Personas are a great place to start with user centred design, particularly if the whole practice is new to your organisation. This is because they can provide a quick and cheap way of ensuring your project puts the different types of user at the heart of your service design process.
Personas are fictional representations of the different types of potential users of your service. Well written ones can bring the important user types to life, which is why it helps to make them as realistic as possible. They also help to give the project team focus, by constantly reminding them of what really matters to their users. Finally, they are a great way of engaging stakeholders with your work, introducing personality and something relatable.
They can have their downsides though:
- often personas aren’t based on user research, but assumptions
- they can sometimes focus on what user’s want rather than what they need
- they can get stale quickly – don’t fall into the trap of not updating them or using the same personas over and over again
- They should not be the only form of user centred design that is used in a project – personas are not a shortcut or a tick in a box
So make sure you use them properly, and most importantly of all – do your research first!
To make your life easier, here is a simple template to use for your user personas. Feel free to amend it in any way you like to make it work for you.
Hope it’s useful!