UX Persona — The Introduction

Updated: Dec 5, 2021

[per-soh-nuh], plural personae or personas

Depiction of Persona image @shutterstock
Depiction of Persona @shutterstock
In ancient Latin the word persona meant “mask.” The word also can refer to a character played by an actor. While a persona is not considered a lie or a falsehood, its meaning implies that it is only part of the truth. Like all masks, there is “real” person beneath. Often a performer will take on a persona to express certain parts of himself: the rapper Eminem also goes by the name Slim Shady to express his darker self.

What is a UX persona?

Personas are imaginary, yet realistic & detailed descriptions of the actual users of your product. They provide a basis for design discussions by concentrating on many sources (1) of user data into key focused, believable descriptions of your primary audience.

(1) Personas are created from collective information of heuristics, market research and usage analytic in order to focus future design and development efforts

Personas gives the team a user centered way of describing the real users of the product. It eliminates the vague identification of the audience as “the users”. To focus on some set characteristics with specific attributes means that product development takes those persona’s needs (goals, pain points and frustration) into account.

It is very crucial to get a buy in from the entire team on the concept of personas. The easiest way to ensure everyone agree on the key attributes is to get each one of them are involved in creation of the personas. The entire team includes client stakeholders participating in the brainstorming and focus group sessions along with the actual users. Persona also proves to be an effective tool in representing users in situations where users cannot be available (2). They guide the team in approaching solutions in a humane manner during the process of building a product or service.

(2) Proto personas are created on account of unavailability of the actual users during the early stages of user experience research. Unlike the standard persona, proto-personas are based on the assumptions of the stakeholders, and need to be verified against actual field research. Proto personas should not be replacement for a proper persona study, but should be used in conjunction with one. The proto-persona should serve as a benchmark in the UX process that produces a solid artifact to measure against the field research.

Now, how can just a few fake people be sufficient for designing a whole product?

The personas created are highly representative to a selected key users and their value is in the focus they provide to the entire team. Persona emphasises on delivering high value to the customers, then building numerous features to all the audience, thus streamlining product with a consistent message.

One of the interesting fact about persona-based design is that, although persona focuses on designing for a couple of key individuals, the vast majority of your user base is likely to share the same needs, or at least be able to work with the same features. Listing down clear focus on t