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How Personas Help Design Great User Experiences

How Personas Help Design Great User Experiences

How Personas Help Design Great User Experiences

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Tech consumers have very specific wants and needs when it comes to their mobile devices. They want sleek, clear, and uber-usable apps and have no patience for a poor user experience. So, how can you make sure you’re building a user-centered application if you don’t have the means to get feedback from real potential customers? The answer: by using personas.

Personas are short profiles, typically one or two pages in length, that describe a user representative of your target market segment. They help guide both the feature selection process and prototyping of a product and aid in designing a valuable user experience. While simple in concept, the importance of personas cannot be understated – they are at the heart of user-centered design.

Here are five reasons why using personas will make your products great.

Personas Reflect Real Customers

Personas are crafted to reflect core user groups. In many ways, they are like the main characters of the planning of an app – playing a key role in the story and never stepping outside expectations dictated by their traits. Even when they act in seemingly unexpected ways, all it takes to understand them is one look at their underlying motivations, which often reveal hidden yet understandable characteristics. Because personas represent people distilled to their core traits, a cast of thousands is not required to portray your entire user base. Typically, five or six are all you need to map your entire target audience’s features.

Personas Help Define Preferences

Everyone has preferences for just about anything you can think of – food, clothes, music, art, you name it. Digital is no different. Embracing users’ preferences when it comes to technology will only improve the user experience you provide. Say you have a Millennial persona; they may prefer to visit your site on a mobile device, love Instagram, and expect a customized experience. A senior persona, on the other hand, might only use a desktop, prefer Facebook, and favour a straight-to-the-point interface. Personas should encompass demographics, habits, tastes, lifestyles and interests, each of which impacts how you choose to structure content and functionality within an application or a product.

Personas Are Born From Real Data

Personas should not spawn strictly from your team’s imagination: they must be backed by real world data from research, studies, statistics, polls, and user feedback. Individual opinions are averaged over your entire research sample, so your personas represent an accurate composite of your users’ wants and needs. You’ll also have to keep an eye on your personas over time as, just like real people, they are not set in stone and will morph and change over time – notably based on the feedback you get during the application or product development process.

Personas Guide The Spirit Of The Application

Accurate personas help define your product's structure and provide guidance for features to incorporate. They inform the design process by keeping the user top of mind throughout the life cycle of a project and shape the essence and true intent of your product. Personas remain essential even after your product has gone through multiple iterations, as they become a touchstone to ensure it hasn’t strayed from your target audience’s preferred experience and still services your users’ needs.

Personas Bring Real World Scenarios With Them

If a given persona truly reflects your customers, it brings forth real world user cases that can be used to define an accurate user journey. For instance, you can use your persona’s preferences and habits to model different time-of-use scenarios such as usage on-the-go, within a brick and mortar location, at work, or at home.

The user experience bar is set higher than ever these days, but just as it always was, great design wins the UX battle. By including the creation of personas at the start of your design process, you can make sure that every digital experience you generate surprises and delights all your anticipated users, and maybe some unexpected ones too. Simply let your personas speak for themselves to take all your products a step further.

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