What are Personas?
Simply put, “Personas are fictional characters” (“Personas”, 2013). They are created to represent real groups of users so you, as a designer, can reference specific people when making design decisions.
What is the Purpose of a Persona?
A persona is used to generalize the characteristics of a large group of similar users into a single identity. The goal of this generalization is to create a character whose personality, desires, responsibilities, background, and environment are relatable to a wide variety of potential users that can be referenced when design decisions are made. For example, instead of asking, “Do we think this would be an effective design for our home screen?” designers who have a persona to reference can ask, “How do you think John would interact with this particular layout for our home screen?” As stated on Usability.gov, “Personas help to focus decisions surrounding site components by adding a layer of real-world consideration to the conversation” (“Personas”, 2013).
What Should a Persona Look Like?
According to Usability.gov, some elements of an effective persona include:
- Persona Group (i.e. web manager)
- Fictional name
- Job titles and major responsibilities
- Demographics such as age, education, ethnicity, and family status
- The goals and tasks they are trying to complete using the site
- Their physical, social, and technological environment
- A quote that sums up what matters most to the persona as it relates to your site
- Casual pictures representing that user group (“Personas”, 2013)
How do I Create a Persona?
In order to create a single fictional character that represents many unique individuals, you need to know who those unique individuals are. This can only be discovered through thorough research, including surveys, statistical and other data, focus groups, personal interviews, and any other form of ethical research, whether quantitative or qualitative, you think may be useful in getting to know your users. Once you have a solid idea of who your users are and what they want/expect from your product, you will then be able to start creating a persona.
There is not a perfect method for creating a persona. The amount of detail that will need to go into a persona, as well as how many personas you will need for each project in order to represent the full breadth of potential users, will vary based on the size and scope of each individual project. However, some helpful tips can be found in the video "How to Create UX Personas" (the URL to the video can be found in the Works Cited section below).
How To Create UX Personas, 17 May 2015, youtu.be/B23iWg0koi8.
“Personas.” Usability.gov, Department of Health and Human Services, 9 Oct. 2013, www.usability.gov/how-to-and-tools/methods/personas.html.
Here are some links to additional information about personas if you have other questions or just want to learn more: