Before getting into product management, I spent the first five years of my career as a consultant and worked directly with the end-users of our product. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was becoming familiar with and starting to form user personas. I didn’t know the proper term for it -, but day by day, I quickly came to understand that a sales rep using the product looked different than a sales manager and a sales manager looked different than an executive.
Your Customers Will Inform Your Personas
At the end of those five years, I knew each of these users’ needs very well. I had interacted with thousands of users and most times I could anticipate the needs of the users and had a deep understanding of what was important to each of them.
This was especially true when I had the privilege of introducing a new user to the product. While I found satisfaction in helping individual users, I really came to appreciate the experience I had after being able to take that domain knowledge and transform it into user personas.
After my time as a consultant, I transitioned into a training role and that is where I had the opportunity to create these user personas and share them with brand new consultants. This helped them get down the learning curve and develop empathy for our users and customers.
In short, not everyone will be able to create personas. The person who does should know your customers or know people that are similar to the customers you want to attract.
Where to Begin When Making a Persona
When creating a persona, it’s okay to be specific, and it’s okay to craft that persona around an actual person. This is often the best starting option for getting to know who your users are at large and who your product should be designed for.
An Example of a User Persona
An example of a user persona that I used in my own life was a woman named Jill.
Who is Jill: Jill is between 18-40 years old, is very proficient with technology, and is an early adopter of social media.
What is Jill’s background: She is from Michigan and has worked mostly in administrative or clerical roles throughout her career. She has finished high school or has an associate’s degree. She has very little experience with traditional sales but has found success working as a business development representative and has enjoyed the increased income that comes from the commissions she earns by working as part of a team.
What’s Important to Jill: Speed and ease of use are critically important to her because she relies on the law of averages working in her favor and knows that her success is just a matter of her making enough calls and sending enough emails and being persistent.
If Jill sounds like a typical client of yours, then make sure you don’t forget about Jill while you are building and designing your product.