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There are a few types of personas one can create, which help generate benefits persona expert Lene Nielsen describes as increasing the focus on users and their needs, cultivating effective communication, and even focusing design influence. 

To get some foundational understanding, check out “Why Use Personas.”

Engaging personas can include goal-directed and role-oriented personas, as well as the more traditional fiction-based personas. Engaging personas emphasize how stories can engage and bring personas to life. We will cover the process from initial data collection, active use, and continued use of personas.

The ten steps we are sharing is an ideal process, yet not always feasible. This process is based on Nielsen’s article entitled “Personas,” found in the Interaction Design Foundation encyclopedia.

  1. Collect data. Learn as much as you can about your customers. Perform high-quality customer research, using your existing customers as the target group to learn who else may want your product or service. In Design Thinking, the research phase is also known as the Empathy Phase.
  2. Form a hypothesis.  Based on your research, you will form a general idea of the various potential customers who may value your produce or service. Keep in mind that your customers may differ from one another. Tools you might want to consider to help with this are Affinity Diagrams and Empathy Maps.
  3. Everyone accepts the hypothesis. The goal is to support or reject your initial hypothesis about the differences between your customers. You can do this by confronting research participants with the theory as compared to existing experiences and knowledge.
  4. Establish a number. You will decide upon the final number of personas it makes sense for you to create. Ideally, you want to create more than one persona for each product or service. However, you should always choose only one persona as your primary focus.
  5. Describe the personas. Working with personas is to develop solutions, products, and services based on your customers’ needs and goals. Be sure to describe your personas to express enough understanding and empathy with your customers. This includes:
    • Details about the customer’s education, lifestyle, interest, goals, values, needs, limitations, desires, attitudes, and patterns of behavior
    • Add a few personal details to make the persona a realistic character
    • Give each of your personas a name
    • Provide a picture for each persona
  6. Prepare situations or scenarios for your personas. The intention is to come up with a method for creating scenarios that describe solutions. It would help if you described several specific situations that would make your customer look for your product or service. Scenarios usually start by placing the persona within a particular context with the problem they want or need to solve
  7. Obtain acceptance from the organization. It is normal throughout all these steps to involve the project participants. Participation in the development of personas from as many team members as possible is critical to obtain acceptance of, recognition of, and empathy for the personas.
  8. Disseminate knowledge. For the participants to use this method, the persona descriptions must be shared with everyone. It is vital to decide early in the process just how you want to share this knowledge with those who have not been part of the process. Doing so allows you to share it with all stakeholders, even as new ones are added.
  9. Everyone prepares scenarios. Personas have no value in and of themselves until the persona becomes part of a scenario. This is the story about how the persona uses your product or service. If this cannot be done, then your persona does not have any real value.
  10. Make ongoing adjustments. The last step is to ensure the future life of your persona descriptions. Revising the descriptions regularly and keeping a keen eye for new information will allow you to grow as your customer base also grows and matures.

Personas may seem confusing and time-consuming to create; however, they allow you to get to know your customers and build solutions to their specific needs. In doing so, you can thrive.

To learn more about putting this concept into action, reach out to our coaching team.