Chris Kranky

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Rethinking configuration thru personas

Chris KoehnckeChris Koehncke

personalityIf I keep writing Atlassian articles, I’ll have to put an “owned & operated by” message at the bottom of this blog. Nonetheless, I picked up, nearly by accident while attending the Atlassian Summit last week a future thinking idea about how software should work.  Tash Keuneman with Atlassian, presented on the topic of “Bring Your Customers to Life With Personas.”

The topic name sounded like some type of new ER equipment designed to jolt the nearly dead back into the world of the nearly living, but in reality – Tash was explaining about how Atlassian was using personas to customize their software interfaces. What’s a persona? Like it or not, a persona is akin to slotting your personality into limited group of buckets of others having the same personality attributes. We’re not as unique as we might like to think.

While personas have been well researched and footnoted with $5 words. Atlassian is actually trying to apply this into their software today. We all like to collaborate, share and process information on our terms. In order to make that process work better, it’s helpful to have the software work how I like to work and not the other way around.

Atlassian has an entire subsite full of interesting information and worth a click about personas and their design philosophy. Note: I find it interesting they publish what others would consider “company confidential” and hide under lock n’ key.

Let me give you a future view of how this all might work. Today, when we get a new piece of software or electronic gizmo, we go to work configuring or customizing it. I like these colors, I want this button on the left, I need these types of notifications and show me only this much detail. While we’re all very familiar with this routine, it’s nothing we really enjoy doing.

What we are in effect doing is customizing the software for how WE like to work and how WE like to work is much dependent upon our personality type. I, for example, like to refer to myself as WE.

Thus in the future, you might select your personality as part of the set-up process and the software would automatically self-configure itself based upon how your personality type typically likes to work. Imagine the time saved and the productivity gained. Follow me just one more step into the future, perhaps where Google knows your personality or you have a persistent common cookie (who said I couldn’t write technically) with your personality type and a random website you visit would dynamically adjust how it presents the website experience to you and how you process information (and we thought CSS was bad enough).

It’s exciting that Atlassian is not only just thinking about it but actually trying to implement personality driven software. For now, I’m just ENTP to you.