I went to a great Meet-up last week organised by @rosebotanic. It is part of a series that Rose has set up called People before Pixels
This particular event was a workshop organised around the theme of ‘How to make personas in the public sector?’
There were about 40 people there to contribute their views and knowledge about personas.
Rose did a nice overview described the standard view of personas. We divided up into tables and were given a persona template to complete.
We were then given an envelope with quantitative information from which to create a persona. This is where it got interesting. We only had skeleton information and therefore had to make a fair number of ‘semi-educated’ guesses. After this we had an envelope of qualitative information. So again more ‘guesses’.
This is what we ended up with plus a pretzel:
The point of all this was to then have a debate about the value of personas. This led to lively discussion which was very productive.
Without wishing to generalise there was agreement that personas are very useful at the start of a project to generate a common view of which users we are talking about and their priorities. They have great value for team members who have not really thought about users before. They create a hook to start productive discussions.
Do personas though have a longer term value on a project once it is underway? There were more divergent opinions on this: some did keep their personas and refreshed them on a regular basis. A more common view was that they clearly are artificial constructs (which can be dangerous sometimes) which should then be superseded by more detailed work around more tight user groups of real people. In effect people before personas.
The whole meet up was excellent and a great format to get people talking and thinking. Here are Rose’s slides
If you are interested the GDS service design manual does not seem to mention personas but talks more about prototypes which for them could be appropriate in the context of what they are trying to achieve. Here is some US guidance and of course Wikipedia.
In the middle of March we launched a new version of our website in WordPress. The other key elements being that it is hosted on Amazon Web Services and the code is in Git. All fabulous stuff.
Though this was a major project, I tried not to make it a ‘major project’. However I did learn a few lessons so why not share some of them, painful blow by blow.
Ah, that fateful word in IT circles – legacy.
Things that are easily overlooked are:
which bits of your infrastructure do you actually own – are they on your assets register?
how do you (or someone else) decommission them and when?
which contracts exist – when do they run out – how much notice do you need to give of non-renewal?
I will almost guarantee that your contracts have different lengths. How do you get them in synch so that any switch over can be co-ordinated? Will you have to pay extra money to extend a contract?
How do you avoid insulting your existing suppliers when you tell them that you have ‘found someone else’.
In particular what if you want an element of contingency if something goes wrong and you need to revert back to your existing suppliers? Or you need the old suppliers to work with the new ones? Tricky huh.
So relationship management skills come to the fore.
I used the term ‘our website’ this morning when talking to a colleague and said that I might stop using the word ‘website’ and say our digital engagement platform. Or how about our communications platform; or our digital hub?
Weird huh? Well, maybe not? Certainly the word website says ‘what it does on the can’ but is it really accurate anymore? Does the word raise preconceptions in the reader of a static plaform of slow moving, slow changing content which is labouriously published?
If so, that is not want I want our colleagues to think of when I mention our ‘website’. How many of us have that kind of ‘website’ any longer?
Hence the search for a better word. So perhaps platform or hub is more accurate? I use this diagram internally saying that the website is the centre of our digital channels. Ironically as I inserted this diagram I realised that I have not even used the word website in the central circle.
The search for a word is on – your suggestions on a postcard please…