Consumer personas pave the way for well-planned user experiences. Without properly developing demographic and psychographic profiles of your company’s customers, discovering their issues with the user experience will be nearly impossible. Read on to learn how to develop personas.

Meet Sally Niederhoffer. She’s a single woman in her late twenties. She works in regulatory capital prepping her company for governmental stress testing. She likes a nice bottle of wine and secretly enjoys watching Star Trek reruns. She has no patience for shopping, so she just buys whatever brands she equates with status and quality. In Young & Rubicam’s 4Cs (Cross Cultural Consumer Characterisation), she’s an Aspirer. She’s also not real.

Developing a successful product is a long process that starts with Sally. Or rather, it starts with imagining Sally and her psychographic profile. Without getting a strong understanding of a consumer, designing a user-friendly product will be a series of missteps and failures.

Sally N. is a persona created to understand how a consumer like her would use an existing product, and developing personas like Sally’s is the first step to developing a very successful new one. With a strong idea of your customer’s persona, deconstructing user experience becomes infinitely easier. These two processes, persona development and user experience deconstruction, cement the foundation from which to build all future-state designs and development efforts. The first two steps link strategy and product, dismantling the entire experience into discrete journeys, interactions, and capabilities.

While there is no singular way to develop personas or deconstruct experiences, Centric Digital’s methods are field tested and successful.

Rinse, Repeat, Reveal Consumer Insight

Creating consumer personas is one of the most effective ways to analyze, empathize, and engage with a company’s own customers. Sometimes it can be difficult for product developers to see their work from an end-user’s perspective, leading to confusing user experiences.

First, a product development team needs to identify the target audience and learn from them. The development team should work closely with marketing, strategy, and customer insight teams to uncover demographic and psychographic insights that ultimately will help decide which users are most relevant to a project.

With this target audience in mind, a team can couple traditional consumer research techniques (one-to-one interviews, focus groups, and mass surveys) with ethnographic research to understand different users’ attitudes, motivations, and behaviors. This data should give a company a broad-stroke idea of their users: are they Aspirers, like Sally N., or Succeeders, or Reformers? A crucial second round of research will then concretize a team’s understanding of each user type, and psychographic and demographic data will become clear.

From this data, a team can pull certain attributes to effectively and efficiently describe each persona or end-user type. This description must be distilled into a persona document and will communicate the key characteristics of a user. Persona documents are even more detailed than Sally Niederhoffer’s profile, and include quotes, high-level consumer journey samples, and user motivations, goals, and pain points.

After personas are realized, they must be imbued within the company. Everyone from C-Suite executives to associates need to consider their company’s targeted personas and how the work affects them. Without full buy-in, developed products won’t solve end-user problems or adequately serve them.

When personas suffuse the company, the development team can start to explore each persona’s user experience in fine detail, uncovering unnecessary complications, frustrations, or pointless features.

More to Come in Part 2 – Deconstructing Experiences