What’s your Persona-lity?


Everyone is different. And this is a very good thing! So why do so many businesses treat us all the same? Especially when it comes to their digital offerings? Is it the easy way out? Are they focused on one demographic on purpose? Or are they missing grand opportunities to welcome even more people?

Think about your work, and your customer. Are you really customer-focused? A good way to make sure you are is by implementing an analysis technique of creating Personas. Personas are important in so many ways, because they really bring out the roles, goals, and expectations of different amalgams of your customer. You can prioritize features accordingly, develop new products focused on particular value, and identify personas that maybe aren’t your targets. And they’re fun! Each persona gets a name and a picture. I like to have posters made of each persona and have them around the room so it’s almost like they’re real…OK, maybe that’s getting a little creepy, but I digress.

Here’s one of my favorite persona templates, from PDO REPO: https://psdrepo.com/free-psd/user-persona-template-freebie/

Persona Template

I love the “Personality” and “Traits” sections where you get a quick visual. I also love the “favorite brands” section where you can get a sense of the vibe that attracts the persona. The “Likes” and “Dislikes” in a persona should refer to those things about the product or service that you are developing that help guide your development. The “Goals” section details the things that they would use your product or service for – problems to solve, opportunities to exploit, etc.  My favorite thing on this template? The quote! What would this persona really say if they could speak?

Obviously, it’s not possible to make a persona card, sheet, or profile for every single one of your customers. What a daunting task that would be, and think about the long-term maintenance!! Yikes! So, the best approach is to group your persona “types” and amalgamate them into one per group. There’s no one right way to decide the groupings – it will depend on the product and service you’re offering – think about the combinations of demographic information, goals, age groups, personality traits, etc., and group accordingly. Then you’ve got what you need! Grab a template (there are many really good ones online), fill it in!

Important note: this is not a solo exercise! Personas are best developed collaboratively. If you’re an analyst in an IT setting, you definitely want to get folks on the business and operations side involved. Marketing people are awesome to collaborate with on personas – in fact, they may already have a library of personas that you can pull from: personas are a fabulous marketing technique as well! Not sure where to even begin? Get out in the field! Observe your customer in their native habitat. There is nothing better for persona analysis than to see real customers doing their real thing. (As an analyst, you should be spending at least 10% of your time in the field observing, but that’s a different post.)

Yes, I can hear your manager, too, saying that there is simply not enough time to do this; we’ve got deadlines! I would challenge back that we don’t have time to NOT do this. Think about it. Sure, at this moment, we need to invest some time to complete this exercise. But think about the future: you probably only need this big chunk of time once, and then you’ll have a collection of personas that are easily referenced in future work (but you still need to revisit them periodically to ensure they are still relevant). When you start the next feature or project, you’ll already have this piece done. And the best thing of all? You won’t waste a lot of time or money correcting things that you missed as you rushed feverishly toward a deadline, and ended up delivering something that wasn’t quite right. What was that thing that Grandma used to say? “A stitch in time saves nine.” This is what it means: one unit of effort today to prepare saves nine units of rework in future. Who knew Granny was so agile? Wisdom never changes.

So, go out, get yourself a template, start collaborating on those personas, and let me know how it goes! I’d love to hear from you!!

Next time: “I’ve got all these personas. Now what?”

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