Who is our audience? How can we deliver a product that they will want to engage with?
These common questions are often asked by marketers and designers but rarely by companies about to purchase a learning system. So how do marketers and designers know their audience? Simple: They do their research and build user personas.
User PersonasI use a modified version of Tony Zambito’s persona definition: “User personas are research-based archetypal (modeled) representations of who users are, what they are trying to accomplish, and what factors drive their behavior.”
Essentially, a user persona will contain demographical and topical information about the modeled user group. It will allow you to have a point of reference to refer to when building use cases, completing RFPs, and making build decisions.
Each user persona (and I recommend no more than three or four) should be personalized and represent your company’s largest work groups. For example, if you are a retailer, your largest work group may be hourly store associates, followed by individual contributors working at company headquarters, and then hourly store leadership. An additional benefit of the user persona process is that it allows you to table many of the extreme “what if . . .” scenarios that occur during system builds and focus on gaining the largest ROI and adoption for your system implementation.
Building a User PersonaI want to share one of the ways I build user personas for systems and large learning programs.
Demographics. I need demographic information about the organization’s employee group, so my first step is to reach out to the HRIS (human resource information system) team. I ask them to identify the three largest work groups; for example, hourly customer service employees or individual contributor programmers. From there, I ask for the average age, education, and seniority. In addition, I ask for gender.
With that information, I can start building out user personas for a fictional retailer (see table below).
The next step is to humanize the personas. By giving each avatar a name and a face, I can have a concrete idea of who I am sourcing and building for. Many times, as the process goes on, I find people will push back against a feature with, “Would Kat really use that? How would that help her?” This is when you know your user personas are working.
Project need. The next step is to draft questions related to the project. I want to create questions that will generate simple answers that help me determine any boundaries for the user group. If I was preparing to generate an RFP, I would use a set of questions such as:
- How often do they take training?
- What type of training do they take?
- Can they assign themselves training?
- Will they have training assigned to them?
- Will they schedule their own training?
- Will they have training scheduled for them?
- Will training be taken from a mobile device and/or computer?
- Can they login and take training after hours?
These questions and their answers combined with the demographic information will allow me to build out use cases, rank a features list, and have applicable demos for each user persona.
Want to learn more? Join me February 7 at ATD TechKnowledge 2019 for the session, User Personas for Improved Learning System Adoption.