I am sitting here on a Friday at 4.23PM in…
I first came across the notion of a user persona in my earliest introduction courses to Engineering Psychology. A core principle of user experience designers everywhere, designing for a persona, means designing for an identified set of user goals and desired content. These goals and desires are initially discovered and validated during the user research process. When creating personas, it’s important to answer questions like:
- Who is the person?
- What segment do they belong to?
- What are their demographics?
- What are their goals?
- What is their attitude likely to be?
- What trends are applicable to this persona?
- Are they a fast or slow decision maker?
- Do they make decisions based on fact or emotion?
This definition process is not always straightforward, and may necessitate an in-depth user research phase, incorporating observational, survey, and interview studies.
In a client-agency relationship, the discovery and development of accurate user segments is helpful for both parties.
From the client perspective, understanding your users is an invaluable asset. It determines the very essence of your existence as a company, whether providing a product or service. Without a clear focus on that end-user, market penetration and customer engagement become a much farther reach. For the agency, identifying future users helps to keep the vision on-target. This is true when it comes to high level design thinking as well as on the individual feature level. Personas can help define new, necessary features, as well as prevent the introduction of extraneous ones. This helps avoid scope creep while ensuring the development of a relevant, accessible product.
A next step to the persona exercise, the content matrix is a quantifiable, actionable, way to visualize persona-driven content.
Once personas are identified, it’s helpful to outline content of interest for each segment. Using a matrix creates fields to rank content against user persona needs and business goals. Plotting these data points yields an overall importance score for each content type. Such a visual clearly illustrates what content deserves promotion and similarly points out what content is not as important. In some instances there is a large discrepancy between persona and business goals. These are the key discussion areas on content to determine either inclusion or exclusion from the platform. A visual representation, as shown above, is a quick reference for key stakeholders to understand business decisions and provides a road-map for feature and content definition. The goal of the content matrix exercise is to identify how to position your experience at the intersection of persona and business priorities. Doing so inevitably leads to higher impact and a more rewarding experience for users and your business.
The combination of the persona and content matrix exercises yields data that will help optimize an experience to accomplish business objectives while satisfying customer needs. In some instances, taking this approach and learning more about how customers interact with your brand may disrupt earlier beliefs. Consequently, additional persona and content exploration may be required to fully comprehend the user’s priorities. As an ongoing process, the same is true as customers evolve and become more familiar with your products or services. Continually adapting interactions to stay in harmony with needs and expectations reveals a finesse that directly influences the customer experience. Ultimately, the goal is to drive that experience forward and connect with users, thereby increasing customer brand affinity and leading to overall business and user success.