It’s alive! – and so are user personas
Are you familiar with the story of “Frankenstein”? The original book by Mary Shelley, written in 1818, describes the life of Victor Frankenstein, a scientist-philosopher obsessed with solving the mystery of death. Victor creates a monster being out of scraps of different human bodies and brings it to life with electricity. This book is considered the first sci-fi novel and the first sign of the upcoming genre which blows the mind of every geek. Among all the movie adaptations there have been, not one can hold a candle to the original story which inquires timeless questions about humanity playing god, and showing the tragedy of a man-beast who met his creator. This article is about creating user personas. It hasn’t got anything to do with sewing human limbs, but every time you make a buyer persona you should consider yourself as a mad scientist from Mary Shelley’s novel. Maybe it’s because I love this story and giving my work such a mysterious aura just makes it more fun, or maybe it’s because I feel I really am creating a creature. True, it’s never going to walk, it’s not eight feet tall and scary, but it sure can talk. And it talks about itself mostly.
Make data become informationThe creation starts with research which provides us with valuable data about our users and/or customers. Knowing them, their goals, desires and limitations enables us to build a personalized business approach which may and should manifest itself on every level of product or service development. But first we have to turn data into information. This is the part where we create user personas. It’s all about analyzing the data from our research and showing the dominant figures and clues in a common language. It doesn’t matter if you’re a designer, marketer or a programmer; if you belong to one team serving the needs of the same final customer or user, the whole team should know who the final user persona is and they should validate their personal bias and opinions from a user-centered perspective.
Easy is hard
Creating personas can be hardUnderstanding user personas doesn’t require any special skills. It’s very easy to read them but it’s often hard to make the reading easy. You can make user personas using MS PowerPoint, but is this really the tool which will make your workflow as smooth as possible? Most often, whether I have already compiled research or I’m just relying on my imagination, I start making user personas by figuring out what is the most useful thing I want to know about my users. I already know why I’m making user personas. Having in mind the later design process, I have to ask myself what type of information they should contain in order to be useful.