Basic Understanding of Personas

At Viki, everything we build, we will build based upon our user personas. In meetings, during Brainstorming/Sketchstorming sessions, we will always have the Persona paper printout pasted on the wall. By doing so, every team member including the PMs, Engineers, QAs and even the CEO will be aware of the specific users that we are creating for.

What are Personas?

Personas are a group of unique fictional characters that represent the real users to enable a focused approach to be used to make design decisions. On top of that, personas also represents patterns of real life users’ behaviour, their goals and motivations in using the product.

“To create a product that must satisfy a broad audience of users…you will have far greater success by designing for one single person”. 
Alan Cooper (The Inmates are Running the Asylum)

Why Persona is important?

  1. With personas, it can help the team to focus (or prioritised) on what matters most to the user. Hence, creating designs (or experience) that are optimised for them.
  2. Without well defined personas, we will fall into the trap of making assumptions about what is ‘valuable’ to them.
  3. We are all about helping users to achieve their goals and not to seek the number of ‘Likes’ for your Dribbble. Using personas can help you to design solutions that reduced their frustrations in accomplishing their desired goals.
“Who’s really using this product, and what do they really want to accomplish?” — Alan Cooper

Persona is not just about what they like or what they dislike. Personas concentrate on what a user does, what frustrates them, and what gives them satisfaction. A good persona is a narrative that describes a person’s typical day and experiences, as well as skills (i.e. tech skills), attitude, background, environment, and goals. Personas identify the person’s motivations, expectations, aspirations and behaviour.

In short, I strongly recommend the use of personas at the beginning of ideation stage of any product development. Heck, get real users involved if you can recruit some of them.

The standard persona mapping diagram. (Photo credits: Rika and Sid)

Next time, when someone says this to you: “Oh wow, VR/AR is so trendy right now! Let’s create something like Pokemon GO for our product too.” First, you need calm them down, and then ask them these questions: “Who is the user?”, “Any user research data (interviews, scenarios & use cases) to back support it?”


Teo Choong Ching