Focus on the User: Personas a Key Element
Moving to a component content approach to delivering content and learning offers a significant opportunity that is often missed: the opportunity to focus on the user. Too often the focus is on selecting technology—what's the right tool to use—rather than the content and learning needs of the user (who needs what, when, and how). By looking first at the needs of the user, new information and learning models emerge.
In many organizations understanding what's needed comes from the inside out. Content deliverables, learning roadmaps, curriculum plans are based on what's been done in the past rather than understanding how users work and what information and learning is needed to improve their performance.
Building user profiles is a key way to understand the needs of the user. At Lasselle-Ramssy profiles comprise three elements: personas, task analysis, and use cases or user stories. Let's start with personas. Persons are a rich description of each key audience group based on their skills, goals, behavior patterns, and attitudes, and the work environment. They go beyond typical demographic descriptions of users to develop an in-depth understanding of what motivates the user on the job. Personas include insights into users' problem solving approach, anxieties, basic learning approach, on-the-job and personal obstacles to attaining proficiency and the user's own assessment of when and how they need and use information. Personas also include the demographic description, job responsibilities, and technical profile.
It's important to personalize the personas—to give them a name, a face and a voice. This helps communicate with your internal team—especially cross functionally—and also makes it easier to remember who you're working for. Who is the ultimate consumer of the information you are developing? How can you help them be more productive? How will that help make your company (company's product) more successful?