• Pallavi Goodman

Why You Need Personas for Your Products or Services


1. What is a Persona and what is its purpose?

A persona is a representative of a group of users who display similar characteristics, preferences, motivations and behaviors in their purchasing decisions, attitude towards technology and “lifestyle choices”. The purpose of a persona is to identify a set of customers that have very similar needs, pain points and desires. Personas enable you to gain an understanding of users and build products and services that cater to the needs of specific types of users.


2. What are the benefits of creating a Persona?

In today’s digital-first world, customers expect products and services to be personalized, customized and highly relevant to their needs. As such, creating a Persona helps companies tailor their products and services to meet and even exceed the customer’s expectations. Traditionally, companies have segmented customers based on just demographics and assumed everyone in that demographic would have similar needs in terms of product functionality and features. It was a “one size fits all” approach that did not really delve into customer pain points and motivations; creating a Persona helps companies overcome that problem by identifying gaps in needs and preferences and helping to create solutions that directly address those needs.


3. How do you build a persona?

Begin by first identifying your target audience. Conduct ethnographic research techniques such as one-on-one interviews in the user’s natural environment. This kind of research technique typically yields the most information relevant to the purpose of the research, such as the user’s motivations, pain points, behaviors and needs. Patterns will emerge from these interviews that will allow you to group together users with similar responses. One-on-one interviews are a much more effective tool than focus groups or surveys that may not yield enough relevant and useful insights because of “group think” tendencies. You’ll ideally need to do another round of research and interviews to validate the data and fill any gaps from the first round of interviews.


4. How many personas do we need for a product or service?

A product or service can have more than one persona. In fact, having 4-5 personas could be a good rule of thumb depending on the product or service but anything more than that might complicate matters, not to mention over-segmentation. The number of ideal personas can also depend on your product or service and timeline. Spend at least 20-30 minutes with each person to draw out useful insights. It’s not how many personas you have but how well they represent your user’s needs and motivations.


5. When does persona development and process begin?

Personas inform strategy. They identify gaps in the product or user experience and form the basis of product or service improvement and innovation. They provide product or design teams with a common understanding of user pain points, goals and motivations. Therefore, ideally, the process of developing and creating personas should begin before and major project or innovation effort launches.


6. Are buyer and user personas different?

Very much so. Buyers are your customers who buy the product or service but don’t necessarily use it. Users are people who use your product but are not necessarily involved in the purchasing process. Put another way, all buyers are customers but not all buyers are users. Buyers could be people in your company that make the decision to buy a product or a service while a user is someone who actually uses a product such as an app or a smartphone, for example. So, you would have different personas for buyers and users.


For additional reading, I recommend the following articles:

https://uxmag.com/articles/personas-the-foundation-of-a-great-user-experience

https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2014/08/a-closer-look-at-personas-part-1/

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