Personas: Keep your focus on your target audience

I’ve posted recently about prototypes and their importance in the development process. Another important design process is the creation of personas.

Personas - keep your focus on your target audience

Personas – keep your focus on your target audience

What are personas?

The image above is also from my UX talk. I used it to explain about personas and how I like to think about them.

For me personas (in IxD / UX context) are tiny little users which we can talk to, make questions, introduce them to everyone on the team to create empathy. In the beginning we will be strangers to them and vice-versa but that will change!

Those miniature versions of our target audience will be our guide throughout the development process, they are a mirrored version of our real users: they have a name, a picture, a birthday, a gender, they have a story to tell, they have personality, beliefs, necessities, problems etc. We’ll learn to understand them better and, by doing that, we’ll be able to create a better design solution for them.

The fact that they are tiny, a miniature version of a human being, is just to remember us that they are NOT real. I do believe that they must be updated with real users information as we proceed in the development process and gather real users feedback.
There’s a chance that our first personas are incorrect in some way. Taking time to update and evaluate our personas during the process will help us to make corrections.

After several years creating and designing interactive projects together with developers and designers, I’ve learned that it’s easy, specially for new team members, to lose focus on the target audience. This can be dangerous because you can end up with a product or service that is not aligned at all with your target audience, making you lose your investments or to invest more to fix the problems.

By using personas you’ll be able to:

  • Have an idea about what your real target audience will be and behave.
  • Keep your team focused on the target audience through all the development process.
  • Create a more precise and cohesive solution for your target audience.
  • Avoid investment losses or corrections.

Creating personas is an important design tool. It’s important to note though that you should not be thinking only about methodologies. For me it is important to know different design methods and techniques but you should use the methods that are available to you, mixing your knowledge to have better results.