Personas - behövs de?
Personas are used in many web projects as part of the pre-study work. The purpose is to illustrate the target groups by making models in the form of fictional, but "real" and complete personalities. That is, to describe the U in UX (User Experience). But is personas really necessary? The answer depends on several factors, and I will try to clarify these.
- Demographics or empathy?
- What should a persona contain?
- Watch out for the traps
- So, do we need them?
Demographics or empathy?
To describe typical customers, you can look at data from an existing website, interview people in the city, or brainstorm properties. Then the individuals are suitably grouped into clusters with similar characteristics and needs. Now we have a first sorting to start from. When it comes to the internet or e-commerce, it can be good to look at buying patterns (how much, how often, how fast, product categories) or internet habits (digital native, beginner, mobile-only). Of course, you can then start designing for these clusters of needs, but it turns out that the solutions will be better if you can understand the customers' situation "for real", ie that you feel empathy with the target groups even if you do not belong to the target group yourself. This is a reason to create more complete type customers or personas.
What should a persona contain?
There are countless templates for personas online, but some typical and necessary ingredients are:
- A descriptive name (Roger Regular, Geeky George, etc.)
- Image (preferably not "stock photo")
- A "story" that provides a small background and perhaps describes the person's everyday life
- Needs (immediate and longer-term)
- Influencers (people, situations)
- Obstacles (which we need to take into account)
- Economic significance (% of turnover) / purchase pattern
- Internet habits (frequency, devices, etc.)
- Other knowledge/skills of importance (professional knowledge, disability)
I always want to come up with scenarios that describe common or expected paths through a website - regardless of whether it is an information web or e-commerce. Where does the visitor come from? What do we want him to do? What actions do we want to pursue? With persona's different glasses, you then test how it would probably work. Scenario reviews can be done before regular user tests to avoid "dead ends" or "dark alleys" where the visitor can get stuck. Personas can also be great when designing campaigns or buying keywords.
What out for the traps
Something to watch out for when developing your personas is that you do not just use yourself and your circle of acquaintances as models. This has also proved important in other IT contexts, such as when teaching an AI, for example. Personas with radically different backgrounds should be included (unless there is a good reason not to). Ethnicity and belief are two factors that can affect how a web service is perceived or works - it can be about the imagery, captions, etc. Some "edge personas" can also be good (Arga Arne, Hesitant Tilda).
So, do we need them?
It all depends on the project's level of ambition and budget. But personally, I think that personas are a good way to illustrate target groups and needs and better than statistics to have as a guide in the design work. It is also useful to see solutions from many different perspectives during the development work. Personas also work regardless of area of competence. A developer can understand the benefits of a particular feature more easily if there are "living" personas to relate to and build great solutions for.
/David Aler, Strategist