Creating design personas is a part of research before designing an application or website. Perhaps, skilled designers would want to neglect this part, because they already know everything. But without research, there’s high chance and you can make a mistake. And for beginners it’s even more difficult to understand what the user needs.
In the design of websites and mobile applications, design persona is the description of a fictional person based on the target audience of the product. It’s like an artistic character that looks like a role model.
Creating design personas helps to dive into the product, understand the behavior of real people and use it in the design process. It’s much easier to make a good product when you know users’ purposes.
Example from www.dribbble.com.
The basis of a good product is empathy. Personas help us to understand what our user lives for, his thoughts, desires and tasks. When we have a list of personas, we design the product not for the abstract user, but for specific people, we know what disturbs them and can help to solve their problems.
Good design personas help to represent the main user group and focus on their work, expectations and needs. It gives an understanding of how the product will be used and what are the main functions in it.
Primary and secondary research can help you there. Primary research is direct interaction with users: interviews, observation and experiments. But such studies are more costly than secondary research — a study of open sources, trends and statistics.
Detailed design personas, based on interviews and experiments are always good, but aren’t always real. Lack of resources and rapid product development impose its limitations. But even in this situations a quick sketch of a personas is better than nothing.
There are several options to learn more about your users. You can search among friends, or create a rough portrait and then check its compliance on a similar colleague. Or peek at competitors (Read more in article The UX Designer’s 5-Minute Guide to Lean Personas).
The recommended number of design personas is from 3 to 5. But the only one persona should be the main. Otherwise, it will be difficult to focus on the main tasks.
The main information is good to highlight with color (image from www.medium.com).
Usually there are some main characteristics of a design personas:
Don’t forget to give names for your personas, so they could give the impression of a real person whom you can empathize easier.
Then designer’s task is to understand what these people are doing and why, what difficulties, emotional and physical needs they have and what values they share.
Have you found out details about the users, be sure to add it to design personas. It helps to understand the user’s mind, worldview, desires and daily tasks.More about the role of research in the design process.
There is no need to create new personas for every project. You can save time and create base for it, and then — use in all projects (and refine if it’s necessary). The main thing is to have structured information by hand and understand that the person is the voice of the user.
A sheet of paper with persona description won’t give much to a designer. It’s important to put design personas in the context of using the product or service. This will help to see the problems and start solving them.
Design persona for application (image from www.dribbble.com).
Example of design persona (image from ).
In one of Fingers’ recent projects we had a task to redesign an application interface. The user survey allowed us to select three design personas, understand which interfaces they are used to, what they like and dislike, and what problems they have. This information had become an important basis for further work on the project. For example, there was no need to choose from a variety of possible visual styles, because we already knew what users are used to and what they expect.
Design, and it should not be neglected. Personas will help to understand your users, their problems and motivation, create reasonable UX and friendly interfaces. Personas can be used to approve or disapprove the ideas during design process and identify the priority of the features, or to check whether the existing product meets the needs of users.
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