To build a persona can be tricky; you can just look how actors need months to put in the shoes of a their new characters. In UI design, personas’ creation is part of the analysis stage: they will be used to define requirements, to prepare user tests, to support decisions and to establish a meeting points between designers, developers, and stakeholders.
What is a persona?
Personas are fictitious users you create based on your user research. Personas summarize your user research findings and provide a practical approach to understanding the requirements of your target audience and keeping user perspectives in mind when designing products and creating documentation for them.
By Niranjan Jahagirdar and Arun Joseph Martin for UX Matters.
I wanted to include this definition just as an introduction, because what matters to me now is how to perform personas’ research when you cannot access to any focus group, you cannot do direct interviews or observe users.
Beyond the discussion about whether this artifact is useful or not, I think that even for large organizations is a wothwhile investigation which will help to the team to be closer to the real and target user. So, this is basically my suggestions whenever you need to face a persona’s modeling:
- Identify primary and secondary individuals to give importance to product requirements
- Identify behavioural variables and patterns by reading blogs, analysing the professional/gender/demographics statistics associated, and understanding the complexity of their tasks beyond the technology
- Undestand how business rules, and work environment can affect to the performance and frequency of their tasks
- Learn how subjects like politics can affect to the user daily work (tasks, goals, attitudes and motivations)
Tips from above are not new, you can find more precise ones in the Chapter 5: Modeling Users: Personas and Goals, of the book About Face 3.
Creating persona’s is not an obscure or expensive procedure but a powerful tool wich will help designers to make decisions confidientially.