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User Persona’s – Some Hints and Tips

User personas are there to help us design products for groups of people. They represent the users or customers of your product. This helps you think about how they would relate to what you’re building. How often have you seen personas created, stuck on a wall and then ignored?

Here are some tips to help make them successful:

– Use a real picture that sums up how they feel, ideally relating to your product. For example, find a picture of a mum who’s struggling with too much to do. This could be very helpful if we were targeting a diary product at this group of people. Don’t use a known actor as we’re trying not to introduce preconceived ideas of who they are.

– They need to be descriptive enough to believe that person is real without so much detail they get confusing. Think of each person as an actor in a film. If you have enough detail you’ll be able to imagine them in a scene. For example, “Hey Carol, take a look at this new cup holder for your car, it’s carbon fibre and super light”. “Looks good but I rarely drink anything in the car as I only drive to work which takes 10 minutes, and why would I need it in lightweight carbon fibre?!”.

– Create enough personas to capture your main users, look at around 6 as a guideline. You usually don’t design a product for everyone so think carefully about who you’re targeting.

– Get the Scrum team involved in their creation, help them to buy in to the idea. Avoid them becoming silly caricatures.

– As a BA / Agile Coach you should be talking about them regularly until they become part of the team dynamic. Asking how would Carol use this feature, will help assess it’s suitability. You can add them into stories like this:

As Carol a customer I want to store my contact information so that I can quickly retrieve peoples details when they contact me.

– Find the real users. Personas are great as a starting point but you need to review and improve them. If you assume every student is poor because they drink too much you may design the wrong product. Validate your assumptions with research. The whole point of the persona is to make the right product, if you have the wrong customer profile you probably won’t.

– Chose a primary persona (or stakeholder if you can identify a single person) to build for. Who is the person you’re most concerned about? Your product will be very different if your primary stakeholder is a client who wants a really cheap supportable solution, compared to a customer who wants all the bells and whistles. That doesn’t mean you take things to extremes but it will help guide your solution.

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