Date Posted: November 22, 2017Reading time: 4 minutes
Over the years, personas have fluctuated in popularity as people began questioning their purpose. When they first came to be, they were used by marketing teams to describe people’s feelings, preferences, and behaviors. Soon after, digital teams began using them, but mostly in the context of describing why people do what they do. Today, with multi-disciplinary teams working together on projects every day, a relevant persona combines both approaches for a more holistic representation.
A persona is an existing or ideal representation of a group of humans that use or interact with your service, product, website, or brand in a similar way. For example, a group could represent a subset of people who use your website to learn about your services. Personas leverage a human-centered approach to collecting, summarizing and communicating research to make trends and patterns more relatable and actionable. At the end of the day, personas acknowledge that different humans have different needs and expectations.
Personas help you gain an understanding of a particular group’s needs, attitudes, behaviors, and goals. However, not all personas are created equal. Beware of the persona that isn’t founded in research or only incorporates favorable research; you will travel down a dangerous path of misrepresenting and under-valuing your users if internal understanding or assumptions guide persona development.
It’s easy to get caught up in how a persona is delivered visually, but remember not to lose sight of what truly matters: the fundamental understanding of the user group. Clearly expressing a persona is important in sharing the persona information across internal teams to guide ideation and strategy processes.
Ultimately, we create personas to connect with our audience and inspire our teams. While not an extensive list, here are some of the ways personas allow us to do this:
Personas are an important way to keep the voice and interests of your users top-of-mind, but it’s important to recognize that your users are real humans who are complex, with ever-changing needs, attitudes, behaviors, and goals. To keep personas current, you should continue having conversations with your users and commit to maintaining the personas as living and breathing documents.
Here’s a quick checklist to use when assessing the relevancy of your personas: