Info & Interaction Design, Personas

Mick McQuaid



But first … The Elephant in the Room

Figma acquisition by Adobe

  • Should we keep using Figma?
  • Should we switch to Framer or Penpot or go back to Sketch?
  • Should we try to develop multiple escape routes?

What’s the problem?

  • Adobe has a long history of buying companies and ruining / destroying their products
  • Adobe has a direct competitor to Figma
  • Acquisitions in big tech are usually disastrous for the consumer
  • There’s even a tumblr devoted to publishing optimistic statements by acquired CEOs followed by later announcements of closure (

Where is more info about this?


  • Everybody hates Adobe. Why? (Subscriptions?)
  • Isn’t it possible that this acquisition will fail? (Yes)
  • Might the FTC block the deal? (Unlikely)
  • The co-inventor of Figma has already moved on. Why? (That’s what they do)
  • What will Adobe do? (retire XD? retire Figma? ruin both?)

Why do we care?

  • Reliance on Figma
  • Pace of innovation at Figma
  • Sketch is mac-only (for now)

Recap, Previously on Info & Interaction Design

  • Contextual Inquiry
  • Mood boards
  • Triangles
  • Picking up a key

Protocol and verbal analysis

protocol analysis \(\rightarrow\) think-aloud process

verbal analysis \(\rightarrow\) knowledge representation


The output of protocol analysis \(\rightarrow\) process map

The output of verbal analysis \(\rightarrow\) knowledge map


  • Use Cooper et al. (2014)
  • Cooper invented personas at Microsoft

Reading Cooper

Structuring your reading

  • Table of contents
  • Orange headings
  • Black headings
  • Boldface terms
  • Italicized emphasis
  • Figures with sequences
  • Figures with comparisons
  • Examples
  • Justifications
  • Answering objections
  • References
  • Order of presentation

Personas are models

  • Why model?
    • Only care about salient features
    • Only care about relevant behavior patterns
  • Composite archetypes
    • Not stereotypes
    • Arises from research, e.g., contextual inquiry

Designing for many constituencies

  • Increases cognitive load
  • Increases navigational overhead
  • Instead, identify specific individuals with specific needs

Example for cars

  • Alesandro wants to go fast and have fun
  • Marge wants to be safe and be comfortable
  • Dale wants to haul big loads and be reliable
  • Is there one car for all three?

What personas help the designer do

  • Determine what a product should do
  • Communicate with stakeholders
  • Build consensus and commitment
  • Measure the design’s effectiveness
  • Contribute to other product-related efforts

Design pitfalls that personas avoid

  • Elastic user (license to build what you please)
  • Self-referential design (developer as user)
  • Edge cases (shouldn’t be focus, even when designed for)

Why personas are effective

  • Personification engages empathy
  • Research basis grounds personas in measured reality
  • They are context-specific: one persona for one product
  • Their motivations are explored

Cognitive processing levels, from Norman (2005)

  • Visceral
  • Behavioral
  • Reflective

Goals corresponding to the three levels

  • Experience goals
  • End goals
  • Life goals

Motivations corresponding to the three goals

  • The user wants to feel
  • The user wants to do
  • The user wants to be


The PDCA cycle

The stations of the cycle

The PDCA cycle can be traversed over and over, indefinitely. There are four main stations of the cycle.

  • Plan investigations to understand the current situation
  • Do implement short term fixes and long term plans to overcome root causes of problems
  • Check to see the effects of implementing fixes and plans
  • Act to standardize fixes and plans that succeed

Also see Pruitt and Grudin (2003).

Up next, Framer and (maybe) Penpot tutorials


Chi, Michelene T. H. 1997. “Quantifying Qualitative Analyses of Verbal Data: A Practical Guide.” The Journal of the Learning Sciences 6 (3): 271–315.
Cooper, Alan, Robert Reimann, David Cronin, and Christopher Noessel. 2014. About Face 4.0: The Essentials of Interaction Design. Indianapolis, IN: Wiley.
Ericsson, K. Anders, and Herbert A. Simon. 1984. Protocol Analysis: Verbal Reports as Data. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Norman, Donald A. 2005. Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things. Basic Books.
Pruitt, John, and Jonathan Grudin. 2003. “Personas: Practice and Theory.” In DUX ’03: Proceedings of the 2003 Conference on Designing for User Experiences, 1–15. New York, NY, USA: ACM Press.



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