Personas: Why Is it Important to Understand Your Users?

If you create a product for everyone, you’re creating it for no one. As much as you want to appeal to a wide audience with your designs, you need to get very clear about who it is you’re targeting and what they are looking for. These different users don’t have the same needs, and they’re drawn to your application or platform for different reasons.

What are these users’ expectations? What are their pain points? Knowing these different personas is essential to the design process. They guide the creation of a positive user experience that suits your unique target group. While you should take into consideration some of the preferences of your design team, the focus should always be on the primary users.

Designing your product for real people makes it more valuable. What features do your users actually want? How will they interact with these changes in the context of the entire application? Understanding your users is one of the most fundamentally important parts of running a successful application.


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What Are Personas?

First, let’s break down what personas actually are in relation to your app. This idea was first introduced in 1998 by Alan Cooper who was designing new software. He thought it was important to start a dialogue with future users to see just what they wanted from the development process. In this act of asking questions, he discovered a major part of product design: he needed to take a user-centred point of view.

Since then, Cooper’s idea has spread across the globe, and it’s used in all types of industries. Today, a persona is a clear outline of an individual who uses an app. These are usually fictional, but they can be based on real-life user questionnaires. These personas are in depth. They give biographical information, preferences,  motivations, and personality indicators. For apps specifically, there will be an emphasis on current brands and apps they use frequently, as well as their competence with different platforms.

Why Use Personas?

Now that you understand what personas are, why do you actually need them? Even if you’re already familiar with some key things about your audience, it’s useful to take things a step further. Creating a persona puts a face and a personality to this audience. It’s easier to say you’re going to design an app for John than that you’ll design an app for “20-something that are interested in fitness.”

You’ll also have a clear way to explain your ideal users to the entire company. Having a clear person to put in place of an audience makes it easier to introduce this individual to different departments. This is an effective, focused way to turn the conversation to the customer. You can make clearer decisions that suit your personas, not the designers.


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Personas and Design

How do these personas relate to the design process? Because you can delve into the psychology of your user, you can create a system that appeals to them specifically. You can design an application that fits into their current lifestyle and that solves their unique problems.

When focusing on the designers and programmers, it’s easy to get caught in technical things like syslog for newbies and monitoring. These are important parts of the process, but they’re not the only part. When it comes to building a design that works, you need to know your user inside and out.

Now that you recognize the importance of user personas, it’s time to put these ideas into action. Start building your user base today so you can reflect on the most important analytics tomorrow. Finally, put a face to your growing audience.

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