A Guide for Creating Personas for Lean UX

By: it-developer
6 December 2017
8 min read

Traditionally, companies created products based on the demographics and market segmentation with features and functionality catering to a larger group. But customers these days are demanding that the products and services are catered to their desires. Customers also don’t have loyalty to a specific company. To keep customer retention, today’s business owners personalize their customer’s needs. To do this they have to identify their needs and solution to their pain points. For this, they need to create personas through market research rather than just using the demographic data.

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What is a Persona?

The word persona comes from the Latin word for mask. A persona, in the word’s everyday usage, is a social role or a character played by an actor. Alan Cooper developed the concept of a persona in his book The Inmates Are Running the Asylum. In this book, Cooper outlines the general characteristics, uses and best practices for creating personas, recommending that software is designed for single archetypal users. 

Now, what is a persona for lean UX?

When personas were first introduced, they were heavily researched so that it could be sent to company’s leadership as a report for better understanding. They are time-consuming and expensive. Especially for those companies who have a small budget or who don’t believe much in UX research (believe me there are a lot of companies like that!). For companies like these proto-personas are the best way to go ahead.

Persona for lean UX (also called proto-persona) is a concise version of the persona report. They are created during the brainstorming session when deciding who will be using the product or service.  These are basically the starter version to actual personas. They aren’t based on real data, but they are a good way to start thinking about the end user on every project. They help in the strategic planning of the product or service. This concept is best used when Lean UX methodology is used.

How to create personas?

All you need are:

  1. This Persona Template printed out
  2. Couple Sharpies, pens or pencils
  3. Stakeholders and team members
  4. Couple of hours
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[clickToTweet tweet=”While doing the persona brainstorming session, it should be a no judgement and no ego zone.” quote=”While doing the persona brainstorming session, it should be a no judgement and no ego zone.” theme=”style5″]

Lean UX persona is divided into 4 segments:

  1. Sketch of the Persona: A rough sketch of the persona.
  2. Behavior & Demographic: A little background about the persona. For example, what he likes/dislikes, where he is from and where he lives etc..
  3. Pain Points & Needs: What the persona would like to have in the product or service. Does he really need that feature?
  4. Potential Solutions: What solution the companies can provide to their customers.

Validation of the persona created

Validate the pain points and potential solutions of the customers collected through different UX research methods.  Keep updating the personas as user research will definitely uncover characteristics of a real customer.

How personas help us make better decisions?

When personas are created, they help companies visualize the user experience from the customer’s point of view. Creating user stories humanise the purpose of product or service. Personas give companies an understanding and connect with their customer’s needs, which help in making an informed decision. Especially, if it is a startup and trying to figure the right target customers, they can understand their users and pivot based on the user persona created.

The following are the reasons why we need personas:

  1. So we don’t end up designing the product or service for ourselves
  2. So we don’t add features which the customers won’t use
  3. We design the product or service for the right customers. For example, if we design an app for Night Club, it should be interactive and young instead of showing pictures of wine and cheese.

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