What’s the benefit of user personas? Our most successful persona started working… the same day! Funnily enough, it was a segment we initially missed in our user research.
Albert represents a segment of our internal users who are very costly to the company, even though it’s not the biggest segment of all. Kicking off exactly on the day of introducing the Albert persona to people from outside of our team, ideas for improvement started flowing from everywhere. We discovered very quickly, that with minimum effort, we can help most of the Alberts and save the company quite a lot of money at the same time.
User research first
This is very important. Before creating a persona profile, it’s crucial to do user research. I’d recommend to do both – qualitative (interviews) and quantitive (data) forms of research. The more, the better. And don’t stop just there.
What to include in a persona profile? A lot depends on the actual characteristics, however there are some key elements, which I believe are absolute minimum. These are:
- Name, surname, photo
- Tag line
Important parts of our personas are also:
- KPIs they influence
- A day in the life of
- Software systems they use
- The Goals section is the most important part.
- Make the surname representative of a feature within the segment.
- High quality photos showing more than just the face and the real environment of the persona tend to work best.
- Don’t segment your users based on demographics. User goals are the criterium for it.
- Some demographics will however, make the profile more personal and easier to believe (“yes, it’s a human…”).
- Not all personas are equally important. Decide on which persona is primary, secondary or excluded.
- Quote your persona using the language they would use.
- Give examples as opposed to being generic.
- Try to fit within 1 page.
Keeping personas alive
Even the best personas might not work if they are not communicated properly. Make sure you keep them alive – you can quote them in user stories within the backlog, display their profiles all around the office or even (like we did) order a life-size cardboard cutout! This might seem a bit strange, but it will definitely trigger a lot of conversations around user centric design.