8 November 2018

At the core of most design methodologies, whether it be UXD, Lean Startup, Design Thinking (or a myriad of other processes), one of the most important themes is customer intimacy. Essentially, these processes look at understanding your customers - their needs, wants, pains etc., and invoking empathy in the designer. Of course, there are many other nuances to these processes, such as testing designs with customers and iterating, but the core of them is a significant increase in customer empathy.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Personas provide a relatively simple and easy methodology to invoke empathy in your design team
  2. Creating personas through a rigourous process can help uncover key customer needs, wants, and pains - which are almost priceless when optimizing customer experience.
  3. Much of the value of personas lies in the process of creating them, and less in the physical document
  4. If you aren't creating personas for your product development process, start soon.

In large corporates, we've seen significant investment in these processes.

Personas are one of our favourite tools when

What is a persona?

Why use them?

Personas ultimately help create more empathy, and a deeper understanding of customers. By creating a fictional person (representative of a customer segment), designers move from designing at the segment level e.g., Men aged 30-45 who work in banking, to designing for an individual e.g., John, a 33 year old man, who's a banker and wishes he had more time for his family. While the difference might appear insignificant, the results can be truly impressive. Empathy is the first step in the Design Thinking process, and this tool provides a structured way to actually invoke it.

What value do they add?

Much of the perceived value of personas lies in the physical document.

However, we believe that the process of creating personas is what makes the critical difference in the design team. That being said, there is definitely value in creating a document and sharing that across your team or organization. It would also be impractical to have full teams entirely dedicated to the persona process. However, by conducting customer research, and really speaking to customers, designers can understand customers profoundly, and the benefits to the product design process can be significant.