Part of the process of designing a new interface for the Digimap Data Downloader was to interview users and create personas. The persona’s would then be used to steer the redesign of the interface.
Getting hold of actual users is always difficult but the Digimap service requires users to agree to a licence and this states that the Digimap team can contact users about issues relating to the service. In order to ensure that users from a range of abilities and backgrounds were included in the personas it was decided to divide users into 3 groups based on their previous use of the Digimap Downloader:
- Users that have downloaded data from the service over 5 times
- Users that have downloaded data between 1 and 5 times
- Users that have used Digimap services but not the Data Downloader
The last category was included in response to feed back from the Digimap User Support group who had noticed that a number of users do not use the most appropriate service for the task they want to achieve. Investigating this in the persona’s was felt to be important.
Emails were sent to users at every institution that subscribes to the OS Digimap collection in the Edinburgh and Glasgow. It was felt that the range of institutions and the courses they ran were representative of the UK as a whole. Limiting the users to this geographic area reduced the logistics of organising interviews.
Interviews were held over 4 days with 1 session sin Glasgow and 3 in Edinburgh. Interviews lasted roughly and hour and up to 5 interviews were conducted in a day. The transcript that formed the skeleton plan of the interviews can be found HERE. On the Friday of the interview week we organised a persona workshop were we sat around a big table with all the transcripts, lots of post-it notes, some marker pens, lots of coffee and importantly our Usability Expert, David Hamill. Running the workshop immediately after the interviews was very useful as it doesn’t matter how verbose your notes are, there will be snippets of information that only exist in the memory of those that conducted the interviews.
The meeting lasted all day, but we had resolved our 16 users into 5 personas. We had briefly described what each persona wanted from the service and how they interacted with it. All that was left was to flesh out the skeletons and transform them into people with erm, persona’s. Initially I was not convinced about “making them seem real” and giving them names and hobbies, but this actually makes it easier to identify with a persona and visualise how and why they might use the service. The names, and the use of alliteration on the names made it much easier to discuss the persona’s in a group meeting.
The persona document is a bit difficult to display in a blog post so i have made a separate page for them. You can find this on the top navigation bar of this blog or through this link. The persona page shows a summary of each persona, the full pdf of the persona report and the interview transcript on which they are based can also be downloaded from the Persona Page.