What are personas?

A persona is a behaviour-based, user archetype you can use to make decisions about your product’s features, navigation and design. Personas are presented to the design team as a single human with a name, face, attitudes, and goals.

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– Ali Vassigh, Whirlpool Corporation.

Why develop personas?

Personas simplify design by encouraging stakeholders to focus on the highest priority needs of the highest priority users. By designing for the archetype — whose goals and behaviour patterns are well understood — you will satisfy the broader group of people represented by that archetype.

Case study: Persona development for a large corporate Intranet

A financial institution wanted to ensure that their new intranet was driven by user needs and not by technology. The management team wanted an Intranet that helped employees do their jobs quickly and easily, avoided "silo thinking", and encouraged a feeling of ownership and contribution. We were commissioned to develop a set of personas that described the users of the Intranet. Read persona case study.

When should I develop personas?

Personas should be developed early in the design process so that all design decisions are based on customers’ goals.

Our approach to developing personas

  • We survey your user base (typically around 5% of users) and use cluster analysis to identify the main categories of end users.
  • We then carry out interviews with people within these segments. We usually interview 20-25 people to explore the goals, behaviours and attitudes of each person in a lot more depth.

What do I get?

Each persona is captured in a 1-2 page description that includes behaviour patterns, goals, skills, attitudes, and environment, with a few fictional personal details to bring the persona to life. On a typical project, we expect to derive 3-4 personas.

Why Userfocus?

Our consultants have a track record of creating robust personas based on field research, contextual inquiry and customer interviews. For example, our field research for clients as diverse as Tetra Pak, RBS and Orange has involved contextual interviews at people's places of work, combined with web and paper surveys and telephone interviews. We will be able to carry over this expertise when we develop personas for your project.

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