User personas represent the goals and behaviours of hypothetical users. They are created from data collected from interviews with users.
This data includes:
- Behaviour patterns
- Their environment/context
Having personas allows the team to make objective decisions on the design rather than personal preferences. It is essential to review the personas before wireframing and reviewing them after completion allows you to ensure that your users’ goals have been met.
Large vs small audience
When you have a universal design with a very large user base, it is difficult to create personas as there are so many variations. In this case, you want to find out who your target audience is and mainly focus on satisfying them. Then when you feel they are covered, you can look into your secondary target audience. An example of a large user base is Ebay.
Even though you may have a small audience, it does not mean you don’t need personas. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, it means you can get more specific about your personas. Feedback from your users is always great because it will help guide and improve your persona development.
User feedback can:
- Confirm or deny suspicions you have about your user base
- Help bring to light new ideas that you might not otherwise considered
- Help to further define your personas in a way that informs your design to provide an optimal experience
For example, Dora the Explorer is for a more refined audience, young kids.
It’s important to ask yourself what tasks are your users trying to do? Is what we are designing at the beginning, middle or end of their task path? Different personas have different task paths to the same content, this can also influence their mindset coming in, which in turn, could affect your design.
The reason for personas is you want to know who your audience. What devices are the personas likely to use? Are they expecting an across platform experience? For example, mobile use is very high with users in their twenties whereas it is low for the elderly; Netflix understands that they have a very large user base so they have tailored their product to accommodate many people.
Are users coming to your site to find that one item they are looking for or do they just trust your site to serve up interesting content to them? This will heavily influence the information architecture and interaction design elements.
Mental Models (Why?)
Mental models are how your user approaches a particular problem and they vary from person to person. For example, a teenager may take notes with their smartphone, but an elderly person may use sticky notes. If this isn’t shaping your designs, you are creating a bad experience for your user.
Artefact (project or product) Personas
You don’t want your product to just be a dull digital program, you want it to seem to have some life to it, make people feel welcome and engaged with the product. You can create an experience keyword bank which can represent the initial 5 second emotional reaction that users should feel when using the interface or product. Some product personality questions you can ask to create these words are:
- If the interface were a person, what would she or he be like?
- How would you expect users to react when they first view the product?
- How would you describe this product to a friend?
- How is the product different from competitive products?
- Which celebrity (or car, movie etc) is the product most like? Least like? Why?
- List and group any descriptive words or concepts that occur during stakeholder and user interviews
- Then group the words into 3-5 core word groupings
- Then develop into the final set of experience keywords
There are two benefits to doing this:
- It creates a positive first impression
- It can greatly influence users to being using your product over another, and they are more likely to forgive any shortcomings
Today’s Quick Tips:
- Personas allow the team to make objective decisions
- Everyone is different, they use different technologies and have different ways about doing the same things, so you need personas to help guide product design
- Understanding WHO is your target audience, HOW they do certain activities and WHY they do them that way are essential in creating a product
- At the end of the day, you are designing for your users, if you don’t follow their needs and wants, your product will surely fail