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ACM SIGCHI WWW Human Factors (Open Discussion)


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Sender: "ACM SIGCHI WWW Human Factors (Open Discussion)" <[log in to unmask]>
From: Cameron Barrett <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Sun, 7 Nov 1999 22:54:34 -0500
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Reply-To: Cameron Barrett <[log in to unmask]>
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>Continuing this thoughtwander, what frustrates me so much about typical
>usability engineering is a lack of empathy. Users aren't seen as people, but
>as subjects, as an Other. Usability engineers don't endeavor to truly
>empathize with the user's needs and desires. Instead they use accepted
>methodology (time-to-completion studies, think-aloud user tests, heuristic
>evaluation) to create an abstract model of the user that neglects the
>audience's true humanity.

Alan Cooper addresses this very problem in his book "The Inmates Are
Running the Asylum" (ISBN: 0-672-31649-8, pages 132-148). He has introdcued
a concept that he calls personas, where for every project you are working
on, you create a set of personas to represent your end users. Give them
varying names, backgrounds, skill sets, and needs.

This does a few things that are very beneficial. First, it removes the
faceless "end user" adjective from the picture. By encouraging usability
engineers to address their "end user" personas by name, you are allowing
the personas become more alive in the engineer's mind. Secondly, it ends
debates about features between the programmers and the managers.

Cameron Barrett
Interactive Designer - Borders Online (Work) (Personal)