The Communication Studio

Personas

A persona is a user archetype you can use to help guide decisions about product features, navigation, interactions, and even visual design. By taking the archetype - whose goals and behavior patterns you understand very well - into account, you can satisfy the broader group of people represented by that archetype.

Identify the "WHO"

What's a Persona?

The Persona description includes behavior patterns, goals, skills, attitudes, and environment, with a few (very few!) fictional personal details to bring the persona to life.

Although tasks are also an important part of understanding users, a good persona description is not a list of tasks or duties; it's a narrative that describes the *flow* of someone's day, as well as their skills, attitudes, environment, and goals. A persona answers critical questions that a job description or task list doesn't, such as:

  • Which pieces of information are required at what points in the day?
  • Do you focus on one thing at a time, carrying it through to completion, or are there a lot of interruptions?
  • Why are you using this site in the first place?

 

Stories are an informal, accessible extension on personas and roles. More targeted than a "day in the life" (which tends to be a task-oriented scenario), the story captures the essence of the personal issue and highlights a frustration, a need or a solution.

The story is a memorable, repeatable takeaway.

Goals

Each persona should have three or four important goals that help focus the design. Keep in mind that goals and tasks are different:

Tasks are not ends in themselves, but are merely the things we do in order to accomplish goals. Not just any goals will do, though, so it's important to understand which types will help you make design decisions.

Most persona goals should be end goals that focus on what the persona could get out of using a well-designed product or service. End goals may involve the work product that results from using the tool.

A persona usually includes

    a name and picture

    demographics (age, education, ethnicity, family status)

    goals and tasks in relation to your site

    living & working environment (physical, social, technological)

    a personal statement that sums up what matters most to the persona with relevance for your site

Below is a template that was used to model personas for a Social Networking site. As you can see, the attributes focus on understanding Who I am, What I want and How I might use the service.

Who I Am

Name

 

Age

 

Marital Status

 

Children

Portrait of John

A Portrait is Nice...

Home location

Household ... role

Work, Daily Life

Job title

Personas can be really helpful. They're sort of a souped-up version of an Audience Role - an attempt to understand not just what you do, but really get a feeling for who you are - so that we can design appropriately.