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Design with Empathy by Creating User Personas

When designing any product or service for people, it’s essential you keep people at the center of the design.

Personas by Matthew T Rader
Personas by Matthew T Rader

One of the key ways to assure people are at the center of your design process is to create personas. Personas are fictional people based on an amalgam of people in your target user group. You create personas because they remind you who you are creating your product and service for. They need to look and feel and it’s best to use photos of actual people to represent the personas. Do not use photos of people that are well known or that people on the project known, this can become a distraction and create an incorrect bias in the design.

To create your personas it’s best to gather as much data as possible about your target user group. First, you want to segment your target users into groups that make sense for your product, it could be into demographics like age, race, gender, etc, or into other categories like job roles, relationship status, hobbies, etc. Your team must decide what’s best. If possible you can survey and interview people from your target user group and use information from those to humanize your personas more.

During each stage of the design process, you talk about design decisions referencing the personas. For example, if you had a persona named Joseph, you would say, “Joseph is trying to connect with his friends, so he presses this button.” This helps to humanize the users and make sure that empathy is at the center of the design. It’s not a fail-proof method, but it’s extremely helpful and one of the easiest and most basic things you can add to your design process to make sure your designs are successful among your targeted users.

I have made many personas throughout my career. Here is some examples of personas I have created. None of the people are real. I created these personas with Adobe Illustrator.

Personas by Matthew T Rader
Personas by Matthew T Rader
Personas by Matthew T Rader
Personas by Matthew T Rader

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