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Creating a Product Wall (4/7) - Personas

November 20, 2023

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This article continues from the Product Wall introduction article. These series are co-written with Ryan Brook based on our upcoming book. You can download our free Product Wall Mural template here.

Now we have covered the general overview of the entire Product Wall, we break it down piece by piece. In this article, we explain the Personas section.

In order to understand what we need to build, we need to understand our users. And much like creating a stakeholder map, there usually isn't just one single type of user you serve. By creating fictional characters, based on observations of actual users, an understanding is formed for developers how to design, build, and test the product and its Increments to make it useful. Developers get a deeper insight into our user's needs, desires, experiences, and goals. Let's have a look at some example personas of our book's fictional company called Magnum Opus.

MO Personas
Magnum Opus' personas

Personas are not individual people

Just to get that out of the way; a persona is not a very specific person that has been interviewed once. It's more of a fusion of many elements in certain groups of people that use (parts) of your product. In this fictitious case, Magnum Opus is creating biometric security devices that are used by airports worldwide. Now, Ryan and I frequently travel internationally, so we made our observations along the way and talked to people to base these characters on. Besides that, you can have some fun with it, too. 

Sander's thoughts

Important to point out that these are made based on observations and not sucked out of thin air. Setting them in stone, much like all the other aspects of our Product Wall, would therefore not be recommended. It may lead to missed opportunities or false assumptions. Make sure to regularly inspect and adapt. 

The same goes for the template. We've chosen to keep them straightforward and easy to use so that our readers (thank you for reading this article!) can immediately start using them. Let's go through the elements.

Zoomed in
Zoomed in version of Marcia

Personal quote of goal: What is it that these personas want? How would they phrase it? Understanding what their goals are makes it easier to think about the work we need to perform, or better yet - not do. This could be something directly related to your product itself, or to the area or activity they use your product for. In the example, we're seeing a variety of these. Marcia talks about the security process itself that is taking too long, whereas Wesley is talking about what happens after security. 

Demographical information: Age, job, personal information, maybe some short additional information to put the quote into context. As mentioned later in this article as well, you can add as many details as you want, but we decided to keep it brief and short. Knowing the demographic groups might provide information about for instance their tech-savviness. Older generations might not be able to keep up with new technology, like Sander's 74-year-old father. 

Situation and context: From here on down in the template, we've chosen to stick to post-its to spark discussion and conversations. Putting in too much detail might make the developers biased or ignore other factors, as information gets handed to them pre-digested. "Situation and context" briefly describes some characteristics, traits, and what type of airport program she uses. The Excellence program unlocks premium perks like lounges etc. This type of information helps to tailor the product to the personas. Put into a different context: people buying cars with a 5-star safety rating will highly likely not need a crash helmet. While cars like the Ferrari Monza SP1 and SP2 legally require a helmet to drive. Coming up with a prestige design helmet might be something that buyers of this model are interested in and willing to pay a premium price for, as the model can be displayed inside their homes as a demonstration.

Ferrari Monza SP1
Ferrari Monza SP1

Goals and motivations: What is it that gets these people out of bed? What do they want to achieve? Are they excited to use our product or use our product? People like Marcia who are frequent flyers may find the airports a necessary evil, whereas Wesley is looking forward to being on-site, and Robbie is there every day in order to fulfill more of a transcendent purpose. How can you leverage these insights? What could Magnum Opus' clients (i.e. airports) learn from this? For instance, positioning certain security options at different places to optimize the experience for different groups, and so on.

Fears and frustrations: Knowing keeps people up at night provides great input to make the best experience possible. One of the things we noticed our Marcia persona does is get confused and frustrated when the direction or handling of a certain device is too ambiguous or takes longer than 15 seconds to figure out. Having a good look at the UI/UX might provide a good move. These are direct impacts on your user satisfaction levels.

Tasks and tactics: What happens during "a day in the life of (insert persona here)"? How do they prepare for a trip for instance? Are they heavily prepared, or are they fuzzy? Do they want to check in online a day prior? What options can we provide them with to take away as much hassle as possible at the airport itself?

Personalize your personas

Again, these are just a few elements. You can augment this template with whatever you need. Here are a few examples of what you could add to make it even more detailed:

- Pictures!
- Sliders to scale out certain areas
- Data and statistics (for instance how much time they ideally want to spend before, during, and after security)
- Channels of influence
- Empathy Maps

We are not the bearer of truth (shocker, we know). We would hate to see people blindly adopting this article or template and figuring it would solve all of their Persona issues. It does not. We would love to see Personas that you have used and how you gathered information for them. Feel free to reach out or drop some comments!

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