User Personas: What are They and Why Do You Need Them?
To strategically develop an application tailored to users’ actual requirements, the application must boast a user-centric design. The most effective way of understanding end-user psyche is by generating user personas.
Well before the actual app development begins, the product team must have a crystal-clear understanding of the user personas that, in essence, represent the characteristics and needs of the application’s various user groups.
What are User Personas?
User personas are life-like, fictional characters that are created to reflect the goals, behaviors and pain points of the intended app users. They clarify what people do, why they do it and what they really need/want from a product. Basically, personas provide a guideline of what the final user experience delivered by the app should involve.
To make the most out of user personas, they must be realistic and concentrate on the present instead of the future. Personas can help you in understanding:
- The context(s) in which the product will be used
- The current behaviors of the end users
- The general attitudes of the users
- What users want/need from the product that you’re designing
- The difficulties that the users want to overcome through your application
How to create a User Persona?
User personas are usually created in the early phases of the design process but they may evolve throughout the design and development process.
To create your app’s personas, you will need to put aside your expectations of your customers in order to collect true data. After analyzing the collected data you can effectively determine what different user groups will be searching for in your application.
Let’s have a look at how to create a winning persona for your application.
1. Researching Personas
The first step in creating a persona is conducting either primary or secondary research or a combination of both. The end goal, however, is to find high-quality and accurate data for generating a complete user profile.
Primary Persona Research
Primary persona research focuses on collecting first-hand data from the target audience through focus group experiments or by surveying the market in-person. This kind of research will help you in getting to know your end-users, giving you an edge over your competitors.
Secondary Persona Research
Secondary persona research makes use of the already existing data. It requires less investment, but calls for more time to make an accurate analysis of the available data. This type of research requires looking for user data through social media platforms, existing case studies and other interactive forums. For gathering more targeted data, pre-existing online surveys can also be used.
2. Analyze Research Data
The next step is to identify user characteristics and behavioral patterns that emerge from user research. Analyze the data collected during the research and group the users according to their unique characteristics and behavior patterns.
There should be a persona for each user group that contributes to the business goals of the application.
3. Essential Creation Process
The final step is to create a complete profile of user personas; one representing each user group that formed during the analysis phase.
Begin with describing the basic characteristics of the personas like age, career, hobbies, their goals for using the app etc. Factor in their approach towards technology and explain what they may expect from your application.
You can also add a list of websites or apps they use regularly. Create a clear visual representation with all of these details listed for each persona so that the entire team understands who they’re building the application for.
Example of a User Persona
The Pre-App Launch User Personas
Before the launch of the app, the user personas can help you in creating a human vision of the theoretical users that do not exist in reality yet.
Carrying out research is not enough; the UX designers and developers must dedicate the necessary time to the persona creation process. This would save time during the later stages of the app development process.
Post-App Launch User Personas
One of the central tenets of user-centric design is that the more you learn about your users, the more successful your application becomes. However, once your app is launched, you will need to monitor user behavior continuously and see if the app fits the changing market needs.
Learning about the app users continuously and seeing how well your app resolves their problems in the real world is the key for long-term success. Session replays or heat maps are crucial for analyzing how users are interacting with the application.
These are powerful tools for any UX or UI designer to assess which parts of the app should be modified.
The Benefits of Creating User Personas
Using personas in mobile app development has many benefits:
Allows designers to empathize with the product’s target audience
The empathizing process for a UX designer means observing and engaging with people that will use the product. Personas help designers in understanding the end users at a deeper level.
The market is full of applications that are visually appealing but meaningless nonetheless to the end users.
Personas can help in determining the right balance between aesthetics and value, both of which are essential for attracting and retaining users.
Helps designers in avoiding the the false consensus effect and self-referential design
Sometimes designers may think that other people share their beliefs and that their response to a situation will be the same. These generalizations or stereotypes can lead to creating a design that is sub-optimal.
The user personas can help the product team in getting to know the actual needs and expectations of the app users and also in creating a product that can solve users’ real problems.
Helps designers in making decisions
Personas can also help designers in creating a product strategy. They can assess who will use their product and why.
Personas can present them with a user-centered point of view which can make it easier to prioritize feature requests based on how well they address the needs of a primary persona.
The product team can make decisions based on facts and needs instead of their own thoughts and whims.
User personas are powerful tools. If done correctly, they can make the design process less complex as they guide the ideation processes and help designers in creating a good UX for the target users.
However, they must be based on user-research conducted accurately to get a clear idea of the users’ requirements and the context of use.
Thanks to personas, designers can work in a more meaningful way by keeping the real users at the heart of the app design.