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Re: User Profiles

On Thu, 2009-11-19 at 15:06 -0500, Máirín Duffy wrote:
> Since this message is already really long, I'm going to cut this here.
> Next I am going to make a post about our options on moving forward with
> a user research plan.

So first, to figure out which user research methods to use and the
research deliverables we'll want to produce, I think we need to think
about to what ends we would like to employ these personas. Here's my
stab at it:

- Personas will help us make informed design and policy decisions about
the default configuration of software in Fedora itself. We need to
consider these persona's needs and situations when making decisions
about default application behavior in Fedora, and even the look & feel /
appeal and style of the default artwork.

- Personas will help us determine what tasks our target audience wants
to accomplish with Fedora. This will help us figure out good default
package selections for Fedora, and also to figure out, for a given task,
which application is best suited to get the job done.

- Personas will help us determine the timbre of our messaging in both
marketing materials and our website in order to attract the very target
audience we are hoping to gain.

- Personas will help us streamline the main flows of the Fedora project
- making it easier to download and install Fedora itself, making it
easier to join Fedora as a contributor, and making it easy to get help
with Fedora. 

- Release-engineering-wise, they can help us determine which updates are
appropriate to be released when and the appropriate severity for them.
E.g., it may be determined some sets of packages need to be under
stricter guidelines than others based on the usage patterns we discover
in our target audience.

- Can you think of any other uses?

I think the kinds of deliverables we are going to want to focus the
research towards producing then could be along these lines:

A) A task list. This is a simple list of the things people are using
Fedora to do. To help in prioritization, indications of frequency and
how widely practiced the tasks are across the user set should be given.
Tasks should be goal-centric, not application-centric. E.g., 'Use
firefox' is not a task. 'Create a logo design for my business card to
send to the printers' is a task. The task should have a clear goal. 

B) Most frequently-used applications list (should include rich client /
desktop apps AND web applications.) Mugshot used to have a tool that
collected this data, and I think it's in gnome-shell now. Is there any
way we could allow users to opt-in to this sort of application usage
data collection?

C) A list of peripherals used with Fedora and what task workflows they
are a part of. (Downloading photos off of a digital camera to post on
your recipe blog and email the link to grandpa, Plugging in a scanner to
digitize old family photos and store them on a consumer NAS, filming a
music video for a school project grabbing the video off the camera
editing and uploading to youtube then emailing the teacher with the
link, connecting the computer to a TV and watching the movie with the
whole family, etc etc etc.) Some notion of how frequently the tasks are
performed / how many users perform them will be important to prioritize
efforts to streamline these workflows and produce guides / other content
for the website and marketing materials to show users how to accomplish
them with Fedora.

D) Applications commonly installed post-Fedora install. Looking at the
applications a user installs on top of Fedora, and the type of
configuration they do on a machine beyond the defaults I think would
help inform us where the default configuration / package set falls
short, and/or how packages and configurations might be chunked together
to make it easier to find them and get them installed.

E) And of course, most importantly, a set of user personas extrapolated
from all the data collected during research.

Here are some user research methods I think we could employ to gather
this kind of data. Some of them come from my set of IDEO method cards

1) An opt-in application usage collection mechanism as described in B

2) Maybe towards C and B, a listing of the Fedora-related bugzilla
components in terms of frequency folks are filing bugs against them. The
more bugs, perhaps the more visible problems are in those applications
thus they might need to be prioritized more.

3) Surveys & Questionnaires - these are easy to do, although it would be
nice if we had a survey system in our infrastructure to conduct these. 

4) Personal Inventory - interview a handful of target audience members
and ask them what objects related to their computer and computing
lifestyle are most important to them and why. Produce a catalog of the
items per interviewee. This will help us come up with a task list (A)
and understand how Fedora might fit into our target audience's lives.

5) Be Your Customer - with the task list (A) we come up with, members of
the Fedora project should walk through / enact performing those tasks on
their own to understand all the issues that arise. Out of this a
document listing out issues that need to be addressed in order to make
the tasks easier to perform could be written and bugs filed as

6) Scenarios - write up a character-rich story involving a made up user,
who is clearly a member of the target audience, interacting with Fedora
to provide context for how Fedora is used.

7) Behavioral Archeology - look for evidence of activity based on
organization / placement of things. We could ask for people in our
target audience to send in screenshots of their desktop and take note of
what changes they made to their desktop.

8) Cultural probes - make 'camera journal kits' including a camera,
notebook, and instructions and send it out to members of the target
audience asking them to keep a photo journal of their experience with
their computer over the course of some set time period. One way of doing
this to help the participants remember to do it is to send them some
signal at frequent intervals (phone, text message, email) and ask them
to write down what they're doing on their computer as soon as they get

9) Fly on the wall - sit with members of the target audience for a few
hours and simply observe how they interact with their computers without
interfering with their activities. 

10) Think-Aloud Protocol study - Similar to fly on the wall but more
interactive - observe a member of the target audience interacting with
the computer and take on a mentor/apprentice role with them - with you
as the apprentice - and ask them to explain what they are doing as they
do it. 

11) Extreme User Interviews - pick a set of target audience members who
are completely unfamiliar with Fedora and ask them to give it a try,
writing up their experiences. 

More coming! ;-)


[1] http://www.ideo.com/work/item/method-cards/

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