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When we talk about users, we are, of course, talking about customers, consumers, and humans, and it is unlikely that there will be a single type of customer or user for your project. We are likely to be dealing with a range of different audiences, each representing a different set of needs, goals, and motivations.
You may have encountered the idea of personas before in a marketing context. When we talk about personas in a UX context, we are more interested in behaviors rather than the demographics and segmentation that marketing specializes in. Once our research uncovers what these needs, goals, motivations, and user behaviors are, we can group them by common elements and translate them into user personas.
When authored effectively, personas can become an essential design tool. Knowing the characteristics of a persona in terms of the key criteria of needs, goals, motivations, and behaviors, design decision-making can be informed and given low-level validation from the persona.
At their worst, personas can be sketchy stereotypes which simply reflect the received wisdom throughout the organization. Personas can and should reflect research with real customers. They shouldn’t reflect the assumptions and skewed internal perspectives of the business.
Effective personas will have a number of key criteria:
Personas put together for a project should be capable of answering the questions that will be asked of them. There is no point in containing extraneous detail that has no bearing on the project.
When putting together a suite or set or personas for a project, the number of personas should be kept to a minimum. This is likely to be somewhere between three and six personas depending on the nature of the project. The persona set selected should represent the majority of users of the website.
It will be impossible to represent all users. The reason for this is that there will always be age cases, even secondary or tertiary level personas, that will not bring value to the business. Remember that the goal is not to reflect all users and personas, but most users.Back to Top
Rick Monro is UX Director at Fathom. He has extensive experience in user research, interaction design, user-centered design, and design strategy with private and public sector organisations throughout the UK and Ireland.
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If you are interested in learning about the principles of UX and the tools or techniques that you can use to develop and refine your user's experience, DMI has produced a short course on the subject for all of our students. You can access this content here:
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ABOUT THIS DIGITAL MARKETING MODULE
The UX Research module module will enable you to develop the knowledge and skills to build highly effective user experiences. You will learn how to think like a user in order to understand their priorities and needs, and you will recognize the role of various research and analytics techniques such as tree-testing, card-sorting, user-testing, user-surveys, Google Analytics and specialized tools such as Click-tale.
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