Before jump into the coding-phase of a digital product, we need to make sure first that the product we develop is well-defined; the features, the design, the plan, and most importantly, for which segment of users are we building this product. The first step to define that is to create a Persona.
In the late 1990s, researchers in IT system development had begun reflecting on how we could best communicate and understand the users. Many concepts emerged in that time period, such as user archetypes, user models, lifestyle snapshots, and model users. In 1999, Alan Cooper published “The Inmates are Running the Asylum” where he described personas as a method we can use for fictional characters, for the first time ever.
Personas are a tool we can use to generalize our user base, giving a quick reference when we have to design or decide something regarding the product. It often contains a compilation of “average” characteristics that, put together, actually represent no one. Personas provide some benefits to almost every role in the product development team, it helps several processes in product development, including but not limited to help:
- Stakeholders and leaders evaluate new site feature ideas
- Information architects develop informed wireframes, interface behaviors, and labeling
- Designers create the overall look and feel of the website
- System engineers/developers decide which approaches to take based on user behaviors
- Copywriters ensure the site content is written to the appropriate audiences
After knowing the benefits of persona, the next question would be, what are the things that need to be included in persona?
- Name: could be realistic, could be taken from an actual customer.
- Photo: can be taken from Stock photos, avoid photos of celebrities, coworkers, and other people that we know. The idea is to create a new, original identity.
- Personal quote/motto: This helps to make the persona seem more real.
- Bio: backstory, what do they do, their family, etc. It is a little backstory to make the person relatable.
- Demographics: Age, sex, income.
- Motivations: this attribute helps us to get inside the user’s mind.
- Goals and Frustrations: Goals and frustrations are basically the “pain points” that the user has, that we try to resolve with our product.
We definitely need user data to create a persona. How can we gather user data? There are many resources you can use:
- Using pieces of information we already got in hand, like past researches we have done or we just know something for sure.
- Making assumptions. If we’ve been working on a product for a while, we may have enough knowledge to make quite accurate assumptions about our users.
- Conducting interviews with users.
- Creating surveys.
For example, we want to make a product that allows users to find new people on social media through mutual friends. The persona would look like this:
Now, let’s take a look into the persona that defines my team’s product.
Our team develops a product that aims to help parents to monitor the development of their children.
To make things clear, let’s put it into bullets that I’ve written above:
- Name: Sharon Laurensia
- Photo: a photo of a non-celebrity person, the photo is not familiar to our team thus it is a new, original identity.
- Personal quote/motto: In the persona above, the quote is a piece of a fake interview. It explains that she’s a super busy freelancer thus she needs a tool that can help her monitor her child’s growth and development.
- Bio: On the persona above, the bio is in the “Background” section. Sharon is a working mom that has 2 children aged below 5.
- Demographics: Sharen is a 29 years-old mother that works as a graphic designer freelancer, she’s tech-savvy.
- Motivations: Sharon wants to update and monitor her children’s development, wants to periodically consult with doctors, and read materials regarding child development.
- Goals and Frustrations: This can be seen in the Goals and Frustrations section on the Persona.
How this persona is useful for us
In the process of development, we needed to decide several things and the persona helped us to decide it. For example, when there’s one feature that is too hard to implement for us, we finally resort to an easier alternative that still can tackling the frustrations and fulfill the needs of our users. For detailed implementation, you can ask me personally since it might be confidential.
Hope you find this article useful and can be your reference in building your own persona. Cheers! 😊