Personas. Understand potential users through prototypes.

What are personas, how are they developed and what benefits does the persona concept offer?

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Personas - understand potential users through prototypes
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Personas are conceived users of a solution, software, service or product.

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They have hobbies, values, motives, attitudes. And thus also expectations towards the usage of a product.

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As fictitious users they show usage patterns. And these patterns companies should/must consider when developing products or solutions.

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Is it important for you, if your users try to eat healthy and care for environmentally friendly driving? It may effect you, e.g. how do you convince environmentally conscious users of your product, if you decided to produce it in regions with lower environmental and social standards?

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What are personas?

It is difficult to anticipate the needs and requirements of users. In most cases it is impossible sit down beside them and watch them use products, to get to know them and to ask them about their personal and professional life, their goals and their experiences. The persona concept can help here. The method was invented by Alan Cooper, who first described it in 1995.

A persona represents a group of users. It has goals and motives, values and expectations, a need and shows user behavior. Through these concrete properties, personas help businesses to develop user-friendly products and solutions, even if the actual users remain unknown. In addition, personas help to make a user’s knowledge as well as assumptions about him or her visible. This makes communicating about users much easier. Subsequently, all project contributors are able to put themselves into their users’ shoes.

A persona is a prototype that represents a group of users. Personas have concrete characteristics and a specific way of using and interacting with products. Thus, they can also be described as ficticious users. They are based on data on future users of a system and give actors a face, a personal background, a family, an office, colleagues, preferences and much more.

In most cases multiple personas are developed at a time. The goal is to cover all potential users of an application, a product or a system as extensively as possible. In all cases, a persona has a name and a face (in form of a picture). Depending on the desired or required depth of detail more characteristics may be added, e.g. job description, marital status, goals, needs, wishes, education, knowledge, attitude toward the product, hobbies, expectations and so on.