Playing with Personas | TNG
Updated: Jan 18, 2021
Persona based testing is a software testing technique that puts software testers in front of customer's mind and determines use cases/scenarios that customers will execute. -Chamel Asela Perera
I first came across the idea in Explore It! and immediately started writing out different 'personas' that I'd met in my three years in customer service (5 if you count those high school retail days). The process was somewhat cathartic too, as it brought some purpose to the five hour phone call I had helping someone set up their receipt printer.
I LOVE testing with personas. As an avid D&D player the fact that I can role play at work and get paid to do so is pretty exciting. Although I don't always get a chance to use the personas I create I do have a good-sized backlog of potential personalities from some of my favorite sci-fi series. Oh, and as a warning I really, really like Star Trek.
Please excuse the GIFs but you can only get so many pixels from a 90s TV series.
If I'm writing a blog post about TNG how can I not start with Picard. He's not the most creative persona to test with as he follows the rules the majority of the time. He's a straight-forward end user and probably won't notice system issues unless his earl grey isn't served 'hot'. That being said, if his tea is cold, or if he's given hot chocolate instead he will be livid. Sure life support is functioning but something is CLEARLY WRONG if the replicator can't make a decent Earl Grey. Never underestimate the importance of "minor" details when testing.
Q is the most obnoxious person to support but he's the most fun to test as. He is the hacker. He's the user that can get his way into the nooks and crannies of any system. That admin page that's only accessible by direct link? With a really unique URL? Yeah he found it and also got through with a SQL injection and now has all your user data. That admin password that you know is super strong but you haven't changed it in five months? Yeah, he cracked it and he logged into your company's Facebook too and now his naked butt is on your company's Instagram feed. Think omnipotent-ly here.
Riker is similar to Picard in that he's pretty much a happy path persona as well. With some...unique motives. Riker is looking to make the system work for him. Remember that one episode with Mignonette where a hologram program distracted him to the point that the ship was stolen out from under him? I do. Riker will try to find little exploits and shortcuts in the system to make it more appealing to him. Shortcuts to reports saved on his desktop, probably a password file saved locally so he has easy access, and that app that connects all your other apps but is actually controlled by Russia? Yes, he downloaded that and put in admin credentials for your site. Alright, alright my personal feelings are clearly warping his persona, but can we talk about that girl's hair on the left? Dang. They had good extensions back in the 90s.
Lwaxana is one of the most joyous end users. She doesn't know much about computers and isn't convinced the computer's not sentient. She expects the computer to know exactly what she means (It's not all her fault, she's used to her people knowing her thoughts) and when the program doesn't perform as it's expected she'll probably keep repeating the command. She's the user that will double, triple and quadruple click if she doesn't see what she expects to see. Lwaxana will expect 'voice to text' to work anywhere and she will just talk louder if the phone fields aren't accepting it. We all have a Lwaxana in our lives so she should be easy to channel.
Ahhh Geordi. Geordi is not an end user persona. No, Geordi is the badass tester that you met that one time at a conference. He is psyched about new innovations that are coming through in the industry and he has loads of ideas. He contributes to Selinium in his spare time. You knew about him before you met him because he is SO active in the community. He even educates children through a reading-based television program! If he runs into a problem he can't solve he reaches out to professionals in that field (I mean he may turn you into a holodeck program without your consent...but hey, we all have flaws). Geordi isn't a one-time persona. He's who you should be all the time. Anytime you run into a problem whether in life or in work just ask yourself WWGD. What would Geordi do?
If you've made it this far wow, you should email me and we should be friends because we clearly have similar interests. That, or you have scrolled to the bottom because you were bored.
How do y'all feel about personas? Do you use them when testing? If yes, what are some your favorites? And if you're a TNG fan, what ancillary characters have you turned into testing personas?