A feature of Agile methodology, the persona is a kind of fictional character, invented to represent a typcial user who will be engaging with the app your team is going to develop.
Agile development consists of a storyboard. This is a collection of short stories, which act as a placeholder for a real conversation. A story must be brief, to encourage interaction; as well as high level so that it can be easily tweaked before any coding begins – a story is never set in stone.
In general stories include three key parts. The first part identifies the relationship of the story’s user to the app. This is usually in the form of a role. The second part gives a bried overview of an action that will be carried out by the user. The final part is the objective of that action.
For example: As a [some role], I want to [some action], so that [some objective]
It is important that a story only ever applies to one user role. If it does not, then the story will require splitting into smaller stories for each concerned role. This is to keep each story isolated to a specific goal. Doing this allows the team to narrow down the priority goals and eliminate or defer any frivolous requirements.
A few examples of user roles might include customer, owner, sales-chat, technical-support, contributor, admin, data-entry, webmaster and so on. Multiple stories refererence each role. To bring a user-role to life and therefore encourage the development team to get a more vivid understanding of the personality and backstory of a typical role of user, personas are created.
A persona really helps bring an app concept to life and better understand it’s end users, before any coding even begins. A persona card can be a physical print-out or hand-made work or a digital version. The most important part of a persona is the photograph of the person along with the name. This allows the team to discuss a user case in terms of their name and doing so conjures up an image of the user from their picture. It is for this reason that it’s important to select an appropriate photo of a man or woman, or child, if the app is for kids. This should not be a photo of a well known personalitty. This only leads to confusion as team members will likely carry across the personality traits of the known person, which most likely have nothing to do with the user-role. Unless, this is an app aimed a film starts, for example. It’s handy to find a picture which reflects the target age and even lifestyle type. Even better, if the image reflects a specific action relevant to the nature of the app. For example, if the team is building a meditation app, the photo might be of a person who visibly needs some relaxation in their life. Perhaps, they are overworked or going through a difficult time in their life.
The persona card should also carry some back story about the character in the form of a brief description. It should also indicate their age, job, lifestyle and any other demographics which help to illustrate their personality. The persona is completed with examples of a few user goals. What they hope to achieve. This will of course correspond with the app that is going to provide the solution to these goals. Lastly, include a couple of key quotes. Something, short but typical of what the person might utter in relation to their goals. A person who needs to relax might have a key quote such as “I feel so stressed all of the time” or “I really need to find a way to chill out”.