In other posts I talk about Actors and story-telling, and the benefits of knowing what you want from your new product launch, or from your improved business processes, or increased website click-through rates (for example), i.e. understanding your Customer and how they reconcile with your business and system requirements.
A useful techniques to help understand and articulate your real or imagined Customer’s behavior, their likes, dislikes and motivations is to create personas.
A persona is a, ‘…social role or a character played by an actor.’, but in the hands of a [software] usability expert, a Business Analyst or a marketeer, it becomes a powerful way to understand your proposition and market segmentation through the lens of a potential users or buyers, representing someone with particular skills, goals, attitudes and expectations. Personas – or personae if you speak ancient Greek(!) – can take on a whole life of their own, with back-stories, real names and pen portraits. It helps to encourage some right-brain creativity in your team, especially if you tend to be too close to the detail, and unable to think objectively about your product or service.
There is a limit to personas though; as they require some pretense and guesswork they can provide some direction but not definitive answers to questions. What would Joe Bloggs do in this situation, and what does Joanna Bloggs think about this design feature or brand? The logical next step is to ask Joe or Joanna, i.e. real typical Customers, via Market Research or Focus Groups. This is easier if your system or product is for internal use, otherwise the process becomes a lot more complicated, costly, and commercially sensitive.
I will let you into a little secret, I have an alter-ego online presence. Many years before the IT chemist was born with the creation of IT Elements I was, and still am, the BookGroupMan. This avatar is rather like me to look at, and he loves books and reading!
I’m not suggesting that you use pseudonyms to hide who you really are – authenticity is important too – but do think a bit more about what your Customers want, use your imagination to create imaginary service users, browsers and buyers.
As always thank you for your feedback and comments.
(c) 2015 Antony Lawrence CBA Ltd.