Persona Pros & Cons: How to Develop Personas + Alternatives | Melissa G Kim | Skillshare

Persona Pros & Cons: How to Develop Personas + Alternatives

Melissa G Kim, UX Designer

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9 Lessons (39m)
    • 1. Intro to Personas

    • 2. What: Personas 20 yrs ago & today

    • 3. Why & When: To Use Personas (Pros)

    • 4. 6 Cautions and Cons

    • 5. How: Grounding Personas in Research

    • 6. How: Putting it Together (A Case Study)

    • 7. 7 Persona Alternatives

    • 8. How: Using Personas Effectively

    • 9. Practice


About This Class

Let’s talk about Personas. Why and how do you make them? How can you use them effectively? We’ll go over the strengths & weaknesses of Personas, and also talk about alternative methods that can be used for the same purpose––to strengthen your portfolio or presentation/storytelling skills. 

I highly encourage going through the project, but at the very least, check out the Resources PDF I've included under the "Your Project" section. There, I've included links to the references I've made as additional resources if you want to dive deeper into any of the main points of this course.


1. Intro to Personas: Hello, my name is Melissa. I'm a UX designer in the San Francisco Bay area, and I'm here today to talk to you about personas, what they are, why you want to use them, why you might not want to use them, and how you can implement them in presentations on your portfolio. Persona is a Latin word that means mask, and often referred to a character played by an actor in the past. Today, when we use this word in the UX design research world, we mean a document that outlines typical characteristics of users, consumers or actors that are either target customers or service providers for a product or service. I'll link the full story below, but let's go through a brief history. Imagine it's 1981 and the Xerox Star 8010 workstation has just launched. This is what interfaces looked like, apart from formal interface design. Alan Cooper is credited with creating personas back around 1983. Back then, computers were very small, very slow and weak. Interface design was barely emerging as a profession. Alan walked the golf course play acting a project manager loosely based of someone he conversed with. He imagined how his persona, Kathy would use the software he was building. He successfully sold his program, which later became the model for Microsoft Project. In 1990, he started consulting. In 95 while working with Sage and Technologies, he asked engineers for a specific example of how someone would use their product, but they were only able to express all the ways their product could be used, i.e, a feature list. Alan couldn't just make up a persona. He had to convince these engineers of the needs of their real users. So he asked to meet some half a dozen or so of Sages' customers. From those brief conversations, he identified use trends and develop the first set of three true personas based on research. When he presented his designs from the persona's point of view to the engineers. Finally, the engineers started to understand the importance of the reasoning behind Alan's designs. Sage was incredibly successful and Alan started implementing personas in all his design work. At his company Cooper, it became their secret weapon. But Alan wanted to share his technique with others and published "The Inmates Are Running the Asylum" in 1998. The book was written to illustrate how talented people continuously designed bad software based products and why we need technology to work the way average people think. Basically, he was arguing the importance of user-centered thinking. The 25 pages written on personas became the inspiration for what personas are now, 20 years later. Today they are a widely used tool among design practitioners for synthesizing user research findings and giving a visual expression of a target customer. Usually they take form of a fictional person with a realistic name, face, and personality description to help foster empathy among the team. I'm also going to cover many kinds of personas, the differences between them and how they're used for different purposes, as well as persona alternatives that other designers have come with that may be even more effective. I'll try to use as many real-world examples as I can, and talk about how personas can help you communicate your users needs. No matter where you are in accompany big or small. Whether you're looking to strengthen your portfolio, create better designs or experience for your users, or effectively communicate your users needs to others. You should definitely include personas and persona alternatives in your toolset. See you in class. 2. What: Personas 20 yrs ago & today: What are personas? They are common tools because they help people within a company picture who their user is so they can better design, program or market to them. While personas can in theory be made on the spot, the one rule about personas is that they should be grounded in real data about your users. As documents, personas can be broken up into three main sections: who they are, how they behave, and what they care about. I'll be going through each of these three main sections in greater detail later, but for now, let's do a brief overview with an example. First we have the person. This usually consists of a picture, a name, and their background: educational, personal, professional, or a given title. Educational could be their identity as a current student or it could be the level of education that they've completed. Personal could be related to family, hobbies and professional would be their actual job title. You can also give titles to your personas to differentiate them from each other or you can use a personality matrix like Myers-Briggs, zodiac. The usefulness of these depends on the context of your research or project and the culture of your workplace. You can include a short quote of your persona to capture an aspect of their behavior or emotional journey or you can write a short summary as a too long didn't read section. Second, we have how your persona behaves, their behaviors, general and context-specific. Habits, information sources, where they get their news, updates, what they use their technology for. Sometimes the communication styles or tools are also helpful to know. Does this persona, based on research and the trends in many interviewees, use certain kinds of technology for certain reasons or scenarios? Since we're making this persona in the context of a futuristic vehicle, I'm interested in knowing what content my users interact with when they're commuting. Thus, I've included an entertainment section, but depending on what your project or context is, you might have different sections on your personas. Lastly, we have what your persona cares about: her goals, values, and pain points. There's a slight difference between goals and values. A goal might be to manage time well, but the value behind it is that Michelle wants to spend time with the people she cares about. Goals are what the persona is trying to accomplish but the values are about why it's important. Then there are pain points. What negative experiences Michelle has, how, when and where they happened. If you have responses from interviewees about your product, wishes can also help influence the conception of features. I will go deeper into each of these categories in a later section. But for now, some tips. You don't need every detail for every persona. Some personas will have longer sections. Maybe one user has more pain points than another, and that's fine. Depending on what stage of the project you're in, the details may also look different. I mentioned this before, but let's go back to that entertainment section. If you're making your own persona, you might not necessarily have an entertainment section because it's not relevant to who your persona is, what they do, or what they care about. Since you'll probably have more than one persona, consider creating an additional document that gives a brief overview of all your personas at one glance. 3. Why & When: To Use Personas (Pros): Why and when should you use personas? For startups, personas can help remind you which target audience you are prioritizing as you scale up. For large corporations, personas can be helpful in narrowing down huge data sets made of thousands of users into a few well-crafted representations, personas of who their main users are. For those in service design, personas can help designers focus on the different needs and pinpoints of people providing the service, whether they're the desk worker checking in bags, the flight attendant, or even the workers loading the bags onto the airplane. Personas are useful for simplifying data to understand your users, especially when there are large data sets from your research phase, it's incredibly useful to synthesize that data, find the trends, and create personas to represent types of users you have. This is all to understand users and consumers. At the beginning of a project, your personas might be a bit more vague and true to their values as a person. If you're looking at users reactions to a product, your personas may be more specific to your product, especially for small or medium-sized companies that don't have the capability to analyze large quantities of data the way Netflix or Facebook might be testing. Personas can be a great way to focus design work. Two, empathize with users. Personas were created to ground designers and user-centered principles. The first step to developing personas is to understand and empathize with your users and the best way to do that is to have actual conversations with them. Third, when you've developed a persona, you can use it as an evaluation tool for concepts for users and early brainstorming stages. Many startups end up doing this because it's more profitable and reasonable for them to focus on very specific groups of people to get their business off the ground. Later, they may expand the number of personas or they can stay in their niche. If you already have an established product and you're trying to figure out which features to roll out next, personas can help prioritize features based on users pain points, values, wishes, etc. For a time I was using which is a website that streams YouTube music on repeat. I also downloaded and use their app to avoid paying for YouTube Music. Saving music under an account was available on the website, but it wasn't available on their app. I actually ask the developers why that was because it was really annoying to have a list of songs that I listened to on my phone but when I downloaded the app on my iPad, the same list wouldn't crossover because there was no connection. From what I could understand, the developers just didn't have the bandwidth to work on it. They later deleted their app off the App Store and updated their website. They probably saw that their main audience was on their website and so chose to put their app development on hold. Lastly, like Alan Cooper was finding, it can sometimes be overwhelming if you're trying to design or create for everyone. Persona is help you focus on needs for different users. This way you can tackle individual problems while working towards the big picture of what your product or service offers. Imagine you already have your personas developed, when should you use them? First, unite internal company vision, and second, advocate for users in front of non designers. When Alan Cooper first use personas, he was trying to unite the understanding and vision of engineers, designers, and the managers who were overseeing the project. In a larger company, you'll also find yourself using personas to convince decision-makers and money holders. Think about the purchasing processes companies have to go through. Sometimes personas can be a useful tool to convince your managers and the people with the money and power to fund your projects that there will be a value returned for the company if it invest in this worthwhile cause or design. Oftentimes personas are actually not as helpful as video clips of user feedback or journey maps or use cases, but personas are a foundational part of developing journey mapping and use case documents. You can't explain these documents without telling a story about a user. Lastly, people you're speaking to or scrolling through your website can get an idea of who your user was and thus understand your design decisions. 4. 6 Cautions and Cons: There are some common mistakes that people make when developing personas. It's easy to make a poorly crafted persona and the most common mistake is you make the wrong persona. You create an ideal customer versus a real one. Whether you ignored research that was done or just didn't conduct proper researchers synthesis, this is probably the most common mistake. Just because you do research doesn't mean you understand your user. If you have an incorrect idea of who your persona is or what they care about, it will negatively affect your entire business. Personas are meant to keep you focused and save you time, money and confusion in the future. If you bet on an incorrect persona, your current users pin points will not go away and their wishes won't be fulfilled. That leaves room for a competitor company to come and take them away. You also have to remember that correlation in your datasets is not causation. Prime example, Blockbuster. They thought people loved going to their stores and they were right but they didn't go deeper into why. The research they conducted said that people enjoyed going to their stores so to build up their revenue, they tried to put toys and gadgets near the registers so when kids would walk past the counter, they would beg their parents to buy them one of those stuffed animals. What they didn't realize was the reasons people like going to their store had little to do with the store itself and the service they were offering. Thus, Netflix swept in and took their users because Netflix delivered directly to the users in a more convenient, efficient fashion especially when they started streaming. I should also mention that Blockbusters main source of income was late fees. Once people stopped walking in the stores, it was game over. Second, without a persona, it's very easy to forget what you're making is going to be used by other people with specific goals. But even with a persona you can forget that your persona is an actual person. If you treat your persona's lightly, it will end in a lack of empathy for your customers. They're real people with real lives and they're experiencing real problems and struggles in your website or service and outside in their personal lives. Third, maybe your persona is generic. There's either too many personas or too few. One real customer is not a persona. That's not basing a persona off of research and more persona's don't make you more empathetic. At the end of the day, you have to remember this is a tool to help you focus on improving the experience of as many users as possible so don't base your persona's on friends. This was especially a university problem I noticed. Many projects I saw where based on the design students friends and I could just tell because the weak personas made their project look shallow and uninteresting. Persona's are supposed to help people believe in the problem. If your persona isn't doing that, then you've got a bad persona. Fourth, visual clutter. Don't use full sentences unless you're doing a summary or a quote. Cut down the number of words as much as possible. Simple and concise is best, especially don't include info that isn't relevant to the design or service. Because personas are tools for the design team, it's not usually helpful to put them in a presentation to a VP. If you do, you use it as a talking point to highlight very specific aspects of the persona that are important to the story of the presentation that you're telling. Michelle values this and she struggles with this thus the design team created these features to meet Michelle's needs and here they are. At that point, showing the document is not super necessary. Fifth, if people in the company don't understand the persona's, there's a lack of consistency in the work that's being produced. As you can see in this beautiful graphic by runned, UX is at the collaborative center of tech, business, design and people. It's a beautiful picture but a tough journey to navigate. You'll have to explain what seems like simple obvious information to marketing and engineering who just have different focuses in you so we need to be prepared to defend our users by inviting people to watch user testing sessions, to do brainstorming sessions with us based on persona's et cetera. Sixth, I mentioned this already, but I can't stress this enough. You may have noticed that I didn't include demographics in my earlier persona example. I did that on purpose because we can unintentionally perpetuate stereotypes by the photos and info we choose to put on our persona documents. Indi Young is well-known in the UX research space and a wonderfully thoughtful medium article, which I'll link for you below, she uses this picture as an example. While the info is new and interesting, nobody purchases tickets the way they do or for the same reasons based on their gender or age. As you can see, gender has nothing to do with a why behind these stats, the why is what you should be looking for as a designer, especially when you're choosing photos, you have to be super careful. It breaks my heart, but I did hear from a designer that she had to change the picture of a persona because of Vice-President of her company had an adverse reaction to the picture of a black woman on one of her persona's. The picture was justified by the data results, but the exact could just not wrap his head around the fact that their company was useful to someone who looked like her. Be aware that there may be times you subconsciously assume things about your users. Try to prevent opportunities for racism or sexism to detract from your work. Try using ambiguous icons or illustrations that abstract gender or race. Indi suggests using demographics only as a trick to shock the team into having more empathy. Seeing the demographics, they'll realize their biases and be more aware. Just know that this trick can backfire as you saw in the latest example. 5. How: Grounding Personas in Research: Grounding personas in research. Because personas are representations of users who are the foundation of a product, you have to get it right, which means you have to conduct proper research. It can be difficult in some companies because they don't understand the value of research. Some common excuses and barriers you might find are there's no time, it's not important, we've done research already, we can't advertise private information, it's nondisclosure or there's no money that the company is willing to invest in it. Unless you're a company like Google, Facebook or Lyft, most companies don't yet understand the value and insight their designers or researchers can bring to the table. Managers or executives keep pointing to old studies that they've already paid for or encourage you to just ask the people who work for the business. That can work in some cases. LinkedIn used a tool called Videokits, which is comparable to a take-home interview that's recorded on your phone. The CEO of LinkedIn asked every single employee at LinkedIn to go home and complete this video survey. This worked because LinkedIn's employees are the users of the business. But if your workers are not your users, you're only continuing a cycle where a company is stuck in their own world designing for themselves. It's very sad, but in many large corporations, some design decisions are made because at the final meeting, the VP says their wife doesn't like the color, and so they have to change it even if it was based on research. Now, you have no control over what a VP decides, but you do have control over the quality of your own work. If you have the time and money, sometimes corporations will outsource small companies that will find you testers and users who meet your criteria and conduct their tests off-campus so the testers don't connect the questions or content with the specific corporation. This can ensure that no rumors are spread about what your company is or is not doing and you can also ensure that your testers are not responding to your questions with a bias. Whatever the situation, just be careful you don't overstep your bounds as an employee by accidentally revealing information that would apply under the non-disclosure agreement. For startups and individuals, if you can't conduct a formal study, make do with research you have. Create a short survey and post it on Facebook, Reddit, create graffiti walls, posters with prompts and stickers and markers that people can write on and markup and respond to. Go out and casually talk to people. I find that Lyft and Uber drivers are usually very chatty. When you have your research, especially if it's a large dataset, get ready with your highlighter, Sharpie, and sticky notes. Quantitative and qualitative are all important. What you're looking for are trends in the data. Demographics are usually easiest because they're simple to obtain and they can appear in graphs on survey monkey or user testing. But like I mentioned earlier, you want to be careful about using demographics. Looking at the reasons why people make decisions in a free response quote or fill in the blank is much more time-consuming, but it will all be so worth it. 6. How: Putting it Together (A Case Study): Putting it together. There are a number of tools you can use. The most prominent among them being Adobe Illustrator and Design, Keynote, PowerPoint and Pages. All of these you can export to a PDF or JPEG PNG image. I also recommend trying out online tools like Xtensio, which is free. Xtensio has a persona template ready and waiting for you to put data into it, which can save you the 15 minutes or so of first making the outline and then constantly adjusting the spacing. You can add new sections and even add people to collaborate with you on the persona, although you can probably do it on your own. From what I understand, the only restrictions may be the number of folios or projects you can have at a time. You have to pay for unlimited freedom. The example I'm going to share with you is from my UX design internship at Women Talk Design. I worked with my friend and peer Jennifer, and our project goal was to redesign the Women Talk Design website based on feedback from conference organizers and women speakers. First thing, we had to find these people. We created a short survey for speakers in conference organizers. Thankfully, Christina Wodtke , Indi Young, and many of our mentors were willing to help spread our survey through their Twitter network. We then looked at the results in the spreadsheet and marched the people we thought would be most useful to talk to. We had an initial 15-minute to 30-minute phone call just to double-check. You might wonder why we did that. If you're trying to get as much info as you can from people, you can't hold an informative conversation with a person who only has 15-20 minutes of content. We had one of those. Near the end we were rushing and we didn't do the initial 15-minute, 30-minute check and we ended up having one of those conversations. It was super awkward. But when we did double check, we were rewarded. We had several hour to hour and a half long conversations, even a two hour long one. You don't have to imagine what synthesis looked like because I put a picture right there. You can see it's affinity mapping our notes from our transcripts and audio. It's okay to make a scrappy one first and make a nicer one later. We actually didn't make personas, but I'll show you what that might have looked like. Using the same template I made earlier, I've used a generic illustration of person for the image and name. I could use a more ambiguous illustration, but in this case it actually makes sense. Many conference organizers are white men. That's just a fact. You'll notice some of the bolded sections have changed to fit the occasion. I find when making personas, the title sometimes become more clear as you synthesized, not before. But here's my guess for now and here's a quote, please imagine that there are several other quotes that have similar content, which is why I'm using it as an example here. Please also imagine I've written the underlined parts on the sticky note, affinity mapped those sticky notes, and I'm now putting them on a persona document. From our quotes, we learned that the experience happening here is specific to medium-sized conferences, which are limited by budget, thus limiting the kinds of speakers they have access to. There are no resources at Andy finds to be helpful available online, and this also unfortunately limits the diversity of content and viewpoints. He wants to get a diverse lineup, but Andy doesn't understand why you can be so difficult to get speakers to say yes, even if he's got their contact info. Like this, you keep going until you fill out who your persona is. After we finished all our synthesis, we found we had three personas. Two of them where our primary personas because of the values of Woman Talk Design. We found ourselves organizing for the conference organizer who wants to find women speakers by topic, and we found ourselves also reaching out to support women who want to get into speaking, but are not sure how. You could also consider creating an anti persona, which is a persona that you are not solving for. The reason you might do that is because you're trying to create a contrast between who your user is and who it isn't. 7. 7 Persona Alternatives: We've gone through personas, but you may be wondering if there are other solutions that bypass some of the downsides of using a persona. I've compiled for you a few alternatives. It might be a little confusing, but I'll try to break it all down for you as best as I can. Number 1, just talk to people. I've said it a few times in this video, so I won't go much deeper. The point is if you're in a time crunch or if you're still a student, or even if you're working at a company, what is stopping you from walking outside and talking to your target audience? This is not just for before you do concepting or ideation. This is throughout your whole process. Stop by a coffee shop, insert the subject casually into a conversation with your lift or Uber driver. Chat with people you're standing in line width. You don't always have to use an intro, "Hi, I'm a designer," unless you're a student, people usually like helping students. You can be super casual about it. I know not everyone has the social skills or confidence to do this, but at this point, you're trying to be lean and anyway, it's a great opportunity to build up those social skills. Second is what I'm calling identity expression. Instead of using a literal representation of a person, why not use another identifying object to represent that person? I don't know what to call it, so I can't search for it online and I've only seen it once in practice. I will say this is more of a marketing or branding approach. It's more about the feeling than the person. But I found it to be extremely helpful, especially when I'm trying to avoid involving demographics. A designer from Kate Spade once gave a short lecture to my class about how she uses design in her work. Instead of showing us a persona, she showed us pictures of what a Kate Spade consumer's room looks like. The room became the representative image. I later used pictures of college students' bedrooms for a project done for ACLU NorCal. We were showing the young adults used colorful posters, stickers, badges, pins, and other objects to express who they are and what they care about. If appropriate, you can also use this method when painting the picture of who your user is. Maybe you could also use it alongside personas. Third, empathy maps are quite similar to personas. I've included this template created by Dave Gray, which you can download for free off the Internet. The link is in the resources PDF for this class. As you can see in the center, there's an ambiguous head which doesn't hint at any demographic information, and the section surrounding the head correspond with the part. For example, the SAY section is by the mouth and the thought section is in the head. The two sections inside the head are pains and gains. That's the same as pain points and goals or values. What I like about this map is that it forces you to methodically identify the differences between what users see, say, think, do, and hear. One weakness of empathy maps is the size of the map. If you're using sticky notes, make sure you print or draw this big on the wall. Otherwise, you'll run out of room. Fourth, we have behavioral personas. Why did they add the word behavioral in front of persona? This is a specific term that some service designers use to express that their personas are representative models of the different participants within a service. They've kept the term persona to signify the representation of a particular role within the service ecosystem. Think about large service ecosystems like the one an airline has. There are more people involved than the passengers. There are flight attendants and pilots, there are checking assistants and numerous digital and physical touch points along the way. If you're interested in getting into service design, you may want to remember this term. General UX designers may not recognize the nuance difference, but a service designer might, which can only be a plus if you're applying for a job. Fifth, we have behavioral archetypes. Now it's getting a little confusing, but bear with me. The word persona is singular in Latin. Even though Alan Cooper used personas to capture trends and user behavior of multiple users, each persona was distinct from the others. From what I can tell, behavioral archetypes are what personas should be. Because the original purpose of a persona document has been somewhat lost, there's a feeling or need to distinguish between the qualities of personas. This article I'm quoting from defines personas as only focusing on who the user is by demographics. They then distinguish those from behavioral archetypes as documents reflecting people's motivations, needs, and in effect, behavioral patterns. What's unique about this persona alternative is that users can be categorized as different archetypes depending on the scenario. Someone seeking jobs when recently laid off will behave differently than when they are employed and simply looking for a change. Behavioral archetypes allows the users more realistic flexibility and can create a more nuanced journey map or story. Sixth are thinking style segments coined by Indi Young. Indi is a researcher that has contributed a lot to the UX design research sphere. She's super knowledgeable and I highly recommend checking out her conference talks and books. I'll link some resources for you in the PDF. Here's a quote from her. "When forming thinking styles, you look for unique reasoning, reactions, and guiding principles that some people have in common." In her practice, Indi only uses short online surveys to identify potential interviewees to follow up with in-depth later. She distrusts survey data because it is not an essay expressing a person's own approach rather than conforming to answers someone else made up and are close enough. In this example, she uses in her presentations, Indi is comparing typical personas with her thinking styles. Each persona is actually switching between two thinking styles in different contexts. The flexibility that thinking styles allows is much better than the regular persona because it's true. For example, we act differently traveling alone versus traveling with family or friends. Thinking styles sounds similar to behavioral archetypes. Both acknowledge that behavior will change depending on context. But there are two clear differences. One, behavioral archetypes are used alongside marketing personas to look at brand. Thinking style segments reject most demographic information as irrelevant and are always using pure problem space only. Two, behavioral archetypes can be based on any kind of research, but thinking style segments can't be generated by survey data. They come from very specific, deep kinds of research like listening sessions, or detailed short essays written by users about their thought processes. Lastly, we have marketing personas. This one is a little different from the others. I'm not recommending that you use customer archetypes or marketing persona's, because this is primarily a video about how persona's are used in design. But I want to make the distinction between these two very clear. Otherwise, you'll be confused until you run into the difference in an actual company. At the end of the day, marketing and design may be using the same persona document. However, it all comes down to how they use it. Marketing is primarily interested in how to convince people to buy a product or sign up for a service onboarding. They're oftentimes not communicating what or how the service or product meets your needs day-to-day. Marketing is selling a feeling, that's why companies like Nike pay exorbitant amounts of money to athletes to appear in their commercials. Nike sells that cool factor. I want to be as cool and skilled as those athletes, or at least look as cool as them. But what is it like to browse and purchase off the website, open the shoe box, wash the clothes? This is where designers come in and use personas to justify spending time and money developing the little nuances of the experience to create a holistic, positive, and cool experience. The marketing team will never advertise the micro-interactions on the website, but that doesn't make those design decisions any less important. So you see that personas become effective depending on how you use them. It can be difficult when marketing and design have to work together because marketing wants to own the brand through commercials and ads, but people's response to the actual service or product is what makes a brand what it is. That's what designers constantly focus on, meeting people's needs and expectations. In actual accompanies, no matter how big or small, there can be conflicts between design and marketing if both are not able to understand what the other is focusing on and be united on one vision. But some compromise must be reached for the product, service, or experience to be successful. 8. How: Using Personas Effectively: You're almost done. You've learned how to make personas and why and when to use them. Now, how do you use personas effectively? I've given you a lot of different names for personas. The reason why there are so many different names is because the original idea of what a persona should be and thus their effectiveness has become clouded. It's too easy to make a persona just to check a box or unintentionally make a weak or inaccurate persona, then people made their own terms for what they do. Because the industry is still young, we haven't settled on which terms to use yet. Whether you want to use the alternative personas I've presented or not is up to you. If you say personas, most people still understand what that means. If you make distinctions between personas, some service or design researchers may pick up on the implication that you take your personas seriously. Just remember to ground your personas and research no matter what. If you're trying to strengthen your portfolio or presentation, personas or alternatives can be a great visual way to outline who your users are. With a well-crafted persona, you can tell a compelling story to hiring managers, fellow designers, or even people outside of design to better communicate your users' goals and pain points. In order to communicate the most effective concept or solution, you need to first explain why that solution is needed in the first place. For example, I could tell you that I'm creating a robot duck that needs to have a soft exterior, realistic movements and sensors that react to five buttons with different emoji faces on them. You could say, why does it need to be soft, or why should I care about that? But if I tell you that the persona we're designing for is a child going through cancer treatment who needs an emotional companion to help them cope with their situation, that suddenly changes things. The explanation and logic give meaning to the solution and personas can help convey that meaning so you'll want to start with the persona before you go into how your solution meets your user's needs. When you're putting personas and your portfolio, make sure you also detail where the info in your persona is coming from. Like how many people you heard from, otherwise, people like me will be suspicious. How accurate is your data and how does that affect the effectiveness of your solution? Many people make their portfolios read like a process book. But in general practice, your portfolio should we look a story about your persona. First, you tell me what the story is about. My professor is a speaker at conferences and she noticed that there are always more men on stage than women. She asked conference organizers why that was, and they had many excuses, one being that they didn't know where the women were. In her frustration, Christina created the Women Talk Design website and urged her peers to add themselves to the website, but no conference organizers were using it. I was tasked with finding out how and why conference organizers and speakers make the decisions they do and redesigned the website. Then I would intro my two primary personas that I found through research and talk through how the redesign reflects and solves for the pain points and feedback of those personas. Compare that to the blend, look at my internship. First I did research and then made a persona, then made a solution. The structure of the classic chronological design presentation or portfolio doesn't change. When it does change, it's because you're telling people a story about your users and the content suddenly becomes a lot more compelling. You can start with a hook by telling your audience a story about your persona, what they care about, their pain points, how the system isn't working for them. Or you can use the general presentation outline for your portfolio. When I created my portfolio website, I ordered all the details of my projects similar to the way I did my presentations. Project context, and high-level solution, research and findings lead to personas development of the solution based on personas. I should also state of disclaimer that this is my personal current opinion on how portfolios should be and you are welcome to use whatever order that you think is best. 9. Practice: Personas are not a skill you can include on your resume, but they're extremely important for storytelling purposes. They are a powerful tool because they are grounded in research and findings about real people. That being said, there are a lot of people out there who have differing opinions on the effectiveness of personas. Hopefully, I've provided you with enough information for you to decide for yourself what you think. Most practices begin well, but as they become adopted and adapted, some of the original purpose is lost. Personas are no different. Make sure that when you develop personas or persona alternatives, you strive to represent your users as accurately as possible without assumption in a way that compels your team and people to support your user as best they can. Below this video, you'll find your class project and some links I've left for you in a PDF file. Some of the links are from references I've used in this video, while others will be helpful to you as you work on your class project and grow as a designer. One critique of personas is that people in the design or team at large don't seem to truly empathize with users unless they were involved in the design research phases of actually talking to users or pouring over the transcripts or audio clips searching for insights. Thus, for your class project, I encourage you to prepare to make a persona by starting with research. I've given you a few options based on how much time you've prepared to dedicate. The rest of the instructions are outlined below, but if you have any questions, just contact me, let me know. I'll get back to you.