Your Guide to Effective Persona Building to Connect Product and Experience

Analogy Design
  • Date Published
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Persona building is indeed one of the most crucial aspects of the design thinking process, at the same time, also very crucial to the success of your product.

Ian is a 35-year-old Architect and has been working with a design firm for the last four years. He is happily married to Grace and has twins – Lilly and Ivy, who are turning three this year. They also have a cat named Kittle and a dog named Oscar. Ian enjoys outdoor adventure, hiking, biking, fishing, swimming, mountaineering, and painting in the grassland. In his free time, he is currently streaming “Bodyguard” on Netflix and loves to spend time with his girls and wife playing a chef and a story-teller. Ian is funny and with his easy-going attitude enjoys a good life. He also helps others in need whenever he can and contributes to a few charities from his savings.

Now, do you think you know Ian a little better?

Ian is a semi-fictional character who represents a type of customer for say, a shoe brand. Why semi-fictional? Because he represents an amalgamation of the different types of customers who purchase this shoe brand.

By understanding a little more about Ian’s job, family, interests, and values, you are able to humanize him and make him relatable. Now, we can design for Ian. This persona plays a huge role in how we design and market products and experiences. But in organizations, there will always be people who will say…

So, why does one need to create personas? Glad you asked!

Alan Cooper, the inventor of Personas, defined them in his book, The Inmates Are Running The Asylum as “Personas are not real people, but they represent them throughout the design process. They are hypothetical archetypes of actual users. Personas are defined by their goals.” One of the biggest mistakes that designers, product teams, and marketers make is not mapping their persona.

Is There a Disconnect Between Product and Experience?

A failed persona building is often the biggest barrier to the future growth of any business. But most businesses continue to ignore the very aspect of building personas because they are unaware that personas:

  • Enable a thorough understanding of customer needs and what they are looking for.
  • Contribute to the process of product development that helps them achieve the right results.
  • Bring in a customer-centric vision to the products.
  • Can guide the design direction that would most appeal to the target audience.
  • Help seamlessly connect product and experience.

While building a design system, the personas should be mapped properly, to better equip you to satisfy your customer and bring in improved user experience. It also helps in building experiences that are tailored to the key demographics and define a clear direction.

Personas Provide the Right Design Direction

Personas help designers shape the right product strategy and resulting design direction. A deep understanding of personas helps designers visualize who they are creating the product for and which elements are necessary from a user-centric point of view. For example, for an FMCG product, where there is little to no digital interface, the persona will be different whereas, for a fitness brand with a digital activity tracker app connected to a smart shoe, the persona will again be unique. Personas mainly help in connecting product and experience, ultimately providing a great customer experience in the end.

How Should One Go About it?

Persona building is indeed one of the most crucial aspects of the design thinking process, at the same time, also very crucial to the success of your product. Imagine selling a high-class, fully customized, and high-tech refrigerator to a not tech-savvy elderly couple! Now, you can’t blame the sales team for not selling the refrigerator, can you? Don’t worry; we won’t even let that happen. Here’s a complete guide on effective persona building that you can use right away!

Step 1 – Collecting Information from the Right Sources

Make Use of Your Own Website

Your website is your digital window and one that provides a plethora of information – for free! Right from demographics, most active timeslots to behavior flow of your users, analytics will tell you everything. Use analytics as a starting point for building each new persona. Look for previous similar products, if you are building a new one and see the audience behavior to take clues.

Your Sales Team is Not Just for Cold Calls

True, right? The sales team does more than just sit in cubicles and make calls to prospective clients. Your sales team could provide a lot of information you didn’t even know. Who these people are, what do they do, where do they go, what’s the right time to contact them, what’s their lifestyle like, etc. – these are some of the most basic, yet most insightful questions that your sales team can help you with before you start creating the personas.

Are You Listening to Social Media?

Social media is called social for a reason. After all, it’s the biggest gathering of your customers, your competitors, and your competitors’ customers as well! Map your prospects and customers online, analyze their behavior, see what they are interested in, which brands they interact with, what’s their experience with respect to a particular product, etc; and you’ll gain more insights.

Step 2 – Identifying Behavioral Patterns

Now is the time to analyze what you gathered in the previous step. Take the whole research and list down all behavioral variables and identify trends. When we set out to design the Marvel accessories, the emphasis was on designing Marvel superheroes in a way that differentiated them from the rest of the Marvel merchandise. And an even bigger challenge was to think beyond a regular Marvel fan. This is where identifying behavior patterns of a Marvel fan and of a regular person who could be the future Marvel fan contributed to our stellar product design.

Step 3 – Creating Detailed Buyer Persona From Scratch

After you have identified all the behavioral patterns, it’s time to start creating your semi-fictional personas. For creating them, include the following information and be as detailed as possible:

  • Name
  • Demographics
  • Goals and needs
  • Behaviors
  • Pain points
  • Personality traits

Here is a sample of a persona we built for our client. Meet Ben!

 Step 4 – Exploring Interactions and Analyzing the Personas

While creating personas, scenarios help! They help designers to thoroughly test the personas and fill any gaps in their descriptions. A use case is basically one of the many interactions the customer has with the product or experience being designed. Present a relevant use case and ask “If XYZ happened, how would each persona react to it?”. If you are able to answer it correctly, then you are ready to start strategizing based on them and if not, then you need to conduct some more research and make some iterations till they pass the said test. Personas sometimes take a while to come up just right and it’s advisable to take the help of the leadership team and make some iterations till you are confident that they represent your audience. Doing this over multiple use cases can really help us flesh out the personas.

In a Nutshell

Personas are quite powerful tools and when mapped properly can aid in making the design process less complex and enhance the user experience. They guide the designers in taking the right design direction to build great products for the target audience and help them keep the real users at the center of every process they go through in the product development cycle. At Analogy, we follow a thorough persona building process where we collaborate with our clients and iterate to get the personas we need to design for. This is a key factor in the success of products and experiences we have designed.

If you are interested in knowing more about our persona building process or would like us to help you with one, do feel free to get in touch!