A Guide to Personas

What are personas?

In essence, a persona is a character, a representation of a type of user that makes us feel connected to our customers. Based upon research it’s a short story that describes your user’s emotions, frustrations, goals, and interests. 

A persona is a frame of reference when presenting your work to stakeholders, discussing solutions with colleagues and a constant reminder of who you’re designing for.

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Designing persona’s is a great way to kick off your project. The exercise is good in itself because it brings you closer to your audience and it’s great to include any research you may already have. If you have access to analytics on your current product then take a look in detail at any information you can get on your customers, where their from, their age and check to see if there is anything that stands out?

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If you work in a company where you can speak to your customers then this is an amazing way to gather data, nothing beats actually speaking to real people and finding out why they come to your business for a solution.

Social Media is another good way to find out more information. If your company has a facebook or twitter account check it out and see they type of questions and interactions that are happening on there.

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If you don’t have access to any of this information it’s always worth asking the marketing department of your company. Sometimes they commission research and may have some persona’s that you don’t know about.

Don’t worry if you’re starting a new company or product, persona’s can be your target audience, women aged 18-30 for example. You can create a persona and always update later if you pivot or get new information.

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I really recommend the website You Gov at today.yougov.com/profileslite. Here you can type in any brand or business, even location and they generate a persona from their stored profiles. It’s well worth checking out as the free data is realy good.

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When creating a persona there is no set formula as to what information to include, although the main purpose is to bring to life your users pain points so be sure to touch upon this. There is always a motivation behind everything we do and there will be a reason why people will come to your product. 

A persona should be realistic not idealized. Stay away from cheesy stock photography and include a short description about the characters background. Try not to be too unrealistic in what you write and include a quote at the end that sums up the user’s attitude in general, this could be towards the product or service. 

It’s important to include information about what type of device the user would regularly use. They could be a teenager and browse mostly on an iphone or an elderly person on a desktop computer, this will definitely have an effect when it comes to design. You can really go to town on what you include and as long as it paints a picture of your user then it’s going to be useful.

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The best way to design a persona is to imagine that it’s going to be stuck up on the wall for everyone in the team to see. This is the most powerful way to get your information across and it’s always good to get the team involved. If you spend all this time creating something and then send it as an email you’re wasting your time. You want this to be seen throughout the project and where better than printed off and stuck up on the office wall. 

Make sure your font’s are large and readable and that you include a convincing picture. There is a great free set online that I use on flickr, the link is quite long so I have included it under the video.

Don’t forget you can have as many different persona’s as you want depending on the size of your business. When I was working for a bank we had more than 10, because there were so many different products we created one for each type of customer.

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Persona’s are a great way to start the research phase. It’s really important to know who you are designing for and what problem you’re trying to solve. Almost 90% of new companies fail because they create something that no one want’s. A lot of these companies could of been saved by using personas to understand their users. You can create the best product in the world but if it doesn’t solve a problem then it’s going to fail.

In the next video we are going to use our persona’s to create a customer journey. This is a scenario in which we visualise how our user interacts with what we are creating. We’ll have a much better understanding of the whole system and it’s a great way to show our vision for the project. See you there

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Arbaaz Khan
Member
Arbaaz Khan

at 2:53 of the video What are User Personas used for, what does go to town mean in this context?

Arbaaz Khan
Member
Arbaaz Khan

Hi Antony, could you remove the video thumbnails at the end of the videos ,as it hides some text on the screen.

Diego Berlin
Member

Can’t find the link to flickr.