Personas are fictional, generalized characters that encompass the various needs, goals, and observed behavior patterns among your real and potential customers. Personas should be informed by research, ideally qualitative and quantitative. Personas should be used as a tool to summarize and communicate research results. Building personas can help improve the way you solve problems and speak to your customers. Understanding your customer and the pain you’re solving will allow you to create a better user journey and product for them.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF PERSONAS?
The purpose of personas is to create reliable and realistic representations of your key audience segments for reference. These representations should be based on qualitative and some quantitative studies.
Your personas are only as good as the research behind them.
WHAT DO PERSONAS DO?
Represents a major user group for your product/service
Expresses and focuses on the major needs and expectations of the most important user groups
Helps put you in the mind of the customer you want to attract
Gives a clear picture of the user's expectations and how they're likely to use the product/service
Clearly articulates your customer’s challenges and pain points
Aids in uncovering universal features and functionality
Describes real people with backgrounds, goals, and values
BENEFITS OF PERSONAS
They help add a real-world layer to conversations and decision making
They offer a quick and inexpensive way to prioritize feature decisions
They help stakeholders and leadership evaluate feature ideas
They focus information architecture and interaction design
Visual designers can focus their initial design rationale on the personas
Based on user behavior, the system development/engineers team can begin to approach the challenge
Copywriters can also tailor their content to the appropriate audience
They can help uncover gaps and misalignments between a solution and user needs
They can synchronize your team’s efforts and get everyone on the same page
It is good to focus on only the main audiences you are targeting.
The aim of personas is to highlight major needs and give enough insight for action.
3-4 key personas are enough per project.
CONDUCT USER RESEARCH
This should help you answer the following questions as a bare minimum:
Who are your users?
Why would they use the system?
How are they solving that problem now?
What behavior, assumptions, and expectations would influence their view of the product/service?
ANALYZE THE RESEARCH
Identify themes and characteristic that are specific to them, relevant, and universal to the system.
Organize elements into persona groups that represent your target users.
See if any of the rough personas can merge. Organize the personas into primary and secondary personas. Aim to have 3-4 personas and their identified characteristics.
MAKE THEM REALISTIC
Describe background, expectations, and motivations. Avoid making it too personal. Include only relevant information.
Defining purpose of use
What do they want to do with the (product/service)?
Why do they need to do it?
Defining the user
Highest level of education
How long have they been working?
Why will they interact with the product/service?
(Ask follow up questions if necessary to capture user needs, interests, and goals.)
How have they been solving this previously? (Gives some idea where they are getting information and solutions.)
When and where will they use the product/service? (Helps narrow environment and context.)
What devices do they use on a regular basis? How often?
What software do they use regularly? How often?
Which is their primary device for web information access?
How often are they on the web?
For how long?
What motivates you the most personally?
What are you looking for with the product/service?
What are you looking to do in the end after using the system?
What are your needs to accomplish this?
ELEMENTS OF A PERSONA
A persona should generally have the following information:
Persona group (e.g. system engineer)
Demographic info (age, education, family status)
Main responsibilities for the job
Their social environment
Their physical environment
Their technological environment
A quote that sums up what matters most to this persona
Casual photo representative of this persona group
This is suitable for stakeholders who are not particularly interested in the technical details of the user needs.
This is particularly useful for designers who want an easy way to compare user needs with their design work.
Hustler Quick and dirty
This is normally when there isn’t enough research to create a persona.
There are many ways to approach personas. It will normally depend on the context. Personas are living documents and should be reviewed occasionally to respond to any changes in the organization and its target population. With continuous engagement, the value proposition should be refined based on experience and engagement with users.