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Personas. And why we use them in UX – by Jenny Lardh

Personas are great artefacts to create within a project or product development. A persona is a fictional character representing a typical user within a user population. It’s a research outcome that will mirror who your users are.

I love using personas to demonstrate specific characteristics, needs and frustrations within my users. It will help the team and stakeholders create empathy for who they are developing their product for and get to know the user population on a closer, more personal level.

There are 3 different types of personas to use within your project

A light touch persona

This can be based on desktop research alone. It might not fully mirror your users, but depending on the product, this can still be beneficial.

Qualitative persona

The most common persona is based on real users from your user population. It will often mirror a combination of different users within the same user type you have spoken to with real life examples and pain points.

Anti-persona

Not as commonly known or used. An anti-persona reflects a user that you want to avoid or lock out from your service or product because they might want to break into it or use it in an unlawful or dangerous way—for example, a hacker.

Building a persona

When creating a persona, I always like to consider details such as a headshot image, name, profession, and summary of the person and their frustrations. However, you can add anything you feel will best reflect your users for the product you are designing, such as how experienced someone is with similar products, general digital skills, industry knowledge, and tools. The list is endless. Where possible, I will always try to use a photo of a real person to make the persona seem more real and increase the empathy.

Personas don’t need to be a one-off creation. As your research and understanding of users evolve throughout the product lifecycle, it is also a great idea to evolve your personas.

 

How many personas does it take to create a project?

It is a question I’ve asked myself. And the answer depends on the project or product you are currently working on. I often define the number of personas by examining the user’s goals. If they have different end goals, I would consider creating a separate persona for each. You can also look at the group they belong to, such as if they are an external or internal user, if they belong to a specific age range or if their work differs vastly from each other.

Ultimately there is no set number of personas needed. It’s up to you as the UX Designer to make these decisions as you see fit. It’s your research, and you are the one that will get to know your users the best and can decide how to showcase them to help your team and stakeholders best. And besides, these are meant to be living artefacts. You can always update and add more personas when you feel it’s needed.

Personas are for life(cycle), not just for kick-off

I like to use personas throughout the entire lifecycle of a product, and I like to make them as visible to the development team as possible. I once saw big posters of user personas printed out and hanging up in the office. The personas were visible to the development team every day. I loved this!

I’ve heard happy shout outs from team members during refinement sessions, “This one’s for Sarah!” (Our ‘new user’ persona with ‘little industry knowledge’).

 

We hope that you have found this blog useful. If you are interested in UX or have a question for the Triad UX team, please get in touch  https://triad.kinocreative.uk/contact