Using personas to keep user-focused

From building a website to developing a new service, conducting user research is the first and most important step of any design process. But how can you communicate the results in a way that’s meaningful to others? That’s where personas step in.

What is a persona?

Personas are fictional characters created to represent the main types of customers (or users) that might use a site, brand or product. They put a ‘real’ face to otherwise dry data.

Why use personas?

Personas are developed to put customers at the heart of the design process. By continually referring to your personas as actual people – e.g. ‘What would Anna think about that?’ – you’re keeping the needs of your customers front and centre.

What kind of information should you include?

It varies from project to project and depends on the requirements of the design team, but most personas contain:

  • a description that briefly summaries demographic information, such as their age, job or marital status
  • pictures to help make the persona real and more empathetic
  • information on the their behaviours, attitudes and needs.

Other useful information may include:

  • a quote that summaries the persona in a single sentence
  • scenarios or sample use cases that clarify how they might interact with what you’re developing.

What do I do with these personas?

Print them out, stick them on a wall and refer to them often. Personas only work if you’re serious about customer-centric design.

Need some ideas? Check out an example persona from a recent project (bearing in mind we’ve removed all the identifying details). We were helping our client understand requirements for a new digital workplace, and this persona was one of six that we used to communicate interview findings.

Getting serious about UX? Give us a call. We’re happy to chat.