Adam Tedeschi Team : User Experience Tags : Web Design User Experience

The reason I like personas

Adam Tedeschi Team : User Experience Tags : Web Design User Experience

In the world of lean UX, Personas are no longer the 6 month research project conducted by marketing teams creating “Ambitious Adam” and “Nervous Nancy” (although sometimes they are). Personas have become proto-personas, quick and easy design exercises to get everyone thinking about their customer and creating healthy debate about who they are. This is already a great reason – it aligns the project team around a core target audience and allows intelligent decision making to dominate subjective opinion. 

But, they do one other very important thing. They transfer knowledge. 

When our clients come to us they usually have very complex problems, products or ideas. We build websites across virtually every industry and across many different and unique customer types and interests. Segmenting customer types and understanding how to satisfy all the possible user journeys is not an easy task, especially when you know little about the actual industry domain or the customer’s ultimate motivations. After all, we are expert in web design, not experts in forex trading, transport logistics or natural gas exploration. 

So how do we quickly get up to speed so we can start designing, building and getting to market? We ask our clients to get out the pens and start drawing, describing and discussing who they think their customers are, how they live, what they like and don’t like and how they behave. It’s a fun and frantic three hour workshop that produces great conversation and brings together people from parts of our clients business that may have never sat down together to discuss their customers. Knowledge flows both ways, between us and our clients and between people within the organisation. 

After going through these personas everyone has a much clearer picture of who we are building for and what the product or service actually means to them. As designers this can completely change our perspective. Without this we can easily spend time going down a pathway based on our own biased assumptions of an industry and that is how bad user experience is created. In user testing we can compare actual customers with the personas and adjust as necessary, again creating a knowledge transfer as we educate our clients about their perception versus reality. It’s a great thing. 

The personas Wiliam create are not intended to be laminated and stuck around the marketing floor of the corporate HQ. They are intended as working documents, tools for the designers and developers to help them understand the ‘why’ rather than simply the ‘what’. It is a three hour investment that can save time, money and almost completely mitigate the risk of getting it wrong. 

Even if you think you know your customer, running these workshops before a project kick-off sets up a great foundation for the rest of UX discovery and design. Running them a few months after launch and comparing the personas with actual site data can also provide the nuggets of insight that incrementally improve your customer knowledge and your site's performance. 



Personas. Fun, informative and so easy to do.