A Persona is a fictitious person designed to represent a user or stakeholder for a particular product or service. They are designed to as closely represent a natural person as realistically possible and serve to organize implementation and process details under the umbrella of an end user. Personas also help designers and developers empathize with their end users by anchoring project objectives around a concrete audience, giving teams a powerful tool to aid in the creative process. Personas are an invaluable resource for development teams and clients alike, and knowing how to create and use them can help elevate your solution above and beyond client expectations.
So, how should a Persona look?
A Persona should look and feel like a natural person, not just a nameless role at a company or a collection of asks and pain points. Personas are given names, have ages, have roles and responsibilities, have relationships, and are represented by images of real people. A Persona’s level of detail and areas of focus will change based on the needs of the client and the project, but some typical details one would include are:
Remember that Personas are a visual deliverable. What separates Personas from a list of bullet points on a notes document is the visible organization, color, and imagery you include in your deliverable – So make it look nice!
Some companies may have specific preferences around personas. For example, ensure you know if your client wants their personas to have pronouns. Additionally, you should consider diversity and inclusion when designing your personas, as chances are, not everyone who works at your client’s company is a white man. Lastly, try to get your pictures from your clients directly or through their websites. If you can’t, stock photos will do.
All of this sounds great, but what is the point? Why create Personas when you could keep a list of bullet points somewhere in your notes? Personas are an immensely valuable deliverable for you and your stakeholders. Personas help organize and categorize your data into an easily digestible, visually appealing document. They help create empathy for developers, leading to a more customized and well-fit solution for the end users.
Additionally, by laying out Persona Pain Points and Wish Lists in an easily digestible format, you will generate buy-in from your stakeholders, as they can empathize with their users and better understand the importance of the project. Personas also make an excellent backlog for future implementations, as any pain points or asks that don’t make it into the final solution can be added as a phase 2 or separate project.
How do I make a Persona?
Now that you know what a Persona is, what it should look like, and why they are valuable deliverables, you may wonder how to make them. Below is an example of what a typical, simple Persona might look like:
As you can see, this particular Persona includes:
Personas may include more detailed information in these categories or more pages with additional types, such as Tools Used, Devices Used, Relationships with other Personas/Business Units, etc. Personas are highly flexible and can be adapted to the specific information the project requires.
Personas may be used to ideate on potential solutions or implementation directions for a large, loosely defined project as part of a roadmap initiative, or they may be targeted toward solving specific organizational challenges. Once you have identified how your Personas will be used and the type of information you need, you will need to begin meeting with the end users that the Personas represent in discovery sessions. Typically, the business analyst and/or the project leads will meet with 1-2 users at a time and run through a list of interview-style questions to acquire the information needed to move the project forward. That information is later distilled and organized into Personas.
Personas are a powerful tool to have in your arsenal. Whether you are finding your direction on an extensive roadmap or targeting specific organizational or role-based challenges, Personas can be tailored to adapt to your particular project objectives. By humanizing and organizing information about your end users, you can create empathy and buy-in for your stakeholders and your implementation team and even use Personas to direct stakeholders toward future implementations. So, get out there and make some Personas!