1) Putting Personas to Work in UX Design: What They Are and Why They’re Important
It’s likely you’ve heard the term persona before, especially if you’ve worked in user experience design. Personas are a commonly used tool in UX design. At their core, personas are about creating products with a specific, not generic, user in mind. The usefulness of personas in defining and designing digital products has become more widely accepted in the last few years. Properly used, this tool is able to supercharge a designer’s work.
In this article, we’ll talk about the importance of personas, and how to create one.
What is Persona?
Personas are archetypical users whose goals and characteristics represent the needs of a larger group of users. Usually, a persona is presented in a one or two-page document (like the one you can see in the example below). Such 1–2-page descriptions include behavior patterns, goals, skills, attitudes, and background information, as well as the environment in which a persona operates. Designers usually add a few fictional personal details in a description to make the persona a realistic character (e.g. quotes of real users), as well as context-specific details (for example, for a banking app it makes sense to include a persona’s financial sophistication and major expenses).
2. Creating Personas from User Research Results
When you’re in the beginning stages of your design project and you have just finished some highly informative interviews and observations in the context of your users, your head is full of impressions. You have a feeling for the different types of users who exist, and you have heard some similarities in their stories that you feel should guide the design process. But how do you get these impressions out, into the minds of your co-designers and the client? Personas and scenarios are very powerful tools that will help you do just that. They are commonly used by design teams around the world, and have been proven to be very effective. Let us show you the best practices in developing these design deliverables, so your user research results can work their magic.
In her Interaction Design Foundation encyclopedia chapter on personas, leading specialist in personas Lene Nielsen describes four perspectives that your personas can take to ensure that they add the most value to your design project: goal-directed personas, role-based personas, engaging personas, and fictional personas. Here, we’ll explain the engaging personas in more detail, and show you how to implement them in scenarios, because this perspective is most useful when you want to establish empathy for the user in your fellow designers or clients.
“The engaging perspective is rooted in the ability of stories to produce involvement and insight. Through an understanding of characters and stories, it is possible to create a vivid and realistic description of fictitious people. The purpose of the engaging perspective is to move from designers seeing the user as a stereotype with whom they are unable to identify and whose life they cannot envision, to designers actively involving themselves in the lives of the personas.”
— Lene Nielsen