User Personas: What, Why, and How?
Before beginning a new software project, it’s important that product owners understand who will be using their new software, and why. Creating user personas allows delivery of the most relevant and desired features to the right person at the right time.
User personas are made up representations of ideal customers and are incredibly useful when interviewing real customers in large numbers is out of the question. These fictional profiles will help in decision making when thinking about design and functionality. Product owners should be asking questions like “how would Tim use this feature” or “would Sarah benefit from this?”.
Having a deep understanding of these personas and what motivates them is key to the success of new software.
Here’s an example of a typical user persona:
- 30 years old
- VP of Marketing
- Married with one child
- Type A personality
- 10+ years experience
- Bachelor’s degree
This information may not seem like it would be all that helpful, but it really is. Here are a few ways user personas are beneficial and why you should invest the time into making them:
- They give everyone involved in the project a clear vision of where the frustrations and pain points are, and will ultimately help prioritize certain feature and functions of the new or redesigned software.
- The development team will be able to create a better user experience when they know who the users are. Developers can more easily determine where a feature should reside if they’ve seen your users in action.
- Putting a “face” to a project can help keep everyone on track and focused on who will be ultimately using and benefitting from the build, and deter any personal preferences from sneaking in where they don’t belong.
Every product owner may not have time to go through user personas creation for every project, and it may not be necessary for every project, but if your software success is heavily dependent on your user’s experience, we highly recommend setting aside some time to get to know your users with user personas. We’ve created software for nearly 20 years, and we’ve seen how profitable software can be when it is tailor-made for a specific audience.