For your business to strive and become the market leader in the industry/sector in which it exists it is important that its product development and marketing strategies emanate from a deep understanding of your target customer. Your ability to put yourself in the shoes of your customer, to understand their challenges, needs, wants, aspirations, work and home environments, in fact, every aspect of their lives will drive your success. Being able to think and behave like your customers is the key to being able to communicate with them effectively.

Therefore, as you develop your marketing plan, user personas are one tool you’ll certainly want to have available to you and your team as you gather user research and find design solutions to solve problems and create more human-friendly products and experiences. You might be asking yourself…… What are user personas?
User personas are created profiles of imagined individuals that reflect a business’ core customer base. Although you are creating this person and a lot may be guesswork the key part is that it should be educated guesswork. The educated guesswork must be combined with real user data and finally, a name is put to the potential user of your product/service thus…bringing them to life.
This person will represent a group of users who share similar characteristics and goals. These goals are the ones that guide the best design patterns for your product/service to provide the best user experience. Ultimately, user personas turn “the user” into an actual person you can get to know and conceptualise and this enables you to meet their needs better and solve any problems you think they might face. All of this together helps you and your team keep focused on your project, product, or service while keeping the customer in mind.
Why create them

Many research or design teams may dread the process of creating user personas because they require a certain level of detail, and resources, and in worst-case scenarios you may get entangled in them hence, it’s important to try and not add your own opinions. However, what should be kept at the back of your mind is that:
Creating user personas helps you keep your whole team aligned with the design process. Personas are the go-to documents that ensure that every design decision is aligned with the intended user and serve as reminders to designers that they should stick with their target audience.
Personas help you internalize the ideal customer you’re trying to attract. They help you relate to your prospects as real humans engage with a product in the expected or desired way.
They help with strategizing and making smart design decisions. They make real users memorable for the product team, helping to focus efforts and build empathy.
User personas ensure that the company initiatives such as marketing are done with the user very firmly in mind.
Creating a user persona adds real substance to your value proposition especially when you want to achieve more investor buy-in in addition to getting approval from managers and CEOs.
Therefore, to many businesses user personas are like a North Star that guides them in making the right choices as they start, grow, and promote their business. Depending on the size of your business, you could create one to two persona or even 5 but what is crucial is understanding that the potential users of a product/service have different needs and expectations and your homework is figuring out how you can cater to them through the functionality of the product/service.

In Conclusion,
When you know who the users and customers of your product are and why they would want to use the product then it becomes a stepping stone to writing great user stories. These user stories will help articulate what value a product feature can bring and you will have a better understanding of why users want a certain functionality. Therefore, the user personas used in writing user stories will keep your team focused and motivated whilst giving them the flexibility to build a useful product for the customers.

Written by: Zinzile Mhlanga