Android App User Persona: How To Incooperate It Into App Development
After publishing the step-by-step guide to android app marketing I found some things that need to be explained more in-depth but wouldn’t directly fit into the already long guide. So I will now explain some things further in separate posts, today starting with the app user persona.
This Guide is useful to any kind of mobile app developers, but I think it is especially important to Android app developers that want to get the most out of there app as the android app market is the most popular but also most competitive app market as shown here.
When you start your journey of mobile app development and also during your app marketing, you should always have your potential user base in mind.
This can be useful when you think about specific features, design and also future updates.
This makes the idea of an app user persona one of the most important strategies you need to focus on.
It is valuable for your UX work and will make or break your apps success story.
The User Persona Principle has also one major factor that can help you develop and market your app faster and more successful: your full development and design team can keep the user persona and especially the factors that your ideal app user will love in mind as they develop and design the app.
With this in mind, the app directly suited to potential users you want for your app and thus make your app more likely to succeed in the app stores.
Especially mobile app development for non-games can benefit from user personas, you will just have to create a more in-depth analysis to make them as useful as they can be.
For user and costumer-focussed business, there are several types of personas that can be used.
For user experience designers, there are two specific types of persona, that can be useful, the proto-persona and the user persona.
https://www.interaction-design.org defines it as:
- The Proto-Persona – is a persona created when there’s no resource available to carry out research on users. They’re based on whatever research can be gleaned from other sources and the best-estimate of who the team is working for. The proto-persona isn’t as useful as the user person but it is better than nothing at all.
- The User-Persona – this is the most common persona for a UX designer to be working with; it’s a simple story of the user’s goals, behaviors and pain points. The user-persona is created through user research.
The key takeaway from both persona types is, that they are based around storytelling of the what and why people do something and the focus on the app that this specific persona wants and needs.
They are created to be used as a guideline for the user experience that should be created within the app.
But what does define a good app user persona?
What is a Good App User Persona?
An app user persona should help with:
- the elucidation of your research observations
- focussing on the present problems, so that you don’t spend unnecessary time for solving problems that might occur in the future
- being realistic about your potential user base and not over-idealizing desires and potential behaviors that you want
- setting the groundwork for the design task of the user experience team
Furthermore, it should be helpful to solve the following questions about the app user(s) themselves more completely:
- In which content will the app be used?
- What behavior does the user show at the moment of app usage?
- What is the overall attitude of the app user in general?
- What does the user need and want from the app that you are currently developing?
- Which difficulties does the user want to overcome in the situation that the app is being used?
- Which objectives does the user maybe have?
Author/Copyright holder: Florence Herrou. Copyright terms and license: CC BY 4.0
Now that we know how a good app user persona should be like, how do you actually create it?
How Do You Create an App User Persona?
User personas are researched heavily since 1993, so you can expect a great number of ways to create user personas but a simple process would be to:
- Find a large enough group of potential users for a test run and either interview them or observe them while and after they used the app
- Analyze their behaviors for patterns, actions, responses, etc. and group together people that display specific behavior patterns
- Use the groups you created to create stereotypes of people that show the behavior you want
- This can be for example a good buying profile for in-app purchases, a good social media sharing behavior or simply a good usage time of apps
- Use the data to determine the stereotype to build the app user persona but exclude details of context, behavior, need, etc. to make it universally useful
- Share the user personas line out with your team and ask for feedback and if necessary change the user persona based on your team’s experience
A quick way can be to use the template for user persona here.
Now that we have a foundation of how to create the app user persona, let’s think about how we can use user personas in UX Design
The Benefits of App User Personas in UX Design
The benefit of app user personas is quite easy to understand.
If used correctly, the user persona can help the team to focus on the user experience and on a specific outcome.
This will also help the team to focus on the user behavior and the outcome of the usage of your app.
With this in mind, one major problem will automatically be solved as the design will not be focussed around what the specific developer, team or leader thinks is a great design but truly focus on what brings the most success: the user.
So, how can you use app user personas in your UX Design?
How are Personas Used in App UX Design?
The main focus of the app user persona is to make every decision in the design process and every effort by your team with the user in mind.
Missing this, you can still create the greatest app of all time, but if you have no users that want to use it, is it really the best app?
If you use scenarios in your app development, you can use the user persona to give more context to the scenario and make it more relevant and realistic.
This will give you a whole new approach during the creation and planning process as you do not focus on what you think the app might be used for but actually focus on how your users will use the app.
Author/Copyright holder: Questionable Methods. Copyright terms and license: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
It is common and best practice for app designers and product designers, in general, to combine scenarios with user personas to create not only great products and apps but also useful and effective apps.
The user persona is naturally not the end all be all to great app design, but it is such a useful concept that you really should incorporate it into your design process.
Focusing on the potential app user base rather then what you want for yourself really can make your app more successful.
There are 4 major 4 key uses of the persona in mobile app design:
- Personas should be used to validate (or not) the decisions made by the design team. E.g. “is that what the user really needs?”
- Personas are used to develop priorities when ideas conflict for resources or time
- Personas should be available during ideation sessions to act as both a source of inspiration and to keep things grounded and focused on the user
- Personas should be referenced when critiquing ideas or iterations of the product
How Does Mobile Differ from Traditional Use of User Personas?
In reality, the process for creating a mobile user persona is the same as the process for creating any other user persona.
However, the context in which the user will be accessing the app or website plays a much more critical role in mobile UX.
Your research needs, whenever possible, to be an observation based and conducted “in the wild” to ascertain how users really behave.
Interviews may not be the best way to determine what people actually do (in fact, interviews often reveal large discrepancies between what people say they do and what they actually do).
If your users are accessing your product “on the fly” as they move around; their needs from the product are going to be very different from a product which is only accessed on the desktop at their desk in their office.
Author/Copyright holder: Petar Milošević. Copyright terms and license: CC BY-SA 3.0
User personas, in conjunction with user scenarios, are a highly effective tool for UX designers.
They enable the project team to focus on the user’s requirements and needs and for everyone to understand the eventually expected outcomes of any design project.
They are based on user-research though a proto-persona can be used if such research is out of budget or there is no time to conduct it.
User personas are best delivered as a story to help people better connect with and remember the user’s needs.
When it comes to mobile UX – the context of use becomes a critical part of the persona.
A base template for user personas can be found here, however, it’s a good idea to update the template for mobile design before you begin using it – https://creativecompanion.wordpress.com/2011/05/05/the-persona-core-poster/
Smashing Magazine examines the effectiveness of the user persona here and offers some additional ideas for persona creation: http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2014/08/a-closer-look-at-personas-part-1/
Wikipedia offers a detailed look at the history of the user persona here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persona_%28user_experience%29
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