Persona? What is it? Well, persona more often than not is recognized as a video game that is made by Atlus, currently, consists of 5 series with RPG as its genre. Although you may have a different understanding of what persona is, our beloved search engine (google) shows us what people thought of first about persona, a video game.
Jokes aside, we will not discussed about video game with the titled persona in this article, at least I am not that evil to create a video game article’s clickbait with this kind of title :D. The persona that we are going to discuss is a tool that is commonly used in software development, especially in requirement and design phases. We will discuss about it in this article.
So.. What is persona?
Personas are fictional characters that you create, based on research or experience (that need to be solidify with researches). They represent type of users that you want to focus on in your application. Why do we need to bother ourselves and create persona of our users? Our application is created for all types of people, so we can just disregard personas completely, aren’t we? Well, hold on folks, I don’t know about an application that can be used just like Doraemon’s magic pouch, however, usually an application is designed for certain purposes and target certain peoples. We create our personas based on those purposes, creating a user mock that align with our app purposes. You may argue that search based app like Google is created for all types of people in mind. You’re not fully wrong, but actually google was first made with one purpose in mind, create a search app that can give you result from internet based on your inputted keyword. It just that, accidentally, all people have that purpose in mind when they need something from internet and in response, use google as their search app. Yeah.. I have been going around for some time giving an argument about persona. In conclusion, persona is a very important tool for you to categorize and mimic your user target by creating a fictional characters.
Why we need a persona?
As I mentioned above, persona is very important in designing our product, however, I did not tried to breakdown its reason one by one. So, in common, persona is designed for these purposes:
- Create a common understanding of who your users are. By creating persona, all of teams participate in our development, including non tech one, will have common conception of our app’s target. Unlike code, persona is still readable for non tech people, thus making it easier for them to understand. This will eliminate potential miscoordination due to different understanding of what our app is.
- Deep understanding of customer behavior and needs. Creating a personas force you to create a deep analysis, based on research (best practice), of what your users are. These include your user’s motivation, frustration, potential common profile (age, work), and their characteristics.
- Stop everyone in your company from talking about themselves, their friends and family as the users. With persona, you can say good bye to endless debate about user behavior based on someone else’s behavior. Persona wants us to create a characteristics based on certain research and logical explanation for each of them. You can just kick out those baseless assumptions now!
- Greater empathy with the customer. By building persona, you will have user in mind when designing or creating new features in your application. An example of this is when you create a website for children, you want to make the website as interactive and as colorful as possible, to catch children’s attention.
How to create a persona?
To create a personas, we need to determine what will appear in our persona. As a starting point, we would like to answer these following questions in our persona:
- Who are you? — Your user type
- What’s your main goal? — Their Motivation
- What’s your main barrier to achieving this goal? — Their frustation
After that, you can expand our questions further to include much more needed information about our user. An example of what type of information needed in persona is:
- User Type
- Fictional name
- Job titles and major responsibilities
- Their physical, social, and technological environment (Their characteristics)
- Images of a person that represent your user type
Now, that we have understand what we should include in our persona, let’s create our own persona! To achieve this, there are several steps that you need to take:
- Conduct user research: Your research have to answer the following questions: Who are your users and why are they using the system? What behaviors, assumptions, and expectations color their view of the system?
- Condense the research: After you collected data from your user research, filtered it into characteristics/informations that are useful and relevant to your app.
- Brainstorm: Classify your target users based on their needs and characteristics into several user types.
- Make them realistic: Develop the appropriate descriptions of each personas background, motivations, and expectations. Do not include a lot of personal information. Be relevant and serious.
So, how do we implement persona? For an example, I will take an example from my project’s persona in PPL (Proyek Perangkat Lunak) Fasilkom UI class. My group’s project is a website that is used as a source of information and control of general lecture, one of the required terms for graduation, by academic staffs and students. Upon hearing the detailed requirements of our project, our product manager and us reach an agreement to create four personas that we should consider. Those personas were created based on their role, which in this case, have a different goal amongst them.
Our first persona is Kristin that occupied role as a regular scholar. She is a scholar in Economy and Business faculty in Universitas Indonesia. Upon reading her persona, we can conclude there is a need for scholars in Economy and Business faculty for a centralized web that acts as an information system of general lecture’s information and attendance.
Next, we introduce Michael as our next persona. He has same role with Kristin, albeit having different purpose in mind. Upon reading his persona, we can conclude that he is an active student in his faculty that want to contribute further by proposing seminar that he organized as an interesting one for general lecture.
Now, we will introduce our academic staff persona, named Putra. He is an academic staff in Economy and Business Faculty in University of Indonesia. He wants to manage information about general lecture, proposed general lecture, and each students general lecture’s status easily. In his early 30s, he is quite flexible adapting to new tech available.
Last but not least, we create a persona that represent as a faculty manager named Anisa. She want to add staff as someone that is authorized to manage all general lecture’s information. With this, she can be convinced that every data about general lecture are credible.
And, we’re done! We have created personas that match with our current needs. With these personas, we can now verify and certain that our app will reach its targeted user. We can make this personas as a base point in determining whether we needed this feature or designed our app to suit its targeted user. Cheers!
Persona is a way for us to mimic our user’s personality and have them as our focus point in developing our app. It can be used as a tool to communicate with every team that are participating this project through understandable illustrations, such as the one that I have shown above. A good persona must gone through user researches and well implemented brainstorming with another teams. It also have to answer three important questions that we want from persona, such as their role, motivations, and frustrations. Well developed persona surely will help us in product design and development. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s create a persona!