Let’s say you want to design a website to help SMEs people get lawful permission. You wonder, “I like this website , can I design like this?”. You can, but are you sure it is suitable for your purpose?. “How do you know if the design is suitable for the purpose?”. The answer is, just imagine that you are actually the customer, the one who wants to establish new business and wonder how to secure law permission. Imagine, what are your characteristics, needs, and what are you going to do in order to achieve the solution.
Apparently, there is a term that illustrates what I have mentioned before. It is called persona. Persona is a fictional character that represents your website’s intended users. It doesn’t have to be only one character, you can make many of them. How can I make personas? Basically, personas are made from user research that asks about users’ background, their problem, etc. From the research, we can observe patterns and group them into several personas that will represent our search.
Persona in Theory
Since I don't know a lot about design, I always thought Persona is only a fictional character that is made to represent user who will use our applications. I never thought how do we make a persona, is it a generalization or just a guess?
Theoretically, here are some steps to build personas:
- Collect data
Before collecting, we need to define target user groups. To my surprise, people already define target user groups (which I always thought persona is the same as target user groups). Then, collect as much as data from user groups by doing user research.
- Create a hypothesis
Based on initial research, we will form a general idea of different users. We will notice how user A differs from user B.
- Confirming whether the team accepts the hypothesis
Although you may notice that there is a difference among users, we need to confirm the hypothesis. Compare the hypothesis with our existing knowledge. Do reject or accept the hypothesis
- Decide on how many personas are made
Usually, after noticing patterns, we will create a persona based on each pattern that we observe. Personas could be made from 3-5 people. In my opinion, 3 personas are enough to represent the pattern.
- Describe the persona
Since we want to develop solutions based on user needs, we want to make sure that our personas cater user needs. One thing that I learn is that we need to understand and have empathy of what user wants and needs. Therefore, we need to describe our persona as real as the users look like. Here are information that are useful for building personas:
- Include details such as education, interests, goals, behaviors and economic background.
- Add fictional personal details to make them more realistic. It is better to put a photo too.
Give each persona a name.
Prepare persona scenario
What's more important in persona is not only the character itself, but we want to know the scenario on how a persona would solve their problem. From their problem, we need to identify what things that a persona would like to do in order to solve their problem. Then, direct them to our solution, which is our applications.
- Clarifies with the stakeholders
Now we are done with defining persona. It is time to presenting the results to stakeholders. Stakeholders may approve or even giving an advice to improve the result. It may sound scary, but since we do it based on data, there is nothing to worry about. If there is a thing that may not be approved, we still can fix it by doing iterations again. How to identify stakeholders? If you are working with client, then the stakeholders are your client.
Example of Personas
Luckily, my project group got personas quickly, thanks to our partner . We are going to make a web application to help people build a company or SME in securing legal authorization. Here are our personas:
In our personas, we made three fictional characters. Their names are Rizka, Tarto, and Samuel. They are owners of SMEs, from middle economic background, have vocational degrees (or higher), and are 30-70 years old. We identify that they will be our early adopter, so we want to make sure that we target people that are internet savvy, have business and want to establish franchises, and realize that they need to face law rules.
We know that law is very complicated and usually we need to ask the experts. We identify that their problem is that they don’t get the right answer from just googling or asking friends. They also worry about the budget since they have a limited budget. So basically they want the right answer from experts with a certain budget that they can afford.
In order to achieve the solution, first, they are going to ask friends and google it. Later on, they will find out that lawyer services are not affordable. In the end, we want that they can solve the problem by finding our site, which is umkm.justika.com
From personas that have been mentioned before, we can do design directly. Remember, when we design, we need to think if it is suitable for our personas. Here is our final design:
From the landing page itself, we can see that it is intended for SMEs owners. In the hero section, we insert a picture of an SME owner. We also use icons that are related to business. In order to make sure that our service is reliable so users can trust us, we insert safety assurance details with icons that are related to safety.
From what you can see, our group might not come with our personas based on the process that I have mentioned before. We don't do our research that much. However, what we are trying to emphasize is that our personas are made from user's patterns that will use our application, which we intend that they come from SME owner background. Then, we can create the fictional characters, along with the details. After that, we define their problems, one of them is finding legal service to help them establish business. Lastly, the most important thing, we define persona's scenario, which is how they are trying to solve their problem until they find our solution.
Our experience with Persona
By having personas, it helps us to make decisions on our design. Previously, we want something similar like this for our hero image: We got feedback that it is better if we change the hero image to an image that is friendlier (not a law hammer 😅) and represents the SMEs owner, considering our personas. Finally, we change it to like this: It looks better, right?
Other than that, we also make decisions on how we are going to show our feedback messages, like error or success state. Previously, we nearly used English messages for error messages. Considering that our users are most likely Indonesian, we changed it to Indonesian language. However, it is not an easy task to do translation in Django (technology that we use). If we use built-in translation from Django, it will show Indonesian formal language. In fact, Indonesian now rarely use formal language. Finally, we settled to use Indonesian that we use daily (which mixes with a bit of English). Here are the examples:
Personas are fictional characters that represent your website’s intended users. Usually, we make the characters from observation of the user research. From the research, we can observe patterns and group them into several personas that will represent our search. By having personas, it will make it easier in making decisions on how you will design the websites.