Persona Development Service
One of the most effective ways to capture, communicate and use research findings is to develop “personas”.
Personas are fictional characters which represent key attributes and behaviours of customer segments. They are widely used in digital development, but need to be grounded in real user research and customer data to be of value.
Our methodology is designed to ensure that personas are an authentic reflection of customer research, and to enable personas to be used as a key tool to measure online behaviour and drive digital development.
It is central to our methodology that basic decisions about user segmentation, and the attributes and behaviours attributed to personas, are founded on research rather than guesswork.
Our methodology involves using a mix of qualitative and quantitative research data to build personas. We develop the personas in order specifically to guide:
- digital development: what features are of most value to which personas? How should digital activities be prioritised?
- tracking of customer segments: how can an organisation track the online behaviour and user journeys of key segments?
Step 1 – Review of existing customer knowledge
We start by reviewing the existing data on your online customers which will help to build an initial high-level segmentation.
This may include:
- existing qualitative research (e.g. focus groups, usability testing) with your online customers
- existing analytics data
- any publically available research data or findings about customer behaviour in your market sector.
From this, we will:
- create an initial segmentation of your customers (e.g. by demography, device use), which we will use to recruit for qualitative research (Step 2).
- Identify “knowledge gaps”, and decide what are the issues we need to understand in more depth about your online customers’ behaviour.
Step 2 – Face-to-face user research
At this stage, we will use our user research methods to develop a more detailed picture of your customers’ online behaviours and attitudes.
We will typically recruit 12 of your current or potential customers, based on the knowledge achieved in Step 1, for 1- hour face-to-face user moderated research sessions.
The sessions will be structured to an agreed framework in a discussion guide. This will involve a combination of open discussion and structured tasks on your website or app.
We will typically seek to understand from participants:
- their device behaviour: how they use different devices to access your site, and what factors govern their choices
- their needs: what are the main things that they need to find on your website; what types of reassurance are they looking for
- their frustrations/ pain points: what aspects of your website are likely to deter them from completing a task or transaction
- their buying behaviour: what are the key factors that influence their decision to purchase
- their attitudes: particularly how they think about making purchases online in your market sector.
Step 3 – Persona development
The findings of the qualitative research will be the basis for developing online customer personas – typically 4 to 6 personas in all.
Each persona will normally be described on a single page, to a similar format. This will include:
- the persona’s “name”, and some demographic indicators
- a description of their online behaviours and attributes across all their digital activities
and, specifically in relation to your website/market sector:
- their device use (what devices do they use when)
- their buying behaviour (what are their normal purchasing patterns)
- their needs and frustrations (what is likely to motivate or inhibit purchase decisions)
- high value features and functionality (what would be of particular value to this persona).
Once the personas have been developed in draft, we will hold a workshop with your key stakeholders and development team to present the personas and discuss how the personas can contribute to your UX strategy.
Step 4 – Incorporating personas into measurement
To embed the personas into the measurement of online behaviour, the personas need to be incorporated into the segmentation used by your online metrics software (such as Google Analytics).
This allows you to gain an understanding of how the online activity of your customer segments is changing over time, and how changes to features and functionality affects the behaviour and user journeys of each persona.
We will work with your analytics team to:
- create a segmentation within your analytics tools to reflect the online personas, to measure key indicators by segment.
- set measurable goals per segment.
The key deliverables are:
- A full set of personas, validated by both quantitative and qualitative research
- A summary of research findings
- A segmentation within your analytics tools to reflect the agreed personas.
The benefits of personas
There are a wide variety of potential benefits from using personas to drive digital development.
These include the following:
- Research findings can be encapsulated and personalised in individual users – it can be a simple way to communicate complex research data.
- Users’ goals and needs can be a common point of focus for the UI development team.
- The UI team can concentrate on designing for a manageable set of personas knowing that they represent the needs of many users.
- Design decisions can be based on how the user interface design meets identified user goals/needs, rather than subjective ideas of “good design”.
- Features can be prioritised based on a clear understanding of which user groups will benefit.
- User data can segmented by personas, giving a more intelligent understanding of user behaviour.
Who is it for?
Personas are particularly useful for organisations that currently lack a clear understanding of their online user segmentation, and need a tool to synthesise knowledge of online users into a simple, consistent format.