Research & understanding

Personas

Colton Schweitzer
November 3, 2020

Personas are fictional representations of your target users created by grouping the user data gathered through research. 

Source: blog.adobe.com

Personas are composed of a name, general details, goals, beliefs, pain points, etc. and are usually displayed on a single page. They help to keep the user at the center of the design process because they’re a great reminder of your user’s attitudes, desires, and goals.

Personas also help you build empathy for the user. By using personas, designers can look at the problem from the perspective of the user helping them to create a product that that user actually needs. If, during the UX process, you get stuck, you can always look back and ask what your personas would need in the situation.

The composition of a persona depends on how detailed you need it to be. 

Most of the time, personas include 8 things:

The persona’s name

The persona's age. 

A photo of the persona. A great resource to find royalty-free pictures is Unsplash.com. 

The goals they’re trying to accomplish. 

Their beliefs related to the problem.

The pain points and problems they’re currently facing. 

The technology and devices they use.

A quote regarding how they feel about this problem or what they want from a solution.

If it’s relevant to the product you’re working on, you can also include more specific information like the persona's bio, occupation, marital status, personality traits, etc. 

Personas are a controversial topic in the UX world. 

Many believe that personas are a fantastic design tool. Others… not so much. Just understand that they aren’t a tool that’s universally used.

Personas can be great for smaller companies where the market is very niche and you can point to 1-2 personas who use your product. 

However, for larger companies, personas can go out the window because there are too many types of people who use the product, making it almost impossible to categorize them. Take Apple for example, when they were first starting out, they had specific personas who bought their products. Over time, their user base has gotten so large it no longer makes sense to define personas because there would be dozens of them, which defeats the purpose. Instead, they define user goals and jobs to be done and solve UX problems with those in mind. 

Another issue is that there’s a lot of made-up information in personas (like the name and the background of a persona). 

This can make personas seem even more fictitious and not real, making it really easy to neglect them and not use them because they don’t seem to represent your actual users.

Create a persona to:

Keep users at the center of your process.

Build empathy for users.  

Help you understand users’ attitudes, behaviors, desires, goals, etc.

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