Define your target users
Contributed by

Darpan Sunwar

Spencer Stolworthy

Published September 30, 2019

What Is Proto-Persona?

A proto-persona is a description of the target users and audience of a product based on the assumptions of stakeholders.

Creating this ad-hoc persona allows product teams to begin designing and building immediately without getting overly bogged down with the details of user behavior. Since these personas are developed using the preliminary knowledge and assumptions of stakeholders and team members, the persona should be updated with any new information or analysis gained during the course of the project. (For example, from surveys, usability tests, and user interviews)

Why Do Proto-Persona?

  • Build a shared understanding:

The process of creating a proto-persona helps the team build a common vocabulary to describe the users for whom they are designing and developing software.

  • Help prioritise and drive focus:

Centering development and product design around a proto-persona drives the focus of the team.

A user-centric development approach can save time and money by helping teams to avoid building features their user will not need or want.

  • Avoid a risky knowledge gap:

When the entire product delivery team works together to create and use a proto-persona, the team can avoid the risky knowledge gap that can exist between user researchers and the consumers of that user research.

  • Create an iterative approach:

Consistently updating the proto-persona fosters an iterative approach to development, and can help to create an agile culture by constantly comparing preexisting assumptions to new facts and discoveries.

  • Recruit the correct user type:

By creating a proto-persona, the team will have a better understanding of the users they should recruit for user research and usability testing.

How to do Proto-Persona?

  • Create the persona as a team. Working together to develop the proto-persona builds a shared understanding of the user's needs and helps each team member buy into the persona.

  • Discuss the group of users you have identified through user journey mapping, event storming, talking to the customer support team, and other user research activities. List each of these users on a sticky note and decide as a team which users you will focus on.

  • Give each user a name. This helps humanize them and is part of building a common vocabulary to describe your users.

  • Use a template or sticky notes to list out each user's attributes, goals, and obstacles. Place these attributes next to the user they describe.

  • Finally, stick each user on the wall with their descriptions. As a team, discuss each of the users and their unique circumstances. Agree collectively on the persona whose problems you will aim to solve.

Look at Proto-Persona

Links we love

Check out these great links which can help you dive a little deeper into running the Proto-Persona practice with your team, customers or stakeholders.

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