What is a persona
Personas are used by businesses to help visualize market segments. A persona is a collection of relevant information about an archetype of that particular market segment that can be used to make inferences. Information will include an image, demographic information, lifestyle information, product usage information (if relevant), and as much more data as you might find useful. In the context of product management, a product manager would use a well-formed persona to help them plan the product. Basically, the product manager is tasked
with creating a product that people want. But, “people” can never be all inclusive. In other words, a product manager needs to make decisions about who they are building for prior to any actual development, and preferably before much of the product plan has even begun.
So let’s recap.
Will represent a target market for your product
Outlines the major needs of the group, especially as they relate to the product
Describes real people, their goals, values, and demographics
Why use a persona?
Personas provide a lens with which to view product decisions through. They help at the strategic product planning level all the way down to tactical feature decisions. A persona can be used as a reason to justify a product decision to leadership because it shifts strategy conversations away from opinions about what feature should be included to a conversation about what feature persona X will really want.
So a persona helps
Product stakeholders view new feature ideas
Developers to build wireframes, design interactions
Designers to create overall site look and feel
Copywriters to design a tone for the site
For an excellent example persona template check out the UX Lady’s, below. It has all the important components for a great persona, specifically as it relates to the UX experience of a site. It’s important when looking at persona examples, though, that you may want to customize some of the data to your needs. There are no “have-to’s” with personas. If you are not building a new UX experience you may not need some of these fields. You may want to focus more on the types of other products the persona uses.
How to develop a persona
The last thing we are going to cover is how to get started developing a persona for your product. This really comes from talking with your prospective customers (or current customers) and asking them about themselves. If you are doing qualitative testing you may have a lot of this data already, it comes from the introductions at the start of the sessions. If you aren’t sitting down with your customers or prospects, this is step one. You must have open communication with your target market. These conversations will show you a lot about what type of people you are targeting. By collecting information about them and abstracting them into more broad persona archetypes, you will get the information you need to build a robust persona.
If you also have quantitative data as well, such as usage data or competitive use analysis, then you can also add this to your persona. This is a great way to build out the persona to make them more visual and steeped in data. Some upfront work to add quantitative data will pay dividends as you go through your product development cycle.