When it comes to app development, it’s difficult to address your users’ needs without having a deep understanding of who they are. Though it’s possible to build the bare bones of an app and tweak it based on feedback, user personas allow you to empathise with your target audience, create a shared direction, and avoid self-referential design, ensuring you’re building a product that will appeal to real users, rather than developing an app for yourself.
What’s more, it cuts the design and development process in half – instead of trial and error, you can build a product for real users with a real appetite for what you have to offer. Below, we’ve put together some advice on researching and building personas to aid in your app development process and implementing them to maximise your chances of success.
Start with research
Forget plucking characteristics out of thin air: good personas start with user research.
Without it, you’ll be guessing: the only way to achieve a real understanding of the people who’ll use your product is to speak to them directly. Research your target demographic (not just friends and family who’ll validate your ideas) and look at their pain points, behaviours, and frustrations.
You don’t need to spend a lot of time or money, but putting in some fieldwork, and relying on third-party research on behaviour and trends, will ensure you don’t create a stereotypical representation of your user. Research helps you identify who they are, and allows you to create products that make a difference. Sure it takes time, but the pay-off is worth it.
Analyse your data
Once you’ve got the data to hand, spend some time identifying your target market’s key characteristics and traits. You can begin to group these behaviours into clusters and before long, clear identities and personas are born.
Unless your app is clear-cut and targeted towards an uber-niche audience, the chances are there will be several personas that come to the fore: you should decide whether to target them all, hone your efforts on a couple, or consolidate them into a more generalised persona to simplify marketing and app development.
Remember that your app doesn’t need to fix every pain point from your target research: the whole point is to get a consensus and create a product for the masses.
Create your personas
Following the collection and analysis of your data, you should create personas so you have a group of target users to look at through the development and testing phase of your new app. Things such as their name, gender, age, and photographs can help bring your vision to life, whilst short descriptions outlining who each user is can also help.
Other descriptors to consider include their experience level using your product or service, their goals, and a short quote or mission statement that explains why they want to use your product and how it’ll help them.
We’ve put together an idea of a user persona to give you some food for thought below.
Hannah, 33, Dundee, Commis Chef. She wants to use your hospitality recruitment app to look for new temporary roles in kitchens across Scotland. In her free time, she loves to travel and owns a campervan. She typically looks for 1-3 month job placements. Earns £34,000/pa
Something worth remembering is that user personas don’t need to be real – they just need to be realistic. If you’ve struggled with primary research but have a clear idea of who you’re trying to target, you can create characters.
Once you’ve got a few, prioritise them: who is most likely to use their app, and who is most valuable to you? You can then create a list of priorities in regards to your app’s functionality and when planning a marketing campaign.
Think about how they’ll use your app
User personas come into their own when you start thinking about how they’re going to interact with your application.
Create a bunch of scenarios that illustrate how a persona would use your app, starting with the marketing and discovery stage before moving onto the primary goal of your app, whether that’s an eCommerce purchase, an in-app purchase, or a functionality unlock that’s behind a paywall or monthly subscription. This helps you map out the core user journeys and understand where each persona might get stuck.
Replicate this to cover four or five key user personas and identify potential challenges, sticking points, and more; this is a vital stage in your app’s research and development process and will make it easier when you start to consider your user interface, product offering, or retention strategy.
Share and discuss your personas
Now that you’ve conducted research, analysed your target audience, created personas, and considered how each will use and interact with your app, it’s time to share them with your app development team and other stakeholders, whether that’s investors, staff members, or existing customers.
It’s important that everyone can see who you’re targeting – and iron out any potential misunderstandings or kinks – before moving forward to the next stage.
With your personas to hand, you’ll be able to think of them and speak of them as real people; they are your end goal and should be integrated throughout every stage of the design process, from the initial app mock-up to the final build.
Embed them into the day-to-day runnings of your business and you’ll create a more focused, productive team that deliver real results.
If you’re considering an app for your business, reach out to the team at Zudu today. We’re award-winning app development experts based in Dundee, and we’d love to discuss your project in more detail. Call us on 01382 690080 and check back on our blog soon for more.