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the good life in a digital age

my mum couldn’t use that

One of the goals of personas is to challenge stereotypes and preconceptions. This worked nicely when we were working on persona creation for the redesign of bbc.co.uk.
The personas were all based on research from our audience research team but the team was questioning the pensioner profiles for using too much technology, complaining that “my gran is nothing like that”. This is when you have to point out that the pensioners AR were talking about were 65. That makes them most of my colleagues’ parents not our grandparents. And reminds us all we’re getting old.

The research was nicely validated by an interview we did a few weeks later with a recently retired librarian. She was using digital television (including catch-up TV), mobile phone (texting and taking photos), digital radio, PC (internet & email), digital camera & skype with a web-cam. She’s wasn’t particularly enthusiastic about technology but was heavily influenced by her children and her need to stay in touch with family elsewhere in the world.

But even when we’ve recalibrated our understanding of who pensioners are….it is still a common cliche to hear web workers challenge something complex in a product on the grounds that “my mum couldn’t use that”.

Now my mum and dad are retired computer programmers. They’re seriously old school. When I was a kid I played with abandoned punch-cards and that green bar printout paper. Dinner time conversations involved mainframes and COBOL. I thought this was all normal for grown-ups.

Given how extraordinarily geeky you needed to be in early days to get into programming, they’re probably more technically able than many of today’s geeks. So my mum could almost certainly use that. If she wanted to.

Now my sister… she thinks the rest of us Harvey’s are weird. She’s a much better touchstone for the real world.

Written by Karen

June 2nd, 2008 at 11:03 am

Posted in bbc,family,past,ucd