment among our project sponsors and striking the right balance of focus between organizational and user needs. For our purposes, we’ve adapted this process, by Jeff Gothelf, for building and refining user personas at the outset of our client engagements. Conducting this two-session proto-persona exercise has proven to be an effective way of ramping up our team and gaining executive alignment regarding target users. As a collaborative exercise it’s also a great way of breaking the ice in early in an engagement. Using paper and markers to sketch things fosters creativity and levels the field a bit relieving concerns about producing something too elementary to be shared with the group.