The Importance of Your Whole Team Understanding User Personas

User personas are vital if you want to build a product that meets the needs of your users. However, it’s no use developing user personas and forgetting them further down the line as your company grows.

Often, user personas are pushed to the back of the to-do list, as you develop your problem statement and solution hypothesis. Whilst these are also vital steps in defining and building a product, a team that understands user personas will have more focus and avoid conflicting opinions on the product direction.

Creates a Narrative for Your Team

When you have user personas identified, your team can focus on the ‘What would X do?’. It’s important that user personas aren’t left solely to the design team, as this makes it almost impossible for the rest of the company to empathise with the user personas’ needs. Having them known throughout your business gives everyone a direction when making decisions, understanding any changes made to the product, and makes the product feel more tangible — particularly in the early stages.

A Communication Tool with Stakeholders

Your user personas should be so specifically identified, that when discussing them with stakeholders, they have a clear image of who it is that needs your product. Not only are you user personas built from a demographic, but it’s also far deeper than that. You need to identify their passions, their fears, their ambitions, and what’s holding them back. By describing this, you can then describe exactly how your product is going to help them in their life and why they will buy it.

For an MVP release, you may find your user persona needs X and Y, but could live without Z. From there, you can identify lightweight solutions and overcome any hurdles based on the needs of your user persona.

So, how do you design your user person?

You’ve heard the benefits of why you need user personas — but how exactly do you design them? When you decided to start a product-based startup, you are likely to have roughly thought about the kind of person you see buying it. Their age, their income. However, user personas are far deeper than this, and they can be broken down into two sections: the story and the scenario.

‘The Story’ is your user personas background, it’s their demographic (age, gender, occupation, income), their more general traits (interests, hobbies, likes, dislikes) and then their psychological traits (needs, aspirations, motivations, fears). The Story is quite literally the user’s story, and it’s with this information that you can then start to formulate ‘The Scenario’.

‘The Scenario’ will make or break your product’s ability to fulfill its needs. This is the interactions with the product, the decisions around buying it and the reality of whether its cost outweighs the need for a solution to the user personas’ problems. You can break this down into:

  • Setting the situation — what’s the problem?

If your team can agree on these answers based on their knowledge of the user personas, then you’re in a strong position. A team understanding your user persona’s behaviours is the key to building a strong successful product and maintaining focus on your market and goals.

If you’re a tech startup looking for more information on the processes and methodology you could be implementing to maximise success and optimise your product, reach out to me via message or email: alex@thetechgorge.com

Alex Weekes is a Digital Product Manager, Associate Lecturer, and Startup Consultant working with some of the world's most innovative startups and technologies.

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