What are personas & user journeys?

Personas, user journeys and task based design are important elements of user centred design (UCD). A persona is essentially a fictitious user, described in varying amounts of detail (my preference is to keep them light and to the point), created to represent the target or most common user types of a given digital entity (e.g. website or application). The majority of which is ideally based on marketing/demographic data, interviews with client interfacing staff members (and ideally real users themselves), experience from previous projects, and any other relevant insight gained during the earlier stages of the project.

personas with different devices

A key aspect of a persona is the identification of their individual goals/objectives/tasks which allow the usability practitioner to work out the optimum user journey to allow the persona to achieve these goals. This helps drive the formulation of a suitable site map and eventually the features, functionality and content that will be defined in detail within the design documentation such as the user experience specification.

The number of personas developed for a given project depends on the complexity of the project and the amount of information available about a given organizations' user base. I have found that the application of between 2-6 personas is appropriate in most circumstances.

Next steps

See 'UX terminology' navigation (located below if viewing this page on your phone or tablet) for my perspective on other UX terminology.

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Updated: 26 Aug 2015
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