The debate about the necessity of creating personas during the design process is becoming increasingly common among UX researchers. At Smart Design, we work with our clients on developing solutions for real people’s problems during various product development projects. Therefore we would like to explore this topic further.
What is a persona?
First of all, let’s clarify what we mean by the term “persona.” During the UX design process, we group users into different personas, which decision-makers and product development professionals can rely on. Personas provide a framework for understanding what is truly important to users regarding a specific product. Personas are not real individuals but hypothetical groups that represent the users we have typified. By using personas, we can view a problem from outside our own perspective.
When to use personas?
Depending on our goals, we can use personas before, during, and after the research phase.
Before user research: We can view the use of personas as a team activity “game” where everyone can share their knowledge about users. In this case, we can refer to proto-personas because they lack the proper research to validate them.
During user research: Personas organize all the information that has been collected about users.
After user research: We harmonize the collected data and use personas to place it into a better understandable context that can help corporate stakeholders make decisions.
We need to be careful with personas, as the goal is not to stereotype our users. We should not make the mistake of trying to force them into a box, such as “young people”, “elderly”, “middle-aged” or “working mothers” who (for example) may or may not prefer to drink latte coffee.
When collecting data on users, we often focus on the wrong things. We need to be critical of the data and how we present it. After all, the persona is just one possible way of summarizing our research, not the only tool.
If we want to quickly, efficiently, and relatively inexpensively obtain legally compliant images, we naturally turn to stock photos. The disadvantage is that they can be easily spotted as generic products. Our goal is to work with authentic and empathetic personas that will help us generate authentic solutions.
Similarly to stock photos, we should not use templates found online when creating personas, as in most cases the persona description blocks included in them will not be valid.
How to Create Good Personas?
To create relevant personas, we need real impressions. It is also necessary to involve living people in the creation process: talking to them will serve as the “soul” of our persona. This way, we will understand what a person may think, feel, what problem they may face and ultimately, what they are trying to achieve. Answering these questions can describe processes that provide relevant information for product developers.
When creating a “good” persona, we gain information about the user’s motivation, existing difficulties and goals. Once these data are harmonized with the exploration of behavioral patterns, needs, user goals, we can create individual user archetypes. Our goal is to be able to relate to these archetypes, where one of the main goal is: create empathy for their problems. To do this, we use a characteristic sentence or expression that the persona can say in a given situation. This way, we can turn the collection of data into a living person that everyone in the product team can identify with.
The persona’s goal should be related to the project
Drive or motivation is what drives us forward in life. The persona is no different. Because if the persona doesn’t try to accomplish a task or find a solution to a problem, there is a high probability that our product won’t be able to help them either. However the problem should not be general, related to their entire life but should be related to the specific problem area we are working on.
If we create our personas on a good foundation they can greatly support our product development processes, which rely on different user needs as a user map from start to finish. They can also help us decide whether our product serves the needs of multiple target groups when launched on the market or whether we should concentrate on covering the needs of our main target group first.
We hope that by now it has become clear why creating personas is worthwhile and what aspects to consider to make their use successful which can make our business more profitable.
If you still have questions our professional team is at your disposal. Contact us and we will help optimize your company processes.
Are you interested in more topics related to Marketing Automation? Then stay tuned for further blog entries coming soon!
If you are interested in our other blog posts:
- The Human Mind and Usability: Cognitive Biases
- The Human Mind and Usability: Problem Solving & Decision Making
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- Marketing Automation Basics: How to Use it in Your Business