What’s in a Persona?

Personas are a tool we use at Caplin to help us REALLY understand who our users are and engage everyone in the company in building something compelling that will delight our users.

No, I am not talking about a sexy, gimmicky UI which when first stumbled upon people go “Wow”. I am referring to a product that seamlessly fits into the user’s life, complements their day-to-day tasks and basically engages them to a level that they no longer can live without it.

So what is a persona?

A persona represents a group of users that hold the same goals – an archetype. These goals are not “I like to use this feature” BUT “what’s the end goal in an individual’s or company’s day/week. It’s only when we look outside the boundaries forged over time that we begin to really understand their needs. If you are passionate about doing this you will deliver products that delight.

The persona also includes people that are driven by the same motives, driving like-minded behavior with common frustrations.  Just think how powerful this is when developing a product. There will be no self-referential in a meeting room arguing, ” No, I think it should do this because that’s what I would like to do”, or “how cool would it be if we added this feature”.

EVERYTHING is referred back to the persona – does it help them achieve their goal? No? Then out. Yes, then how?  Design meetings become focused on making the persona’s life easier,  aligned to removing the pain points in their process. No swirling gimmicky feature just because the technology can do it, it has to add value to the persona.

At Caplin, we have found it has removed the ambiguity around the term “user” and has also been a great educational tool on who our users are. We are now seeing many developers refer to the persona by name in discussions and has really helped us “walk in the shoes” of our users and show real empathy during the development process.

The real power also comes when you use Personas with Narrative Journey Maps.

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