Personas are fictional profiles, often developed as a way of representing a particular group based on their shared interests. They represent a “character” with which client and design teams can engage.
Why is it used?
Personas can provide a range of different perspectives on a service, allowing design teams to define and engage the different interest groups that may exist. Effective personas can shift focus away from abstract demographics, and towards the wants and needs of real people. Even though personas themselves may be fictional, the motivations and reactions they exhibit are real; personas are a collation of feedback elicited during the research state of a project, and as such embody the real-world perceptions surrounding the service.
When is it helpful?
When you might have an inkling that a problem exists, but you are not quite sure who it impacts and to what extent. This is a great tool to use in every design scenario in combination with other exploration tools.
How is it applied?
The most common way of developing personas is to collate research insights into common-interest groupings, which can then be developed into a workable character. The key to a successful persona is how engaging it proves to be, and thus a wide range of techniques – from visual representations to detailed anecdotal profiles – can be used to bring these characters to life. Most personas are developed from research insights gathered from stakeholder maps, shadowing, interviews and the like.
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