Creating user personas in the early stages of design thinking defines a product’s chances or service’s future success. You can use these two ways to let user personas help you strategize your design decisions to create a product your end-users will love:
- Understand And Solve Your User Problems
As a fictional and archetypical representation of real-life users, user personas help designers empathize, understand, and solve problems users experience. Gaining insight into wants, feelings, thoughts, motivation, and user behaviors allows designers to design in a way that will best serve and satisfy real users’ needs.
User persona creation can be presented as a three-step process:
- Data collection
First, we need to collect data about motivations, problems, goals, and expectations from users themselves.
- Exploring behavioral patterns
Previously collected data enables us to look for behavioral patterns, general and specific, and user goals.
- Building a description of user archetypes
Lastly, we create an actual person with a face, thoughts, wants, needs, fears, and background story. It helps designers develop empathy toward user personas as if they were real people with real problems.
Being able to empathize with people for whom we’re designing, feeling what they’re feeling, and understanding them thoroughly, helps us create desirable solutions that can help them. There are many ways and methods used to find answers and collect data that enable you to empathize and design in a user-centric way:
- Designer assuming a beginner’s mindset
Designers should try to do their best to observe without their assumptions and experiences standing in the way. Instead, a designer should assume a beginner’s mindset, question everything, and pay attention to what others say.
- Asking What-How-Why
By asking these three questions, we can record and analyze details of what has happened (What?), in what way, and with how much effort (How?). Lastly, it helps us make calculated guesses regarding the user’s motivations and emotions (Why?).
- Conducting interviews
One-on-one interviews are a productive way to connect with real people you’re designing for. Interviews allow for personal intimacy and forthrightness of other observation methods. It helps designers gain insights and target specific information areas they need to direct the design thinking process.
- Using photo and video user-based studies
Photographing or recording target users can help your innovation efforts by uncovering emotions and needs people may or may not be aware of. One way to use this empathizing method is to have a group of people with characteristics representative of your target users and record them while experiencing a problem you want to solve. You’ll be able to access these recordings at any time and share them with the rest of the team to see what people said, the emotions they experienced, and the behaviors they exhibited.
- Engage with extreme users
Extreme users are the people on either end of the spectrum of users who typically need less or more of something to fulfill their needs. You want to engage with extreme users to sift out and minimize design problems that can show up in extreme situations.
Bodystorming refers to physically experiencing a situation in the real-world environment, which puts the design team in the users’ shoes. This method not only boosts empathy, but, even more importantly, helps designers come up with the most suitable solutions.
- Test And Correct Design Pitfalls
Persona-based testing helps determine and explore the scenarios of how users may use the product and problems they may encounter along the way. It takes off the guesswork from whether your product meets the expectations and allows for corrections. By conducting tests, designers can build products that will satisfy a more extensive user base’s quality standards.
Three widely-used persona-based testing methods help designers test for any issues and further improve products and applications:
- Scripted testing
The scripted testing approach doesn’t allow deviation from the script. There’s a script with well-documented test cases and test steps to follow. The test cases can be executed manually or with automated tools. The scripts can come in many programming and scripting languages. This type of testing is suitable for testing higher-risk applications such as financial applications. Also, it’s a type of testing fitted for situations when there’s not enough time for documentation and planning and when test coverage is necessary.
- Exploratory testing
Exploratory testing is noted for being able to detect more defects and being more susceptible to changes. There’s no script to follow, with test design and test execution taking place parallelly. It allows greater tester autonomy which tries to uncover unanticipated issues through discovery investigation and learning. The testers empathize and mirror the user experience of the application. Exploratory testing is suited for the agile development approach.
- UX and usability testing
The UX and usability testing are used to determine how usable a digital product is from a user-centered perspective. Rather than focusing on what users say, this type of testing focuses on what users do and enables testers to see if they struggle with a task or not. Simultaneously, it observes real users’ behavior and reactions as they use a product and complete pre-defined tasks.
There are different types of usability testing and tools you can use:
- Moderated or unmoderated usability test
Unlike unmoderated usability tests, moderated tests require a tester to be present, whether in person or remotely. Tester gives the test to the participants, answers questions, and asks additional questions if necessary. This type of direct interaction can give in-depth insights, but is also more cost- and time-intensive.
In unmoderated testing, perform the assigned tasks at home and on their devices. This type of testing requires a usability test script and test scenario. Although it’s cheaper and sometimes quicker to conduct unmoderated tests than the moderated ones, there’s no chance to ask additional questions and gain deeper insights.
Moderated tests are better if you’d like to learn more about the reasons behind certain user behaviors. But, if you want to observe behavior patterns and test a specific use case, you may want to opt for an unmoderated usability test.
- Remote or in-person usability testing
Usability testing can be conducted remotely, over the phone or Internet, or in-person. While in-person testing has the advantage of gaining more in-depth insights, remote usability testing can involve a large number of users from across the world.
If you want to gain a deeper understanding of potential issues your users may experience, you’d like to choose in-person usability testing. But, if you need to test target groups from different countries and look for a more general set of results, you should go for remote testing.
User personas are an inevitable part of a design thinking process. They help avoid biased notions of how people use and respond to an application or product. Designing the product while keeping in mind user personas’ needs and wants will set the product for success once it enters the markets. This type of product will be accepted, desired, and profitable because it solves users’ problems and is easy to use.