Modern mobile users are used to sleek, clear, and uber-usable apps. So, how does a company go about building a user-centered application without approaching real customers on the street? The answer - use Personas.
Personas help guide both the prototyping and the feature selection process and aid in providing a valuable User Experience. What is a persona exactly? It is a one or two page definition of a customer who fits your target market segment, but it’s much more than that. Personas are at the heart of user-centered design and development.
Here are five reasons why using personas will make your application great:
Personas Reflect Real ‘Customers’
Personas are crafted to reflect core groups of users. Like principal characters in a novel, personas have key roles within the planning of an app. Well-crafted characters never step outside expectations given their traits. Even when they surprise us, an underlying motivation reveals a hidden, but understandable trait. The good news is that a cast of thousands is not required. Typically, five or six is all you need. With this main cast of personas, all features can be easily mapped.
Personas Help to Define ‘Preferences’
Users have strong preferences and embracing that will improve user experience. Your millennial persona for example, may prefer to visit your site on a mobile device, loves Instagram, and customizing their experience. Your senior persona, on the other hand, might only use a desktop, prefer Facebook, and a ‘straight to the point’ interface. Personas can be built to encompass demographics, preferences, tastes, lifestyles and interests which can impact how content and functionality is structured within an application or a product.
Personas Are Born From Real ‘Data’
Personas are not created strictly from the team’s imagination. They are backed up by research, studies, statistics, polls, and user feedback. Personas are informed by real world data and they can morph and change over time based on feedback from an application’s development iterations. Individual opinions are tempered so they adequately reflect a combination or a grouping of users’ needs.
Personas Guide the ‘Spirit’ of the Application
Accurate personas help define and provide guidance for additional features. They help to guide design by keeping the user top of mind throughout the life cycle of a project, and shape the ideas and true intent of the software. After a number of iterations, personas are a touchstone to ensure the application hasn’t strayed from a ‘preferred’ user experience and still services users’ needs.
Personas Bring ‘Real World’ Scenarios With Them
If a given persona truly reflects a composite of customers, then it will bring forth real world use cases that will help define an accurate user journey through the system. As an example, they can model different time-of-use scenarios such as usage on-the-go, within a bricks and mortar location, at work, or at home.
The user experience bar is set high these days and great design wins the UX battle. Be sure to include the creation of personas at the start of the design so that every web experience you create will surprise and delight and appeal to all of your expected users, and maybe some unexpected users too. Let the personas speak for themselves and make your application great.