Personas have become a staple of good UX design. These fictional, yet research-based representations of target users help product teams empathize with and design for their core audiences.

Personas are often used in the initial design phase, but they have the power to improve decision-making at every stage of building your product. Here’s why personas should stay top of mind throughout product development:

🕵️ Discovery and Research

Since validated personas can inform every step of the process, our team always creates personas at the project kickoff workshop. Personas are created based on user behaviors, attitudes, pain points, and goals. They direct the product team to ask the right questions to validate assumptions during qualitative research. 

Insight: Our favorite way to conduct qualitative research is through customer interviews. These interviews focus on learning more about a persona’s context and pain points.

🎨 Design

During the design phase, personas put a memorable name, face, and story to whom the product is meant for. Personas can provide a quick overview of user wants and needs. 

For example, you could use phrases like, “This feature might be confusing to Carly the CISO” or “This will save Devon the DevOps Engineer hours of work each week.” This allows the whole team to quickly decide on design priorities.

Insight: Our design phase includes super heavy user testing with real users and sometimes without real users.

🛠️ Development

Personas give crucial context for developers as to why certain features take priority over others. By referring to the personas, developers can see how each piece they are building maps back to making the product usable and useful for the user. Personas can even inform technical decisions, as developers consider how to craft experiences optimized for each user group’s behaviors and capabilities. 

Storytime: On a recent project, we began mapping out lots of features our DevOps persona would use. Before we made much progress, we wondered if the CISO persona was our real target user. We ended up altering the features to target the CISO persona, the user who makes the buying decision.

🧪 Testing

Usability testing aims to validate designs and workflows with real users. When finding testers, we compare personas with potential testers’ attributes, attitudes, and motivations. After testing, our team makes adjustments based on the feedback of the persona-based user. 

Insight: Ideally, research at this phase reveals ways the product can create delight for its intended users.

🚀 Marketing and Launch

Lastly, personas come into play for product marketing and launch. Personas inform the product’s positioning and messaging. With this in mind, highly targeted campaigns can speak directly to the emotions and personalities of each customer type. Website copy, demo accounts, and advertising can all be tailored with personas in mind.

"A fisherman does not bait his hook with food he likes. He uses food the fish likes…" – Baden Powell

⭐ It all comes down to this

Personas function like a North Star to guide decisions throughout each phase of product development. Personas that are continually referenced help teams build the right product the right way. The investment put into persona research pays dividends over the product lifecycle. So be sure to keep personas top of mind at every stage for better outcomes.

It’s time to follow the north star if you aren’t already. Create a persona in less than 5 minutes with our free persona app. 

Start creating your own persona 

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