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The User Is Always Right: A Practical Guide to Creating and Using Personas for the Web 1st Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0321434531
ISBN-10: 0321434536
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Steve Mulder is principal consultant at Molecular, an Internet consulting firm in Boston, and an internationally known speaker recognized for his work with personas. He’s a user experience expert who practices what he preaches, with over ten years of experience in user research, information architecture, interaction design, and usability. Ziv Yaar is the vice president of Internet strategy at Molecular, where he has spent over ten years helping companies develop technology and business strategies and has been at the forefront of merging the power of marketing analytics with personas.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: New Riders; 1 edition (August 31, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0321434536
  • ISBN-13: 978-0321434531
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #209,872 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Gócza Zoltán Károly on February 3, 2008
Format: Paperback
It is clearly one of the best books on webdesign, a compulsory one on any IA's or IxD's bookshelf.

What I liked:
- the insights this book gives you are instantly actionable, it is really a step-by-step guide
- the authors discuss the topics that are relevant to persona creation (and take it literally, there is great information on survey design, how to segment results, what sources to use to find a photo for your persona, etc.)
- you will find good real world examples
- the book shows multiple approaches based on different needs and constraints
- the copywriting is also outstanding, no nonsense and easy to digest

What I didn't like:
I am trying hard but really can't think of anything :)
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Duff HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 4, 2006
Format: Paperback
When creating a web site, it's very easy to fall into the trap of designing it for yourself. Unfortunately, you're not the typical user in most cases, nor are you the intended audience. You can avoid this problem with the use of "personas". The subject is covered very well in this book.

User-driven design means that you focus on what the user needs in a system instead of designing features because they're "cool". Personas are imaginary users of your system that you keep in mind while designing how the application will work. But it's much more than just picking a name like Bob and then coding away...

This book goes into the process of interviewing the user base of your proposed application, determining the needs and abilities of that base. A system that is to be used by computer-savvy accountants will not have the same look and feel as a system that is intended for your grandmother. By conducting these interviews and consolidating the results, the designer can get a good idea as to what a typical user will look like. That information is then used to create a number of personas, or fictitious people who will be the target audience. These personas come complete with names, pictures, and a background. Then instead of building features based on how you feel about them, you look at the feature through the eyes of "Bob", based on his attitudes, experience, and personality. It's like having a user available to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The User Is Always Right takes you through the steps necessary to understand the audience for your system, as well as how to make that audience "real" in terms of individual people.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Allan Tan on September 21, 2008
Format: Paperback
Comprehensive in-depth guide to creating personas using quantitative and qualitative techniques. Well written. No fluff. Note that creating personas requires significant resources, so small businesses would be less likely to develop them. Nevertheless, this book provides valuable insights for anyone serious about developing user centric web sites. If only more "practical guides" were like this one.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Manny Hernandez HALL OF FAME on December 11, 2006
Format: Paperback
I recently finished Steve Mulder's book and today, I had the privilege of seeing him speak at Web Design World 2006 in Boston. His approach to capturing the essence of users and taking this knowledge all the way through design and marketing, into strategic business decisions not only makes good sense: one wonders how much of a web-based operation is pure luck without taking this framework into consideration.

Mulder presents various options depending on the level of time and investment you can afford to make, ranging from strictly qualitative approaches that take relatively little to gather user data and come up with some form of segmentation, to all-out statistically-loaded qualitative studies with the end goal of defining a user as clearly as possible, giving him/her a name, traits, goals and a whole personality that your organization can relate to.

After personas have been defined, the book helps you use them to drive decision making about site structure, content and design, so as to ensure success getting the users they represent to accomplish their goals, while you make your company money. This makes this book a must-read for all people involved in the early stages of conceptualizing for a web site design or redesign, whether you are a designer, product manager or simply in charge of changes to a web site.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By William K. Evans IV on September 22, 2007
Format: Paperback
This comprehensive guide approaches user experience research like never before, and is well-written, easy-to-read, and quite user friendly. It provides real-world examples of how user research is done in just enough detail that it can both inform an executive of the role of usability research as well as introduce methodology for persona creation to someone starting out in user experience design.

"You are not the user."

As an interaction designer and information architect for the past 12 years, I have been most drawn towards books that go far beyond principles and theory to ones I can actually extract from and use their contents for the praxis of the craft, rather than just reading descriptions of a process. This is a great book that is a blueprint to follow to get it right. It defines the entire user research and persona creation process and offers insightful case studies from successful companies that Mulder and Yaar worked with like Vista Print.

The use of personas has become an increasingly popular technique being used by the interaction design community to address user needs. Introduced into the mainstream in 1999 in The Inmates Are Running The Asylum, personas have gained momentum in both the software and website design communities, but still faces hurdles.

What are the benefits of personas?

A key aspect to any practitioner responsible for bringing real user centered design to an organization's product design process, being able to evangelize the importance of user research and persona creation is absolutely key. Many interaction designers understand the importance of persona creation, but lack the arguments to persuade management to both fund user research and persona creation, and to incorporate real users into the design process.
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