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Module Title: User Centred System Design and Evaluation


This assignment is an INDIVIDUAL piece of work that is split into two parts:

In Part 1

you are required to solve the design problem set out below using the following user centred design techniques:

• Personas

• Scenarios

• Storyboards

• Prototyping

The form of submission will be a document containing all the artefacts listed above and a video presentation of up to 10 minutes.

In part 2

you are required to reflect on, and critique, one method from the design process.

The form of submission is a written report of 500 words.

Tasks and Submissions:

THE BRIEF: You are required to design a prototype application to assist elderly people staying in contact with their family during a COVID lockdown.

Part 1:

Design work (submitted as a document)

Design work – you need to provide the following artefacts in this document.

• 2 personas related to the design brief

2 scenarios (1 for each persona)

• 2 storyboards (1 for each persona)

• Prototypes (evidence of prototypes – these could include sketches, wireframes, mock-ups)

Part 2:

Project report (500 words) carries 30% of the mark for the assignment, and it consists of a critique of one of the design methods used.

• Using academic literature to support your arguments, write a critique of ONE user centred design method that you employed during the design process (personas, scenarios, storyboarding, prototyping). Introduce the method, consider how the method contributed to your design solution, and, the benefits and drawbacks of using the method in the design process.

Persona Creation and Usage Toolkit
George Olsen
30 March 2004
This toolkit provides resources for a variety of situations. Pick and choose what’s appropriate for your’s.
My goal is to enable you to use personas in several ways:
Allow you and your team to live and breathe your users’ world as if they were a close friend or
part of the family.
Allow you as a designer to filter out your own personal quirks (or those of real users that you
interviewed) and focus instead on behaviors and motivations that are typical of a broader range
of users, while still being able to relate to users as individuals.
Use this knowledge to make better decisions at the strategic level of matching the product’s focus
and purpose to users needs and goals.
Use this knowledge to make better design decisions at the tactical level of how functionality,
content and sensory elements are structured and presented.
Use it as a tool to make the design trade-offs that are inevitable in any product’s development.
To achieve these goals, the toolkit enables you to build up detailed profiles of the personas themselves,
their relationship to the product, and the context in which they use the product. The intended user of the
toolkit is the product’s designer, so it’s it advisable to streamline the personas to critical aspects when
presenting them outside the product development team. Even within the development team, not everyone
may need every single detail about the persona.
When developing personas, precision is more important than absolute accuracy for many aspects – at
least for the first two uses. For the latter three, it’s often important to be more accurate about things
related to the behavioral interaction with the product. But if necessary, it’s better to take a best guess
than omit something important.
Note: When I refer to “product,” this could be a Website, software application, physical product or service.
Note: This is a work in progress, since it’s a tool I’ve built in response to various projects over the years.
If you have suggestions on how to improve it, please let me know.
Thanks to Robert Reinman for his excellent descriptions of the first two ways of using personas. Posting on
the Interaction Designers Discussion mailing list http://www.interactiondesigners.com 02 February 2004.
Sources for Persona-building Information
Ideally, personas should be based on interviewing and direct observation of users. But you may also get
useful information from these alternate sources, which can also be used when contact with users isn’t
possible. However, handle information from these sources with extreme care – it’s not the same thing as
dealing directly with users.
User Surrogates
Domain experts – Can often identify what might be valuable to users, how users might do a
particular task, etc.
Trainers – If they’re having trouble teaching it, it’s probably the product’s fault.
Immediate supervisors (for internal applications) – You’ll need to find out about how much they
actually hear from their employees about the task or product in question. In the best case, they
may have a broader view of issues with the product that complements that of individual users.
Informants and Interpreters
Marketing – Usually better at understanding a product’s functional or brand issues than user
experience issues.
Sales – The best sales people can be quite helpful since they work hard to understand customer
needs, but sales people tend to have a “more features are better” mentality that needs to be
taken into account. Also, customers may not be the people who actually use the product.
Customer/Technical Support – Often overlooked, but every day they hear about where the
product has problems.
Documentation specialists – If they’ve had difficulty communicating how to use the product,
there’s probably a trouble spot.
Personas creation/usage toolkit
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Copywrite 2004 George Olsen
Indirect Sources
Look for where the instructions fail to match how the work actually gets done.
Look for user-created cheat sheets – a sure sign of problems.
Derived data – Gotten from records or info collected for other purposes.
Traffic logs
Tech support/help desk logs
Customer feedback forms
Items that users create or use as part of what they’re doing – look for things that
indicate the reveal the assumptions, concepts, strategies and structures of the artifact
itself that guide the people using them.
Questionnaires, surveys, focus groups, etc. – Be sure to pay close attention to how the questions
are posed. Also, group dynamics can seriously distort focus groups.
Ersatz Users – Handle with care, because they often don’t know as much as they think they do.
Buyers – those who sign checks but don’t actually use the product
Upper-level managers – Often they need to be listened to, but they frequently know less about
customers or internal processes than they think they do. In fact, a Product Development and
Management Association study on product development best practices found senior executives
backed product launch failures more than half the time.
Based on “Software from Use,” Larry L. Constantine and Lucy A.D. Lockwood, 1998 Pgs. 70-77
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0201924781/interactionby-20/104-7330305-6449509 and
“Contextual Design,” Hugh Beyer & Karen Holtzblatt, 1997, Pgs. 102-105

Persona Types
Personas should be prioritized as one of the following:
Focal – Primary users of the product who are its main focus. We will optimize the design for
them. At least one persona must be a focal persona.
Secondary – Also use the product. We will satisfy them when we can.
Unimportant – Low-priority users, including infrequent, unauthorized or unskilled users, as well
as those who misuse the product.
Affected – They don’t use the product themselves, but are affected by it (for example, someone
who gets reports from a user of a application, or the spouse of someone using a travel Website to
plan a trip).
Exclusionary – Someone we’re not designing for. It’s often useful to specify this to prevent nonusers from creeping back into product development discussions.
It’s critical to get team consensus about the relative priority of the personas. As discussed in Alan
Cooper’s “The Inmates are Running the Asylum,” if you have more than three focal personas, the design
problem is too big. You probably need to split the product into more than one product or overall interface
to avoid overwhelming users with too much complexity and causing the product to lose a clear focus. (For
example, you can create one interface for users of a system and a different interface for those who
maintain the system.)
It may not be immediately obvious at first which personas are focal ones, so the toolkit identifies
characteristics that may be useful in prioritization. However, it’s often critical to consider which personas
are the “neediest” – that’s to say, if you can solve a design problem for them, you solve it for your other
important personas. If this is the case, “neediness” should take priority because personas are a design
tool, not a market segmentation. The flip side to neediness is looking at which users are most demanding.
While this runs the risk of tilting toward power users, it’s not uncommon for consumer-facing products to
have 20 percent of customers account for 80 percent of profits and therefore it makes sense to remember
their needs. But the principle is the same as designing for the neediest users: if you can satisfy a design
problem for the most demanding users then you satisfy a much larger group of users. So “demanding” can
be a valuable complement to “neediness,” but should be used with care.
While personas are typically created only for users of a product, it’s important to keep in mind the
interests of other stakeholders, who can include:
Personas creation/usage toolkit
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Copywrite 2004 George Olsen
Immediate business sponsors
Higher-level management
The marketing team
The sales team
The engineering team
The customer support team
The legal team
Industry analysts
Market/industry influencers
Business partners
Public interest or lobbying groups
Typically, we don’t create personas for these stakeholders, however sometimes it may be useful to create
minimal personas for one or more of them – usually focusing on their goals – to make sure their interests
are taken into account. At a minimum, it is often worth noting for each stakeholder:
Their goals
The amount of influence they have in the project
The amount of knowledge they need to participate
The degree of involvement they will have
What conflicts they may have with other stakeholders
Getting awareness – and preferably team consensus – about these factors can be invaluable in managing
the inevitable politics around a product’s development.
Note: See “The Inmates are Running the Asylum,” Alan Cooper, 1999
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0672316498/interactionby-20/104-7330305-6449509 for a
discussion of persona prioritization and examples.
Persona’s Biographic Background
All personas should be named and have accompanying photos to help humanize them. This section
focuses on defining who they are and serves two purposes. First, to match personas to market segments,
if appropriate. Second, to provide “back story” that may not be essential for design purposes but help the
persona feel more real. This background information often can come from Marketing.
While this sort of demographic and psychographic information may be useful from a marketing standpoint
– especially to ensure than consumer-facing products are appealing – for designers of interactive products
it’s the behaviorial aspects related to the product’s interactions (to be discussed later) that are most
critical in making personas an effective design tool. So you should be careful not to let these
characteristics divert attention from others that are more useful tools for design.
Geographic profile
World region or country
Country region
City/metropolitan size
Personas creation/usage toolkit
Can be useful if the product will be used in specific regions. May also be
useful for providing non-essential details that help humanize personas.
For example: North America, United States, etc. – Mostly useful for
when multiple countries or regions need to be served by the product.
Pacific Coast, Midwest – This and the next two factors may be useful in
understanding cultural factors, how users live their lives
Under 5,000, 5,000-20,000, 20,000-50,000, 50,000-100,000, 100,000250,000, 250,000-500,000, 500,000-1 million, 1 million-4 million, more
than 4 million
Urban, suburban, rural
Sunbelt vs. Snowbelt, etc.
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Copywrite 2004 George Olsen
Demographic profile
Family size
Family lifecycle stage
Housing type
Social class
Social group status
Social network role
Personality and self-image
Personas creation/usage toolkit
These are normally only relevant for consumer-oriented products and
irrelevant for internal corporate productivity tools. These use standard
marketing segments (which typically imply a range of other aspects).
However, they can be useful in giving a persona personality.
It’s best to get them an exact age, but useful standard marketing
segments are: Under 6, 6-11, 12-19, 20-34, 35-49, 50-64, Over 65
Male, female
1-2, 3-4, more than 5
Young, middle-aged, older, single/married/divorced, with/without
children/without children under 18, etc.
Under $10,000; $10,000-20,000, $20,000-30,000, $30,000-50,000,
$50,000-100,000, $100,000 and over
Apartment, condo/townhouse, single-family home; renter vs. owner
Professional and technical, managers, officials, proprietors, clerical,
sales, craftspeople, supervisors, farmers, retired, students,
homemakers, unemployed, etc. If you’re matching a persona to a
occupational segment, give the persona a specific job that’s reflective of
the segment. (Personas should always be concrete and specific.)
Note: The user’s role – separate from occupation or job title – is often
important and will be discussed later.
Grade school or less, some high school, high school graduate, some
college, college graduate, post-graduate. This can have important
implication for the level of information presented.
May need to be aware of religious sensitivities
Both this and nationality may affect the style of communication,
presentation issues (such as implied meanings of colors, etc.) and other
cultural sensitivities.
Based on social class, lifestyle or personality characteristics. People in
the same demographic groups can have extremely different
psychographic makeups.
Not determined by a single factor, such as income, but a combination of
factors, including wealth, occupation, income, education, etc. Rough
estimates of U.S. population:
Lower lowers – 7% lowers – On welfare or have “the dirtiest” jobs,
visibly poverty-stricken.
Upper lowers – 9% – Working but just above poverty level.
Working class – 38% – Those who lead a “working-class lifestyle”
regardless of income, education or job.
Middle class – 32% – Average-pay white- and blue-collar workers
who live on “the better side of town.”
Upper middle class – 12% – Typically careerists, possessing neither
family status nor unusual wealth.
Lower uppers – 2% – Typically the nouveau riche who possess
wealth through exceptional ability in their profession or business.
Upper uppers –
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