Steps to build persona that works in the real-world
Why persona? Your team is busy. No one will remember all the complex data and insight about the user. Persona is for that
Let’s start with the why: Your team is busy. No one will remember all the complex research data and insights that compounded over time. Persona is for that—it helps the team to consume insights in a readable way.
Your team needs a continuous research cycle. You can't just conduct a research initiative, create a persona, and call it done. Instead, the research practice has to be continuous and rapid. I'll write another article for this next week. It’s better to build the persona slowly as you go.
1/ Build a plan. Articulate your hypothesis and be explicit about what "decision" you would make if you got the insight.
The research's goal is not to build the persona
The research's goal is to help you make a decision
Persona is only a tool to document the insights you get
2/ Conduct. The next obvious step is, of course, to conduct the study. To listen. To observe. Pay attention to biases. When observing, I like to write down the verbatim—word by word. While also paying attention to the nuances—what's the meaning behind the world users verbalizing considering the context?
3/ Have a quick debrief. It's essential to have a quick debrief after your team the moderated session. In my team, I use Miro and synthesize it with this format:
About (What is interesting about this user)
Goal (What is their goal)
Motivation (Why they want to reach the goal)
4/ Have a big debrief. Once you finished the whole session. Debrief, again. What makes this session different from the quick debrief is that now you have talked to a few users. It’s time to find the pattern, watch out for outliers, and connect the dots. Basically, you want to finalize the analysis of the qualitative insights you get.
5/ Document the insight. You can use many frameworks to document the insight. The persona format is useful to capture insights into the different archetypes of users. Just use a simple doc or slide. Keep it lightweight. No need to put it in a fancy format (like the one you can find on Google with pictures and sliders 🤣 )
P.S. Paid subscribers can access the simple persona template and additional tips by the end of this article to put your learning into action. Also, you'll get a few inspirations.
Decision-first approach: An approach to create actionable insights (with template)
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