Beauty & Brains in Branding & Web

The Benefits of User Personas in Software Design

blog_02_300x120User-centered design is the practice of considering the needs, wants and limitations of a website or software product’s end-user and incorporating those considerations into the product’s design. By keeping the user in focus throughout the development process, you will create more useful and commercially viable products.

One great tool for achieving user-centered design is the creation of personas. Persona documents are concise illustrations of fictional characters that aggregate research findings into archetypes representing your end-users. Each persona will have its own goals and pain points for you to consider as you imagine them using your product. By creating personas early in the development process, you can instill user empathy in your team and allow that connection to guide design decisions, prioritize feature implementation, and motivate quality assurance.

Let’s take a look at some of the key benefits of user personas:

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Build Common Empathy and Understanding

Creating a persona and sharing it with your team allows them to step into the shoes of users and empathize with their needs. It transitions the “user” from an abstract concept into a real person that stakeholders can relate to.

While it may seem trivial, the impact of having project managers, designers, and developers understand who it is that they’re building their product for cannot be overstated. For example, a developer that notices a page loads slowly may be more inclined to resolve the issue when he can visualize the user who will experience the problem.

Isolate Motivations and Pain Points

Users aren’t just users, they’re individuals. Each person that uses your product has a set of motivations and frustrations that either drive them to use or abandon it. By performing user research such as surveys, interviews, and contextual enquiries, you can determine the patterns in the mental models of your users and apply them to your personas.

Investing this research into your personas will help you substantiate your assumptions and create more authentic user representations. The personas, and the quantitative and qualitative data that supports them, can then serve as a helpful reference for your team when confronting design decisions.

Personify Your Presentations

When it comes time to present your website or product to executives and stakeholders, personas become an invaluable tool. A truly great presentation tells a story and your persona is your story’s protagonist. By introducing your personas and walking them through your solution using storyboards and prototypes, you can help stakeholders gain a real-world understanding of how individuals will benefit from the product.

Personas are just one tool that you can use to help guide design, reduce development costs, and create better solutions. In upcoming blogs, we’ll be looking at additional tools, such as prototyping, that can help you improve your products and user experience. Subscribe to stay up to date.

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About Lucas

Lucas is a native of Montreal and completed degrees in Film and Professional Writing at Concordia University. As our web and multimedia producer, he assists clients looking to develop new web initiatives and supports the success of our websites through the implementation of multimedia projects. Alongside his interest in creative work, Lucas also has a passion for technology, comics, and all things geek. He can be contacted at lucas[at]htc.ca