From recent events at work…. When a prospects technical team insists on only talking to your technical team to solve the users problems; you have a problem. This point coagulated in my mind even more because as the whole things was happening I was reading The Inmates are Running the Asylum on software usability and design.
I called the bid process off. And probably hurt our reputation in the process. It was still the right thing to do – mainly for the potential client but for us also. Why?
It wasn’t just the geeks-only-talk-to-geeks aspect. There isn’t anything wrong with technical folks comparing specs. I can be somewhat of a geek myself at times. The challenge is the people who write the checks assume we the technical-team are off to the side solving actual user needs. And they haven’t actually specified any specific user needs, just overall demographics of theoretical audiences.
And we shall call the creation the <trumpet sound>USERS</trumpet sound>.
Ah… that word… the "user". Well just who the heck is that?
For too many of us the user is an amalgamation of audiences lumped together into this chimera of a beast. And truth be told that beast will never be happy. And YES this is even if the chimera signs off on the specification documents.
My point? I agree that the creation of personas is completely required for software development and web design. And I agree with the extension of that paradigm to marketing in books like Cat. On the other hand I don’t believe you can write functional specs for software without a big time budget. And your technical team can’t design for the people, they can only design for one person. And they should specify that. Just sayin’