Good design depends on understanding your primary target users, their abilities and the goals they need to achieve. Personas bring your users to life and make them part of the design process. They help everyone on the project team to focus on the user experience.
What are User Personas?
User personas are archetypal profiles – grounded in real research data – of the people who will use your product or website. They are not 'made up', they are created using data from research visits, observations and interviews with your real customers. Personas simplify design and decision-making by allowing you to focus on the most important needs of your most important users.
Marketing segments and demographics are ideal for deciding if a market exists for a product and how and where to promote it, but they can’t capture the detailed behavioral information needed to understand the context of use, or identify users' needs and goals – and this is critical to doing good design. User personas stand in for real users and they complement your market segments and provide a more complete understanding of the user.
Our approach to User Personas
The key to personas is ensuring that the development team experiences the users and their work during the research phase. We work in close collaboration with your project team and you accompany us on each step of the journey. We recruit participants from your market segments, and we visit 20-25 people and observe them as they work.
During data analysis, we model the data using affinity diagramming and thematic analysis, and we plot the users on two-dimensional charts that allow us to see how they cluster on important dimensions. This, in turn allows us to collapse the data from all the representative participants into a small number of user personas. Finally, we create persona descriptions in a format you can use and share, such as posters, cards, lifesized models etc.
The personas then become part of your design team to be consulted about design decision: "What would Susan need us to do here?", "Is this feature solving the problem that Karl encounters every day?"
Did you know that ...
... although personas play an important role in design, and although the final representation of the personas are important, the real value of personas comes from the discovery and development process itself - not from the final deliverable.
It is important for designers to actually experience real users first hand and to be closely involved in collecting and interpreting the data and creating the final personas.
Find out how we helped a major bank to discover who their users were by creating research-based user personas that could be consulted during the design process.