The "user" is too abstract a description of people who might want to use your new web project. You can not orientate or optimize your project towards an abstract description. You need something better, like Frank, the hasty single father, or Mary, the stressed accountant. User characters allow this exact concretization.
It all starts with the user
When I started programming applications in 1987, my team and I had many discussions about the user. He or she should have been able to use our software at the end. We have not always talked about this fantasy character with much respect, since, even then, we knew that the primary source of computer-related errors is about 30 inches (more like 50 inches today) in front of the screen.
When we talked about the user, we mainly talked about having to teach him to avoid making mistakes and showing him the ropes of the software. The user was a problem that our software had to deal with intelligently.
When we think about the capabilities that software should have and how it should be used, we have always taken it as a starting point. Here, the user was not so important. After all, we were the experts and we knew a lot more than all the people out there.
In this way, the lives of the developers worked quite well for a while.
All that mattered. Back when the rubber boots were made of wood. (Illustration: Pixabay)
Even when we discovered the Web as a new development goal, we did not see a reason to review our idea of u200b u200bthe user. The only change was that we have now received commissions for web attendance directly from inexperienced people themselves. We also benefited from the absence of suppliers of this type of service. Those were real days of gold diggers.
The user gained importance only towards the end of the Nineties. Since then, the significance of this fictitious person has increased continuously, and has even become the main success factor of modern apps. There are few things that are more important than the user's experience.
This applies especially to situations where one and the same problem has at least a dozen different solutions. This is where users no longer stand out from the others for the purpose of the application, but from the approach to the univocal solution. The winner is the one with the simplest app. Even small things, like microinteractions, can be extremely important.
The user is no longer the problem or even the development slippage. Instead, the user has recently turned into the destination.
Users are almost like the Web itself
I state that, in the early years of development for the masses, most of the developers had the same mindset I sketched out above. The big software houses could have been a different story. However, then I was able to work for bigger houses, and I can not say I had a different impression there.
In the mid-1990s, software engineer Alan Cooper developed the concept of user personas, and published it in 1999, in his book "The Inmates is Running the Asylum". Regardless of Cooper, the Ogilvy employee Angus Jenkinson implemented vital elements of the development of user characters in a project for Vodafone, a year before Cooper.
The typical marketing manager? Maybe … (Photo: Pexels)
It was about modifying the orientation of CRM in order to make the work with the system much easier for the marketing manager. Jenkinson invented the character of typical marketing managers, providing a detailed description of the manager's working day with the new system.
Above all, the release of Cooper's book quickly led to gain popularity, allowing it to establish itself in areas other than application development. The concept is also widely used in marketing. Here, buyers are created with a lot of attention to detail.
So, what is a person?
In short, a person is what we called a user. A user is a fictitious archetype of a typical user of the website or app that you want to create.
User Person: the elegant coffee drinker, casual and elegant, with a mobile workplace. (Photo: Pexels)
Before creating an app, you need to define the potential user of the product. Which groups of users seem plausible and how will you use the app?
The advantages of using users' personalities
When creating a person, the goal is to describe the potential user in as much detail as possible. This gives you a personified user, representing a well-defined group of users, that you can almost think of as a placer, who can help you in the following way:
The psychological advantage of a specific definition is that it is easy for the developer to identify with the respective person. This allows them to perceive their desires, their needs and their needs and aims to satisfy them in a targeted way. The developer can look at the project through the eyes of the person.
A specific definition allows a particular focus. Once the requirement profile is found, it is easier to work on it. If there are more characters, they must be prioritized and treated individually. It would not be smart to mix all the demand profiles and lose the differentiation in the process. It is impossible to design for everyone, just as it is impossible to be everyone's treasure. Cooper speaks of "elastic user" in this case, which does not exist.
The person definition introduces the user to the project participants who were not involved in the goal definition.
Orientation decisions in the design process become easier once a clear definition of the user is established.
Last but not least, a good user can also allow a team member to take up that position and use the app or design project as the real person would probably have used it. This is an easy way to conduct user tests without real users.
If this is your user character, you definitely have a sophisticated project. (Source: Pexels)
How can I create a person?
Creating a user can be compared to the process of defining the target group in marketing. The following questions, which should be familiar to business administrators, help you in this:
Who is the ideal user?
What problems do these users find and how do they solve them?
Which goals and needs are important for these users?
Are there any critical demographic factors to consider? (Some examples: users who work with low-income mothers or are usually the first recipients without children? Are they employed or independent? Do they work alone or in groups?)
What reasons do users use your product? What should your product be capable of?
When and where do users use your product? (On the couch in the evening, why it's an entertainment app, or under the pressure of time in the city because it's a "taxi app"? Both scenarios suggest different projects.)
The profile of working mothers will be very different from the other profiles. (Source: Pexels)
At the end of the process, you have a very clear idea of the potential user, the user character. This idea is now divided into a specific character, given that you give a name to yourself, and a function label, such as "Mary, the stressed accountant", and document the resulting achievements. Each person of the user receives some kind of profile, making sure not to lose concentration.
The knowledge acquired on users can now be applied in all phases of the project, from prototyping to the finished product, as a thread of gold in your development.
Sources for further information:
Definition of Personae | AskDefine
A close look at Personas: what they are and how they work | Fabulous magazine
Personas | Usability toolkit
User Personas: what are they and why use them? | DesignLab
(The article was initially written in German for our sister magazine Dr. Web Magazin and was translated to enlighten our English-speaking community here in Noupe.)