Persona: Imagine the Users
“People ignore design that ignores people.” — Frank Chimero, Designer
This article was written as an individual review assignment of PPL CSUI 2021
Creating a design for your product, whether it be a website or an app, is easy. However, creating a design that your users will enjoy and feel comfortable with when using your product takes a lot more than just designing. And to do that, we need some sort of way to understand what kind of users are we going to deal with, right? But how? This is where creating personas may help you out.
What exactly is a persona?
You can think of a persona as a fictional individual or an imaginary character who will be using your product that may represent a type of user for your product. With personas for your product, whenever you are faced with decision-making during the early stages of product development or product redesign, you can make the decision based on those personas.
Is it worth the bother?
If you want to make sure that many users not only try out your product but also be loyal to use it, yes, it does worth the bother. Here is the reason why:
To be a guide for decision making
Building a good product includes building a good strategy. When it comes to strategy, decisions have to be made. Personas may help us to solidify the idea of our product’s user behavior, which may give us an idea of what is necessary or what is not. This may seem trivial, but a solid idea of user behavior can help us a lot during the early stages of development.
Decide the prioritization
A solid idea of user behavior helps us by allowing us to prioritize feature requests. When building a product, it is almost inevitable that there will always be a lot of feature requests during development. We can save time and effort by comparing them based on which one is the most proper for the personas that we have, then prioritizing the ones that fit the most.
Decide the solution to the conflict
Another example of how this would help us would be by allowing us to settle arguments about different design choices between designers. When building a product, we may have multiple designers to lighten up the workload for designing. But sometimes the process of designing may not go smoothly due to the different opinions of the designers. When such cases like this happen, we can look back at our personas and tell which opinion fits the most so that we can settle on an agreement. For example, one of our designers thinks that the font in the design doesn't look right, it needs to be smaller, but another designer thinks otherwise. So, they look back at the personas and see that one of the personas is an old man whose eyesight is not great. With this, they can agree that it is probably the best idea to not make the font small.
Decide the requirements for backend
Although personas are mainly used to help the designers and frontend engineers of a product, they can also be beneficial for the backend engineers as well. Personas can help us decide what requirements or logistics are required for a product’s backend. For example, a backend engineer was working on a project that had two user types. The project’s user types are a nutritionist and a client. The engineer was hesitant as to whether or not the project requires another user type for staff because at first, the engineer thought that staff is automatically a nutritionist as well. But then, just to make sure, the engineer went over the project’s personas and noticed that staff and nutritionists are two separate users. So, the backend engineer can then easily decided that the project needed another user type.
Sounds promising, but how do I make them?
What do I put in a persona?
There are many elements that you can put in a persona, but usually, it always consists of an overall description of the character, also the character’s goals, motivations, barriers, and needs.
Goals: What they want to accomplish by using your product.
Motivations: What will motivate them to use your product.
Barriers: What will stop them from using your product.
Needs: What they need from your product.
Are there any steps to creating a persona?
I believe there are a lot of ways to create a persona but these are the steps that in my opinion are the most necessary:
- Collect data
To create your persona’s description, goals, motivations, barriers, and needs, you need to understand your target audience first. To do this, you must do research. You must dig up as much information as possible about your future users. It would be great if you can manage to interview real people that you think would appreciate your product.
2. Create the hypothesis
If you think that you’ve collected enough data, list all of the types of behaviors that you have observed during the research then create a hypothesis about what types of users will be using your product.
3. Create the personas
For each type of user that you have from the hypothesis, you may choose which ones are more likely to be using your product, then create one persona for each of your choices. Don’t overdo it by creating too many personas because the process may get out of hand. Usually, three or four personas are enough.
Don’t forget to think of their description, goals, motivations, barriers, and needs based on your research.
4. Ask for thoughts from your team
You can never go wrong by asking for thoughts or opinions from your development team. They may or may not think that the personas you made are appropriate for the product that you and your team will be building. Listen for their critiques because they may see something that you might have missed during research.
That is all from me, friends!
I hope this article may help you create personas for your products.
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