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Writing Persona – a helpful approach to explain technical use cases

Persona is a concept becoming widespread in the modern software engineering design and popularized by Alan Cooper, the developer of Visual Basic. Writing Persona is a technique that helps developers to understand who to develop for. Creating personas helps in making the assumptions about target audience more explicit and share it with external or not technical persons.

Introducing Persona makes the generic and sometimes vague design target of “users” who are capable of anything, to become a specific “person” having specific characteristics. Personas are fictional people but they have names, likenesses, clothes, occupation, families, friends, pets, and possessions. They have age, gender, ethnicity, educational achievement, and socioeconomic status. They have life stories, goals, and tasks. While Personas are fictions people they are based on research applying both qualitative and quantitative methods for collecting and analysing of the information related to eventual users of software.
Personas are richly presented, highly detailed description of the typical user of a product. A Persona is a synthesis of elements drawn from several users who share common job roles, demographics, and user need characteristics.
Personas represent behaviour patterns, not only job descriptions. There is seldom one-to-one correlation between personas and job descriptions. In some cases there will be multiple personas with the same job description; in others, a single persona can represent people with a wide range of jobs. Personas must be context-specific – they should be focused on the behaviours and goals related to the specific domain of a product.

We applied the persona concept in the FP7 European project Handover to model medical trainers in different European countries (Poland, Netherlands, Spain and Sweden). The four personas are based on expert interviews in the various countries and merged to one representative personas per country.
Currently, I’m preparing a presentation for Friday that will address the needs of these personas for a new community portal for medical trainers. Therefore, I will go one step further and create interaction personas thus create scenarios in which the four personas interact with each other. An interesting approach and very useful when you have to disseminate and explain your work to non-technical people!

After a while you just use the name of a persona and all team members have the related personas and their requirements and needs in mind. Just like you talk about a real person.

Here you can find one of our Writing Personas Maria: Writing_Persona_Handover_project_Maria_Spain

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