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Is your product universal and can be used by anybody? Is it easy to use by both very advanced and basic users of the computers? You can look at your product from different perspectives with the User Personas.
Persona is a representation of a major group of users in your system. Such users will have a different background, desires and needs, goals, skills and capabilities.
Why Personas are a good tool in designing your product? Modeled just like real people, they help to answer the following questions:
- is this system usable by such a person?
- can this system be used comfortably in this shape by them?
- does the system empower the user to achieve their goals and be effective?
Let's look at a sample product and personas who would be modeled for it: an online shop selling home decor and accessories.
Meet Kathy, she's the shop catalog curator. She's a creative, happy, and curious person. Her children are already in school age, so she prefers simple decorations that will survive their running and playing. She likes bright and spacious areas filled with plants and colorful details. She doesn't use computers much, but loves scrapbooking, saying "it's just faster". She wants to be able to quickly collect different products and arrange them easily into exciting collages of colors and shapes. Kathy doesn't necessarily bother to see which products are selling better than others, she's an artist. In that same fashion, she doesn't pay much attention to the prices.
Meet Robert, he's the marketing director. He's a curious and friendly person. His children are already in college. He likes the feeling of solace when he's "crunching the numbers" on his computer, copying the data from one program to another. Robert doesn't visually consider products but sees them as verticals, categories, tags, and identifiers. He wants to be able to quickly find the information he needs.
Meet Skip, he works in the logistics center. He's a dynamic young man, who can't sit in one place. Live moves fast, so does Skip. He works uses the logistics center terminal to find, collect, and package products. That's why he wants to operate as quickly and efficiently as possible. He doesn't have time to consider the shade of the product, but rather would like to scan the code and be on his way.
As you can see, the three sample employee personas can tell you a lot about themselves, but also about the product they use.
Kathy is a typical visual thinker, she will require features like searching by color and visual representation of the collected products. Shapes, colors, sizes will be important to her. Numerical information or identifiers are secondary.
Robert, on the other hand, is an analytical thinker. He will feel more comfortable being able to see the numbers and relations between them, dashboards and graphs. Features like data export will be crucial for his effectiveness.
Skip is a physical worker, so from his perspective features that optimize his workflow are critical: barcodes, explicit product locations, easy inventory. Due to his work, he can use a dedicated and specialized device.
How to start with Personas? There are a few ways to detect and define Personas for your product:
- conduct user research,
- ask potential users,
Whichever approach you chose, try to make the personas realistic and relatable. Think about what are their goals, needs. desires, and background.
Don't forget to consider their technical skills and capabilities, used devices (desktop, tablet, phone, other?), and their preferred working style.
A well-defined persona casts the light on the missing requirements of your product, so try to have a diverse and varied pool of them.
How many Personas should be created? As a rule of thumb: aim for at least twice as many personas, as many user roles your product will support.
In the case of the sample online store, we had at least 3 roles: marketing, catalog, logistics. Kathy, Roger, and Skip were only the simple sample, but having more Personas will help detect important functionality and features that could have been overlooked.
Using personas is a great way to kickstart the creative process of designing your product, see requirements, and keep an open mind for various needs and requirements of the users.
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