Week 5: Personas

Summary

A user persona is representative of the goals and behaviours of a hypothetical group of users. User personas are often created after collecting data from users, which is applied to form a one to two page ‘profile’ to capture behaviour patterns, goals, skills, attitudes and the environment (or context).

A User Persona includes data such as:

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Occupation
  • Hobbies
  • Likes/dislikes
  • Other details germane to the product, such as:
    – behaviour patterns
    – goals
    – skills
    – attitudes
    – the environment (or context)

It also includes the personalities of these people, knowing their mindset and values.

Watch this video below, or click here to learn more about creating User Personas.

Large vs Small Audience

A universal design means that you are designing for any and all people. This makes it hard to design because you have so many possibilities across a variety of user preferences. You can narrow down concepts by identifying your core audience and your fringe audience. Focusing on your core audience mean that you cover a large portion of your users, hoping that the fringe audience will be pleased by the design also.

Designing for a small audience is much more different. Catering for a small audience often means a more specific and almost intimate experience, which may tempt you not to develop user personas because you feel much closer. However, this provides the opportunity to get more specific with your personas. Utilise research to gain insight and detail intricacies of users.
Get feedback from your users where you can, this will give you a thumbs up or a thumbs down for concepts and project details. It will help you gain feedback information to improve your project and inform you of what you’re doing right, and what you’re doing wrong. It can also expand you mind to be open to new ideas or be inspired.

When creating personas, we need to ask:

WHAT
…are the tasks the user is trying to perform?
…are there different tasks for each persona?
…are we designing in the experience?

HOW
…do we design for users who want to browse vs. users want specific content?
…the user will react?
…the user will interact?

Mental Models

The thoughts that people form around an idea or activity. They vary for each person. Mental Models are incredibly important in the user experience because they illustrate how a user approaches a particular problem. Use Mental Models to reflect o your user personas, design flow and interaction.

For a more detailed and broad look at Mental Models, click here.

Artefact Personas

Artefact means the project or product.

This is useful for project meetings. You should ask artefact persona questions, such as:

  • If the interface were a person, what would he or she be like?
  • How would you expect users to react when they first use the product?
  • How would you describe this product to a friend?
  • How is the product different from other competitive products on the market?
  • Which celebrity (or car, movie, etc.) is the product most like?

These are the type of questions you can ask to build an idea of the design personality.

Experience Key Words

List and group any descriptive word or phrases that recur during meetings and interviews, these will outline and build the foundation of the final experience key words to the use in the design.
The core key words will be used to drive the visual strategy. The key words should be grouped into 3 to 5 groups that contain a particular theme or element.
Once the final key words have been chosen, accompany them with other words to clarify their meaning.

Reflection

The inclusion of user personas and research is such an important part of a design process because it gives a valuable insight into the demands of the user and what course of action is best suited to provide the right design factors. User personas and research allow you, as the designer, to reflect on your work and ensure you are constructing a solid research and evidence basis for your project. This, in turn, will create the best possible solution for the user.

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