Application of Personas in User Interface Design for Educational Software

Dantin, U.

    In the current cautious business climate, development of large new software has become rarer as the cost pressure has increased. User interfaces (UI), the most important part of a system for end users and critical for system success, remain notoriously user-unfriendly. This makes it imperative to identify practical tools that small software projects can use to help them maximise UI design quality while minimising cost. This research looks at two similar small systems and investigates the usefulness of the concept of personas for UI design evaluation. Following the Goal-Directed Design approach, personas are defined along classes of users. The tasks of each persona are established via usercentred requirements. Each task is then performed with consideration to established usability heuristics. Overall, the question is whether the initial use of personas in the design phase might have resulted in fundamentally different UI choices. It was concluded that the approach of identifying personas and performing their tasks in evaluating the UIs of both software systems was most definitely a process that helped introduce clarity and a form of accountable reasoning into the UI evaluation process. For both systems, it could be reasoned that the UI design would have been fundamentally different in some aspects if personas were used. However, personas were less helpful when it came to diagnose and describe user frustrations that had not so much to do with UI design as such, but with general usability issues. In this case they were mainly related to discrepancies and inconsistencies in the underlying business logic or simply bad programming, pointing to deficiencies in other areas of the software development life cycle (SDLC). .
Cite as: Dantin, U. (2005). Application of Personas in User Interface Design for Educational Software. In Proc. Seventh Australasian Computing Education Conference (ACE2005), Newcastle, Australia. CRPIT, 42. Young, A. and Tolhurst, D., Eds. ACS. 239-247.
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