It’s that time again. I’m thinking about personas. Well, I guess, I’m always thinking about personas, but right now I’m thinking about creating them for a particular project.
We’ve interviewed a variety of people and now we are distilling them down to key characteristics. Who are these people that I’ve been talking to? What themes am I seeing? Who is most important to meeting our client’s goals? Where am I going to get images that don’t scream “stock photo”? With so many decisions to juggle, it is good to know where to turn for inspiration.
For me that’s often a book called Communicating Design. I find it invaluable. It dissects components of personas and helps kickstart the process. Each time I open the book, I learn something new.
Mailchimp (my company crush) created beautiful personas a couple of years ago. Using a less formalized, but more polished format, they’ve come to use these as UX evangelizing tools. Their UX team put them up in a common area for the entire organization to read and make part of their daily practice.
See3 made some very actionable personas for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. I especially liked the “How to Connect” section of each one. Giving content authors a direct path on how to move forward, can present a unified message for the organization.
My colleague Melinda Miller always creates powerful, research-based personas. For a recent higher ed project, her team interviewed more than 30 potential users and distilled this down to seven personas. These personas will inform content strategy and information architecture, letting students focus on their education, not navigating a clunky site.
Once we’ve created our personas and everyone has rallied around them, they live on throughout the project. Our user stories will revolve around these personas. Planning and recruiting for usability testing will rely on these personas. For longer-term projects, they can serve the purpose of refocusing the team.
Oh, personas, how I love thee. Anyone else out there have examples of personas that they really like?