Add snip from Enrico Zini's paper as a short introduction? Something good here? :
Creating a persona
First thing: ask yourself: „who are you developing this for?“.
When you start designing a piece of software, you are trying to solve someone's problem. It is imperative that you know very well what kind of person you're working for, and keep it clear during all the design and implementation. Create a prototype target user (Cooper calls it „persona“), give it a name of a person that doesn't exist, write down its profile on a piece of paper and stick it to the wall. Write it in the beginning of your README file. Put as many details as you can, even pointless, but anything that can make you remember who's your target.
It can be that you are designing for yourself; but who will you be using that software? Which of your situated identities are you addressing? It could even be a new identity you want to give to yourself. Even so, nothing changes: create a persona, give it a name, write down its profile in great detail, add some pointless details even, and stick to it.
Just one small note: a persona must not be any real person. You are usually address a type of user more than a single user, so your persona should reflect that stereotype. Real persons have unique quirks, and if you take them into account you risk losing time and efforts in something pointless. Choose your stereotypes wisely. Whatever kind of user you are designing for, your persona must be the average sample of that kind.
here's from a discussion i had with enrico on irc.freenode.net #debian-custom:
3:15 < vagrantc> enrico: http://wiki.freegeek.org/index.php/User_personae 3:20 < vagrantc> enrico: at least one other person is excited by your zen-paper :) 3:30 < enrico> vagrantc: WO WO WOW!! 3:32 < vagrantc> enrico: we haven't really used these personae in our design, but hopefully it will start to be a consideration 3:35 < enrico> vagrantc: 11 persona only for the 'adoption program' part (!) 3:36 < enrico> ideally, you should design a different product for every 3:36 < vagrantc> too many, you're saying? 3:37 < vagrantc> enrico: freegeek does encounter many type of people ... but any suggestions would be welcome ... there's a discuss section on the wiki. 3:38 < enrico> yes, too many. But then yes, you're supporting many kinds of people. Difficult design :) 3:39 < vagrantc> well, i think we're still better off than people's vague, unspecified impressions of who were developing for 3:40 < enrico> sure! 3:42 < mornfall> vagrantc: these personae on the wiki are real? 3:43 < enrico> mornfall: by definition of persona, they shouldn't be :) 3:43 < vagrantc> mornfall: they are explicitly not supposed to be real people. 3:43 < vagrantc> mornfall: but they definitely represent some of the people who come to freegeek 3:44 < enrico> vagrantc: maybe you should try to find patterns among those personae, and then design a representative macro-persona for each pattern 3:44 < mornfall> enrico: there is very definitive pattern among most - lack of time :-)) 3:46 < vagrantc> enrico: should we drop the "all of these people have had no experience with computers" since that should just be reflected in each persona? 3:46 < enrico> vagrantc: yes, you should drop it. also because you risk it being a false assuption about one of them 3:47 < enrico> like, maybe you have one that has, or has a brother/cousing who has, and you miss it because you decided none of them has 3:47 < enrico> or, OTOH, you could extract that as the first meta-pattern among them, then look for more 3:47 < enrico> like: 3:47 < enrico> 1) no computer 3:47 < enrico> 2) lack of time 3:47 < enrico> ehm, 1) no experience with computers 3:47 < enrico> 2) lack of time 3:48 < enrico> it's already something. This would also fit a furtune-100 top-manager 3:48 < enrico> so maybe there's another pattern to be found 3:48 < enrico> once you get 3 or 4 metapatterns, try to make a stereotype persona out of them