Design Series: In the process of defining ...

Design Series: In the process of defining Personas

In our work we focus on our clients and the customers of our clients, better said, the users. An essential aspect of the early stage strategy/concept sprint in our projects is defining personas. This supports our user centric design process or thinking in target group segmentation. Because in the end we want our products to be (contextual) relevant creating valuable and engaging user experiences. Defining personas is one of the tools that we use in applying the service design methodology.

Why essential?

Personas are fictional characters created to represent the different user types within a targeted demographic, which might use a site, brand or product in a similar way. Pretend users, discovered as a byproduct of the research we perform as part of the interaction and user centric design process. By defining a set of attitude and behavioral characteristics — considering the user's goals, skills, desires, limitations, environment/context — we create a common understanding of the final users and valuable insights in their needs.

In the process, it helps to visualize the idea of how the product may look like and it puts focus on what’s really important for the product. Apart from being beneficial to the project team — consisting of a designer, developer and our client’s product owner — it will allow for more inspiration in the product development. We attempt to create a high level of involvement of our clients in the process and trigger their empathic capacity, which will highly benefit our cooperation in the remaining of the process.

The process

The goal of personas is not to represent all audiences or address all needs. Although you write more than one persona, one should always be the primary focus for the overall strategy or design. The other personas are secondary or less important, but act like 'influencer' of the main character. Usually we follow a number of steps in the process of researching and defining personas together with our clients.

Step 1: Market insights — Collect all data and research available and map the insights per target group.

Step 2: Group your findings — All data and input can be divided per group/segment. Prioritize the group that is most important for your product.

Step 3: Get out of the building! — By staying inside, you'll never get a real feeling to the user or the product. So, dive into the context of the user, acquire his mindset and become the user.

Step 4: Bring them to live! — By giving your personas names, hobbies/interests, a family and a job, they start to feel more like real people (your target group) that are actually interested in using your product.

Step 5. Compare with personas of competitors- Define how your personas differ from those of your competitors. What makes them choose and use your product?

How do we define personas?

Step 4 is accompanied by the following questions which will help how to define your personas.

  • What is your persona's sex, age, income etc? What are the psychographics (interests, hobbies, etc)?
  • What are the specific needs, ‘pains and gains’ of your persona?
  • What assumptions drive the behavior of the persona?
  • What kind of brands does the persona use/buy? What is the value of your persona for the brand? What makes this persona your customer?
  • What channels are primarily used for orientation, purchase and service? and in which way? What is the best approach? Focus on online or offline? What tone-of-voice?

When you have all this information segmented, it should give a clear picture of the users’ expectations and how likely they are to use the product. Basically, we can state that writing personas is very essential. Defining the user will not only help to visualize and identify with the user of the product, but it will also drive the content strategy in order to connect and interact with your target audience and followers. It gives meaning to all that comes next in the process and all that relates to the optimal experience we want to create.

What comes next?

In applying the service design, the next step is to focus on mapping the customer journey. Where do you see new opportunities, moments or touch points that the user has with your product in order to improve their experience? You read in in our next article