Our Interactive User Persona
If you have conducted any user research yourself, I am sure you are very familiar with the persona. For those of you who are unfamiliar with personas, they can be a very useful tool to create a realistic representation of your target user or audience segment.
Personas are an inexpensive way to help focus decisions and prioritise features during product development. Typically personas are based on qualitative and quantitative research into your target user to highlight their main characteristics, needs and desires, and represent a real user based on data. However, it is important to note that this data represents a snapshot of your users at that time, and many personas lack the adjustability and interactivity to account for this limitation.
Personas can be very useful when implemented well, but to implement them well you need to be clear on who is going to use them. In your search for exemplar personas you will see many polished stock photos and stylish quotes. This is great if they are designed to capture the attention and educate people across all areas of your business, however for a team who are all involved in the product development process this emphasis on a perfect deliverable may limit the usefulness of this tool and minimise it’s shelf life.
A good example we found is the MailChimp personas. Whilst these may work for MailChimp, for us a stylised persona like this does not allow for the degree of ambiguity that is likely in our target user, and this inflexibility may place too great an emphasis on certain attributes and distract from the variability and potential uncertainties within the target user group.
Source: MailChimp. https://blog.mailchimp.com/new-mailchimp-user-persona-research/
Your persona should capture information important for design and user experience (eg. user needs, behaviours, desires, concerns, expectations, attitudes, tech savviness). Rather than solely containing a description of your target user, it should encourage understanding of the good, the bad and the ugly.
If your persona could be used to market your product, chances are it’s not capturing the true value of a persona.
Here at Tictrac, we believe in continuously learning about our target user - in this case people with type 2 diabetes. We wanted to create a persona that encapsulates our target user as best as possible without being too definitive, to ensure we acknowledge the undoubtedly high complexity and ambiguity in the needs of people with type 2 diabetes. In addition, with researchers working across agile teams, we wanted to find a way to involve everyone in the creation and maintenance of the persona and encourage interactivity across all teams.
We conducted detailed qualitative interviews and surveyed people in the UK, US and Singapore (the locations of our target users), and worked with our own dietician and fitness experts to create what we call an ‘Interactive Persona’.
Using post-it notes, we added the key characteristics, behaviours, goals and concerns around a picture of a target user. We presented this to the entire team encouraging any additional insights to be added to keep the persona up-to-date with our current understanding and ensure that designs are appropriately focused.
This Interactive Persona may look less ‘designed’ than a lot of the personas you might have seen, however it is actually designed better for our team and how we use it. It allows for collaboration and encourages shared interpretation of data, adding greater value to the more polished persona.
As we conduct more research with our target users, we look forward to adding insights to this interactive persona. This way the whole team are kept informed to ensure our designs are guided by an up-to-date representation of our target user, helping us achieve a positive user experience for our target user group.