Image by Matthiew Henry and Samantha Hurley on Burst
Participants: R&D teams
Personas are fictitious characters that represent different user groups and are usually derived from interviews with real people. To obtain a comprehensive picture of the various user groups and their needs, the initial sample for the interviews should be as heterogeneous as possible. Ideally, the personas represent the entire spectrum of (potential) user groups.
As a method for diversification, it has proven fruitful to develop several alternative personas with different demographic characteristics for each key user need. In this way, you can avoid reproducing stereotypes by deliberately combining characteristics that deviate from widespread stereotypes (e.g., regarding certain diversity and occupational groups). In doing so, the personas should of course remain within a realistic framework and also take into account the overlapping of diversity characteristics: for example, a persona may belong to a minority with regard to individual characteristics and to the majority in terms of other characteristics.
Representing the needs of different user groups with the help of personas is an inherent part of many UX design processes. However, when creating personas, homogeneously composed teams can tend to produce relatively one-sided personas by primarily assuming the needs of their user group or by incorporating stereotypical ideas when thinking of an “average person”.
The diversification of personas specifically counteracts such – mostly unconscious – limitations of many user groups. This helps to identify blind spots at an early stage, to cover user needs as holistically as possible, and thus to enable innovation. The initial extra effort will save valuable time later in the development process, prototypes based on diverse personas have a greater chance of success, and the resulting products are more likely to appeal to a broader audience.