There are countless product design experts out there, but many of them incorrectly operate on the idea that they know best. They don’t take a minute to step back and ask how their users would utilize and work with their product. It’s true that it’s impossible to design a product that will make everyone happy, but you can get close, and personas are the key to getting there.
Using a Persona to Craft a Used-Centered Design
Experience has shown that having empathy for your users is one of the best ways to ensure that you have a user-centered design (UCD). User-centered design is usually made up of four phases which include:
- Understanding the context of use
- Identifying and specifying user requirements for that context
- Designing a solution
- Evaluating that design against the requirements
Empathy is the key to developing an accurate user persona which in turn directs the first two phases of UCD. Having a robust user persona allows you to better understand the context of the users and identify requirements for them.
Read more: Learn About the Swish Journey
How a Persona Should Direct Decision Making
The other key benefit of developing and using a persona is that it can help a designer or a product manager make decisions, especially when the answer isn’t clear. As humans, it is very easy for us to resort to the path of least resistance and in the design world that can manifest by projecting our own opinion about a situation with the comment of “I think …” rather than looking at our objective and how our user might look at the situation.
That isn’t to say that there isn’t overlap between ourselves and our users, but sometimes the difference can be vast and we want to stay centered on creating the best product and experience for our users, not necessarily for us. Having a user persona and using it to help guide the decision-making process is extremely valuable and can help cut through the clutter to arrive at the right decision.
Personas are Key to Consistency
The last key benefit to having and using a persona is that it can provide consistency across a product team or department. In a world of ever-evolving change, the user persona can help ensure that a team stays focused on the user.
There are countless designers and product managers working on and owning tools and products that they didn’t initially design or build. Now, while it is important to evolve with your users, it is too easy to insert personal bias when there is a change in ownership. The user persona can act as a lighthouse on the shifting seas of change and provide guidance and stability to everyone involved.
Investing in Personas Means Investing in Users
Take the time to learn about your users and create robust user personas. Don’t confuse users as simply being different roles within your product, it is much more than that. Investing in this process can be exhausting but in the end, you will develop empathy for your users, make better decisions, and have more consistency in your product.