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General question about developing personas. I work for an organization that provides 6 core services to customers/users. I want to introduce UX research practices to my organization, and want to start by working with our internal departments to develop a set of user personas. Using these personas I want to work on improving our end-to-end customer/user experience through a combination of UX research and design techniques.

Being new to the UX research field, I have a general question about developing personas. Should the personas be made at the highest level? Ie. Should they represent all of our users, across all services? Or should the personas be unique to each service. (Note: We know for fact that the majority(~95%) of users use 3 of our services.)

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    Just an aside - if your personal objective is to introduce user research into your organization and personas are your means to that end, make sure you focus on the research as much as the synthesis. Persona-generation activities often turn into brainstorming sessions about hypothetical people whose characteristics and behaviors are at best informed averages. They're often undertaken as a creative exercise, instead of a research opportunity to get out there and hearing from customers and talking to real people. Doing personas the right way means using them as a way to focus the work on people. – Luke Smith Mar 13 '18 at 16:24
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    This is highly dependant on the nature of the service you're building. You may be able to to take all facets of your service into a single persona (highly unlikely) or you may find that you have several different user types for each of your 6 core services. As you yourself have pointed out, it looks like you'll need a few personas that each cover engagement with bundles of services. – Andrew Martin Mar 15 '18 at 8:30
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I'm writing a persona right now as it just so happens!

What you need to do in the first instance is interview a whole bunch of users to see if the needs they have for particular services differ or there are common needs that do not change between services.

Persona examples I like and use:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/586cd69440f0b60e4c00010b/ad-personas-march-2015.odt https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/understanding-disabilities-and-impairments-user-profiles/ashleigh-partially-sighted-screenreader-user

This will allow you to make the call to develop personas at the service or organisational level.

Final thoughts: personas at very high level will probably align to business needs and not user needs so keep an eye out for that

  • It was helpful, but not exactly what I'm looking for. I want to know if I develop personas at the individual service level or at the organization level. Take for example a .GOV website. Maybe there is an immigration portal and a voting portal. Would you use the same set of personas across the entire .GOV website, or would you develop personas unique to the immigration and the voting portal/services? I would think these portals would have relatively unique set of users with very different goals/attitudes and my feeling is that you would want to develop personas at the service level. – Mark Mar 13 '18 at 14:28
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    you adapt the personas to the area you're researching and they will change because they will have different journeys and user needs. I'll re write answer – colmcq Mar 13 '18 at 14:32
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Personas are developed to give the marketing team, business team, UX and development team a more specific focal point than simply "USER".

If you know that Adam is computer savvy and Bill is tech-phobic then conversations in the team would go: "That's a great idea but I think that the Bills of the world would be confused by the lack of feedback. We need something more than changing the cursor from a pointer to a hand."

Then you wont get side tracked over the validity of material versus skeumorphic design - you'll focus upon whether the Bills of the world will understand this particular UI.

Ideally you will get real profiles from the marketing team.

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    you wouldn't get profiles from marketing they would be from UX surely? But I find persona names very useful to drop into conversations. And really! I've been on a project where we ended up creating fictitious villages, holidays and shops for our personas....fun times – colmcq Mar 13 '18 at 16:02
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    I've worked at places where marketing had personas. Clothing companies, retail companies, eyewear companies, even medical B2B companies have personas of their customers. In many of these cases the marketing team had already built them - or are constantly developing them. – Mayo Mar 13 '18 at 16:20
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    @Mark - No I don't think they're necessarily different. You, as a UX designer, are interested in who is using the system. Straight on marketing produces something like: A gay guy, college graduate, making 6 figures, interested in the latest trends. VS a straight guy who couldn't care less and his wife picks clothes (and his role is reject versus select). But both are urban dwellers, both work in offices, etc... We, as UX people, can work with this as a launching point. Say these are the ONLY two personas - we can estimate that up-to-date font and color selection would matter. continue ... – Mayo Mar 13 '18 at 18:51
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    @Mark - The gay guy who shops would most probably go to the website. The straight guy who comes to the store most probably would never come to the site except to know how to return products. In the real world both marketing and UX teams would like to know more about the wife. – Mayo Mar 13 '18 at 18:52
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    @colmcq - The fashion sites I worked at a few years ago did not have UX folks there. The boutique shop which focused on medical B2B sales had their marketing and UX teams completely intertwined. – Mayo Mar 13 '18 at 18:54

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