Ah yes, persona, the term that most people have heard of. However, each of us may have different interpretations of what the term actually means. That’s not surprising, since the terminology itself has many different meanings. In this article, I will discuss the term persona used in User Experience (UX) design process.
When developing a product, it is important to understand the user first. Understanding the user from the beginning helps us determine the goals and objectives that our product should achieve. One such method to do that is by creating personas.
According to Interaction Design Foundation,
Personas are fictional characters, which you create based upon your research in order to represent the different user types that might use your service, product, site, or brand in a similar way.
Persona help UX designers to determine who will be using your product. It eases UX designers by helping them to identify with users during the ideation process. It allows UX designers to empathize with users, by understanding what they need. This is a key factor for developing a high-quality application with a good user experience.
Contents of a Persona
There are various ways to design a persona, with each of them having different content. There are no strict set of rules on what to put in a persona. Therefore, we can choose what to put in a persona based on what we require in our designing process. There are, however, some common contents that are often considered necessary for a persona. The most common contents of a persona are as follows.
- Photo. An image that represents how our persona will look like. Be careful while choosing a photo, since some people may have an issue with their photo being used without permission.
- Name. The persona’s fictitious name.
- Demographics. Details basic biodata such as age, profession, sex, education level, etc.
- Description. Details who the persona is, what they do, and their main focus.
- Goals. Things that the persona wants to achieve by using the product.
- Motivations. Things that drive the persona’s action and choices.
- Frustration. Things that the persona feels worried about or wishes to avoid.
My Project’s Persona
In this project, my team and I are developing SIMPK (Sistem Informasi Manajemen Program Kemaslahatan) for BPKH RI. The product will be in a form of a mobile application that allows staff to monitor and evaluate ongoing Kemaslahatan projects in remote areas around Indonesia. There will be 3 kinds of users for this application.
- BPKH staff. This user is an internal staff from BPKH who wishes to monitor all projects for all Kemaslahatan partners. They can create and view monitoring reports and book on-site visitations for all projects.
- Kemaslahatan partner. This user is a non-governmental institution or organization that provides social services and collaborates with BPKH to realize Kemaslahatan projects for those who are in need. They can create and view monitoring reports and book on-site visitations for projects that are assigned to them.
- Professional. An external service provider who collaborates with BPKH to ensure that the realization of Kemaslahatan projects is in accordance with what is planned. They can only view monitoring reports and book on-site visitations for all projects.
In order to help my team and I design our product, we developed 3 personas based on the requirements from our client as mentioned earlier. We divide the persona according to their goal of accessing the application that we are about to develop. Below are the personas.
Based on the persona we developed, we acquire the following insights. These insights will be useful for my team and I when designing the user experience.
- BPKH staff wish to access all projects as efficiently as possible. They may want to access projects directly or access projects based on the Kemaslahatan partner it is assigned.
- All users wish to be able to access and operates the application at any given time and place. Therefore, it is important that they could still use the application as it should be, despite being in a remote no signal area.
- A Kemaslahatan partner has nothing to do with other Kemaslahatan partner’s projects. So there is no need for them to see projects that are not assigned to them.
How Persona Affect My Product’s Design
Help defines the problems that our application should tackle.
Defining the problems at the very beginning is important for user experience design. It helps us define objectives that our application should achieve. We shall focus on those objectives in order to ensure that our application provides the solution that our user needs. Only after it is accomplished that we may add extra functionality to improve the quality of user experience.
Provide a comfortable experience for users while using the application.
Determining the goals, motivations, and frustrations of each persona helps us to design an application that the user would enjoy. The user experience design shall avoid the frustrations or pain points and instead focus on the persona’s motivations. Because, motivations are what drives the persona’s actions and choices, so we want our application to comply with it.
Ensure that our application is what the user really needs.
Often we may be too ambitious to deliver the best product possible, that we forget what the user wanted in the first place. As a result, our products are piling with features or services that the user never uses. This is obviously a waste of time, effort, and resources. In order to avoid that situation, the persona is needed to ensure that the application developed is what the user really needs. Therefore, we can shift the focus on what is important from things that are useless for the user, thus making our work faster and more efficient.