Persona — building for whom?
What is Persona in User-Centered Design?
Persona is a fictional character representing the group of people that we build our product for. As the usual character, we give them names, assign them jobs, determine their age. The relation between this character and our product is, this character has certain goals and frustrations which our product hopes to solve.
Why do we need Personas?
— once I wondered. Can’t we just build the best product without thinking about this fictional character? The reasonable reason why we need personas, I learned, is similar to the fact that we treat different people differently. There are situations where there is no one size fits all solution. This results in a necessity to establish the main point of focus. For my earlier question, what does the best product even mean? (In this world where some people like blue and others like red?) You got the idea. We absolutely need personas — who we’re building for.
Persona to avoid unnecessary hassles
Apart from the name, job, and age earlier, something of the Persona that relates closely with the product is their goals and frustrations. Hence, throughout the whole design process, we have to keep our personas with their goals and frustrations in mind. It will help us overcome these issues:
- Elastic user
Unspecific knowledge about the user expectation leads to an imprecise expected behavior of the product. Moreover, a small change in the requirement might actually result in a huge change in the implementation. If we don’t even have a solid source of truth, it would definitely be hard to prioritize features. It’s easy to imagine all this to be a very painful project.
- Self-referential design
When we build a product to be used by other people, we have to make it suitable for others and not just suitable for the developer team. If we don’t have a persona, chances are as developers we might think more about the efficient data structure and other implementation details and not considering the humanist side enough. Inadequate consideration of the point of views might cause the product to be great according to ourselves but poor according to other peoples’ taste. Making a persona would avoid us from this pitfall.
- Edge case
There is this edge case where we develop a feature that turns out to be very rarely used. It means all of our efforts are becoming a waste. We can mitigate this by using persona as a reality check to ask ourselves whether a certain feature will be frequently used by the users. This allows us to be more mindful of what we’re developing.
What’s in a Persona?
Persona consists of the fictional character’s identifying data such as their age, gender, and occupation. This is to make it easier for us to imagine the character, and also to emphasize the market segmentation (e.g. our target users are college students and young professionals).
Goals and Frustrations
The next crucial part of a persona is the Goals and Frustrations. Goals and frustrations are really important because they define what product we should create and how it can solve the users’ problems. For example, if the persona has the goal to plan a trip optimally, share the trip plan, and browse for new travel destinations, then we would create those features to create an itinerary and share it, and a travel destination catalog to browse the places. Coming from the frustrations, if the persona feels that it’s difficult to create minimum budget itineraries and finding destinations, we would strive to create an application that has these features and is easy to use. Another thing is, the travel destinations data including ticket price is actually available on internet, but it’s hard to find the best price. Then, we would create an application that allows filtering by price so they can browse places according to their budget.
This is a persona for a meditation application similar to Headspace. Rossa is a 25 years old female software engineer. Her frustration is, she finds it very hard to focus during her work time. She really wants to practice meditation but she can’t even find enough commitment to do it routinely. Hence, her goal would be to practice meditation in order to gain all of the positive benefits for her life such as the ability to focus, decrease her anxiety, and feeling more refreshed. She wants to do it routinely even though she has a busy schedule.
To solve the problem of people like Rossa Rossiana, we would create a meditation application with an online meditation instructor via video, an online group for meditating together, and calming music for meditation. These are the features that a meditation application should have to remove the pain points of people like Rossa who want to commit to meditation.
This article is written for Individual Review PPL CS University of Indonesia ‘21
Persona on PPL (Software Project) course
My PPL group is working on the Liwat Project and the persona is already provided by the client and product owner, thank you! Above is a concrete example of the given persona. Basically, the personas’ goals are to plan their travels with their friends conveniently and optimally and so we’re building a travel planner. As both of the personas are young people and the one above is even a female Computer Science student (just like my whole PPL group!), I find it not hard to put myself in their shoes. We use orange-ish yellow as the color palette as it promotes youth, happiness, and enthusiasm.
We have now finalized the design and made it to be as intuitive and as pleasant as possible to match with the goals and frustrations of the Persona (which are coincidentally quite similar to us). We hope to implement it well.
- Human-Computer Interaction class, Faculty of Computer Science Universitas Indonesia 2020