Different people, be it a User Experience Designer or someone in the Marketing department of your company may have a persona. So what does a “persona” mean in the UX world? Wikipedia defines a person as: a fictional character created to represent the different user types that might use a site, brand, or product in a similar way. In other words, a user persona is a representation of the goals and behavior of a hypothesized group of users. In most cases, personas are synthesized from data collected from interviews with users.
How do you make a persona?
No you don’t just make it up. Pick a fictitious name, throw some random facts on a page and say “This is our personal Sally Student.” No, no, no. You use actual user research to develop a persona. As mentioned before, a person is created from combined data based on interviews and other research methods. The most important factors in a persona are generally not demographic information like age, political interests, or what type of car a person drives. Though some of these types of factors can be used to give the persona some human characteristics and personality. They key is to use information that is important to portraying the persona. They type of driving habits a person has, would not be important for a persona representing a user of medical software. But that information would be important for an app that tracks a person’s mileage and gas consumption when they drive.
Generally personas consist of:
The user’s name
Age or level of expertise
Title or some occupational reference
And perhaps a quote that summarizes the user’s goal, feeling or general outlook about the product or process
There are many advantages of using personas. Some of these include:
They simply provide a “face” for the user story.
Provide an emotional link to the person so you can build empathy with that user.
Promotes surfacing a real goal, pain points and motivations rather than just making them up as the discussion evolves.
When you need to play out a use case, the persona is a true character to use as reference, along with all of her data and behaviors.
Keeps the “facts” of the user more concrete. If it’s recorded on paper, traits of the user are less likely to morph and change.
Gives the team a focal point of on person to discuss rather than a theory about a group of users. You can specifically reference how “Sally the Student” would use the product so you make sure you are meeting her goals.
To focus the design on a “real” user rather than what we “think” is the best solution.
Now that you have a better understanding of personas, I hope that you will use them on your next project. If you are using personas now, please share your process of how you develop them and how you use them with the team.
One of the first steps I take in the discovery process of a new project is to get a better feel for what the competition is doing. Why would we care what the compassion is already doing for the same feature or app? Oh there are so many good reasons.
Why do a competitive analysis?
So you know how the major competition in your software, product or digital space is handling a similar feature
Understand where your product stands in reference to its competition
Idea generation on how to solve various usability issues
Get an idea of what you can do to gain a competitive edge or make your product better
No need to reinvent the wheel. Understand what already exists you you don’t have to start anew.
To know what the trends are in your industry and on the web
Identify best practices or patterns. Then you can make improvements on what exists.
Seeing what already exists can spark new, and even better ideas.
They key benefit of performing a competitve analysis is to identify strengths and areas for improvement. You have to see what already exists out there before you can do this for your own product.
This was an old project that I have put on a virtual shelf for a few months. I think It’s time to revisit it and think about doing some user research to assess if there is a need for an app of this nature.
The Temecula Winery App came to me one time when I was wine tasting in the region. I wanted to know which wineries in the area had some of my favorite wines: merlot, viognier, maybe some zinfandel. Now, as a dog owner, I am interested in what wineries are pet friendly. Specifically, I would like to know which wineries allow dogs inside the tasting room, vs. which ones prefer that they stay outside.
When you are cruising through wine country, is not the time when you want to try to search several (often not updated) winery websites, looking for what wines they have for sale. And most of them (if any do) do not mention if they allow dogs.
So I thought this app might be helpful to people visiting the area. But even if I think it would be a good idea, I need to validate my idea with others. I need to do some user research and to see if others think their is a need for the winery app. This is an important step that too many startups, and founders to not take the time to do. They think their idea is in high demand because it’s their idea. Or they ask their friends and family, who ever so politely indulge them and say, “Yes that is a great idea.”
My goal is the next time I go to Temecula, I am going to talk to some other wine tasters and assess if there is even a need for an app like mine. I am sure after visiting a winery or two, approaching strangers and asking questions about this topic will only become easier. ha!