Validating Personas & Other Methodologies
A PROCESS, NOT A USER PORTRAIT
- Defining the Persona method
- How to get our assumptions out?
- How to validate our persona?
- Other Persona Methodologies
When we develop products, it is important to remember that we always design for someone who is different from ourselves. When you work with technology all day long you need to envision user’s needs and wants in connection with what we are working with for the time being.
When we build personas, we all you got our own assumptions that put us on dangerous grounds because we use our cognitive ability to categorize people into fixed types based on our previous meetings with people and our cultural background. An example of a category could be like: he wears ties and suits so he is probably very formal or she is a techy person then she must utilize lots of acronyms.
The goal of a persona method is to break our automated perceptions to better create empathetic descriptions of a user. At the same time, be careful with being the individual designer having your own perception incorporated into the persona. Instead, build an aligned and shared understanding of personas that are created and iterated among the project team.
When we create our personas, we need to get all those assumptions out. HOW?
Collection of Data: Learn and collect artifacts that will allow you to learn as much as possible about your user. Data comes from different resources like pre-existing knowledge in the organization.
Form a hypothesis: form a general idea of the various users within the focus area of the project, including in what way the users differ from one another. You learn this through your interview notes, recordings, artifacts, etc. SHARE SHARE with your central team.
Once you gathered data from your persona. Validate your persona. HOW?
There are all kinds of methods to do that. A few of my favorites:
- Do user interviews with people who fit your user's persona. Do 10–15 interviews, ask questions to validate problems, and gain insight on what they need. You don’t need lots of users or complicate things. You just need a simple reality check and start learning from the market stepping out from that lovely bubble you have.
- Create a survey. Aim for 100–250 responses. That should be quite representative. I like do to surveys for the following reasons:
- Surveys are an alternative venue for populations who wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to share their voice via interview.
- Conducting an interview first will let you engage in a conversation with the users. When you hear something interesting, you want to decide whether it’s a pattern or not, do a survey.
More tactics you can follow:
- Do observation
- Use analytics (GA, Mixpanel, others)
- Run a usability test
- Analyse customer support tickers
In this step, the goal is to support or reject the earlier hypotheses about the differences between the users. Here are two ways this can happen:
1. Showing project participants with the hypothesis and comparing it against existing knowledge.
2. Discussions with your team asking the big question “Are we assigning meaning to our user’s words? What can we do?”
Other Persona Methodologies
The Goal-Directed Perspective is a psychological tool for looking at problems and a guide for the design process. In this method, you utilize a hypothetical archetype who is not described as an average person but rather a unique character with specific details. The method focuses on choosing one persona as the primary while a number of secondary personas can be used on the side.
The Role-Based Perspective uses criticism as a starting point. It is very important that both qualitative and quantitative materials supplement the persona descriptions, and there should be a clear relationship between data and the persona description. This method is regarded as a usability method that can’t stand alone but should be used with other methods. The persona description itself should contain information about several issues: how big a share of the market the individual person takes up, how much market influence the persona has, computer proficiency, activities, the hopes and fears of the user, as well as a description of a typical day or week in life of the user.
The Engaging Perspective is intended to create empathy. It focuses on the ability of stories to create involvement and insight. The purpose of the engaging perspective is to go from designers seeing the user as a stereotype with whom they are unable to identify and whose life they cannot envision to actively involving themselves in the lives of the personas.
The Fiction-Based Perspective is often used to explore design and generate discussion and insights in the field.
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Don’t forget, any research is better than nothing.