Crafting User Experience Personas – 352 Noodles & Doodles

It’s all well and good to build yourself a website, but who is that website for? Obviously, you can’t track down every user and ask what they’d like in a website, but there are tools to make sure that you’re providing a good experience for all the major audiences your website needs to reach. They’re called user experience personas, and they should direct most content, design and development decisions that goes into your site.

Once you’ve done your research and gotten your stakeholders on the same page, user personas are the next step to creating an incredible user experience. In this week’s Noodles & Doodles, I’ll walk you through the process of creating user experience personas and set you on the path to happy users. Enjoy!

Transcript below.

Image credit: Nlan86 CC BY-SA 3.0

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[Kate Griggs:] Hi. I’m Kate. I’m a Scrum Master here at 352, and today I’m going to talk to you about user experience personas.
 
So what is a persona? It’s a fictional representation of your target users that represent your customer base. We create user personas to help guide us in making decisions throughout your product development. These are decisions like navigation, interaction, functionality and features, even visual design. So before you start creating your user personas, you’re going to have to do some research. Talk to your key stakeholders, figure out what they think is important. Reach out to your customer support department. They’ll have great insight. You may even want to do some direct user observation and interviews. So after you collect your information, now you’re ready to create. We’re going to start with the basics. Give them a name and then provide them a picture.
 
A good rule of thumb here is to stay away from celebrities or models or people that you know. It may be really fun to imagine Katy Perry using your product, but in terms of being realistic and credible, that’s just not the way that you want to go. So now that you’ve got a name and a picture, the fun part is putting in the descriptions. So these are descriptions that are important details and facts about your person. These are age demographics. These are their technical knowledge. Do they own a computer? Do they use it often? How do they use their cell phones? Do they use it for more than calls and texts? What kind of activities do they do during the day? Their behavioral traits, their likes and dislikes. And make sure to keep it really relevant. Some tips for creating personas are you’re going to want to stay away from keeping it too bloated or detailed. It may be really fun after you get something developed to say, “Hey, Peter really likes making spaghetti on Wednesday nights.” It can be fun, but is it relevant? Will it help make those decisions for your product? The next thing is a lot of people think that they need 40 or 50 personas for their user base or website or product, but we found that 6 is a really great place to be. If you find you have more than six, take a look and try to consolidate them into smaller groups. You’ll find that they’ll start to sort themselves.

And then, after you get them all developed, you can start using them to help you create these user stories and really guide your direction as your development progresses. You’re going to write your story, “As Peter, I would like to communicate via live chat with support over a contact form so that I feel more comfortable, so that I feel like I’m being listened to.” It all matters on what your users deem important.

After you get all of your personas together, you’ll start to make new stories based on just the users you love. You’ll say, “Hey, Shelly really wants to review her purchase, I think, before she puts in her credit card information, or Mark couldn’t find that link, I don’t think. We should probably make it more apparent.”

So now you can go out into the world and start creating your user personas, and let us know in the comment section tips and tools that you use on a daily basis to create your personas. We’ll try to use them ourselves.

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  • Christopher Burns

    Funny you mentioned Katy Perry, she has actually used every website I’ve ever made. And by used it, I mean it’s because she’s used the internet on Thursdays while making spaghetti and my websites were on the internet. But in all seriousness, I love using personas. It makes it much easier for me to identify with “Peter” than “the user who needs read access with limited write access”.

  • http://twitter.com/brittneysheff Brittney Sheffield

    Great how-to video on crafting user #personas by @kategrix for ‘s Noodles & Doodles series. http://t.co/R9TbTT9nvN

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