What do we use personas for in UX?
My personal experience with personas have primarily been for testing and conducting expert reviews; used as a method for getting into the head of your users to see the site / app / system from their point of view. All very sensible and useful.
They are also often used during project development.
Typically personas are created by the UX team and photographs that seem to fit with that persona are sourced from a variety of places to use to give these personas an actual human face to attach to. The idea being that these personas and photographs are pinned up on the project walls so that the whole team are aware of them throughout the project, prompting them to get into that frame of mind while producing whatever the project may be.
But who sources these photos? Is the whole project team really invested in these people, the faces of whom have been sourced from various websites?
I’m not so sure.
So what can we do about this?
Well here’s something I’ve been wanting to try for a while, but it would require trying to negotiate a corporate purchase of a massive box of Lego. And somehow I sense this is unlikely.
Here’s the idea:
The personas can be created in the traditional manner – researching users, interviews, studying analytics etc. but when it comes to sourcing the photos I propose taking a different route.
Get the project team together, hand out the personas and stick a large pile of Lego Minifig parts in a bowl in the middle of the room.
Now, get the team to physically build up the personas out of these Lego parts.
I think Brian the professor would have glasses and a beard. Possibly a top hat as well.
No, the top hat should belong to the Managing Director persona. He’s far more sophisticated.
OK, but we get to give the retired musician a beret as it suits her more…
The idea being you’re getting the whole project team invested in these people, and building the character out of elements of their identified personality.
- They can be creative and decide that the art teacher would look better in an Egyptian pharaoh outfit than with an easel, but only because her backstory shows she’s interested in history.
- They can give the student a bicycle because their character is very environmentally-conscious.
- Or they could remove the right-hand of the student because she had an accident that resulted in her being without the use of that arm.
If you have the suitable amount of parts you can then produce replicas of each of these figures, one for each team member. They can then take these figures to their desk, or wherever they sit and have those figures sat on their monitor, watching over them as they work on making a system suitable for all these persona characters.
Now the team will have a vested interest and understanding of these characters as that they were directly involved in studying and creating them.
What have you got to lose? If the worst thing that happens is you spend an afternoon playing with Lego then that’s still a pretty good day.