Designing for a Persona

Persona is a name given to a certain set of behavior patterns. Suppose a 60 year old man and a 25 year old man arrive at the city bus station. This is the first time they both have come here and are thus equally lost. They both consult the enquiry, and then the bus driver. They both behave in the same way in that particular situation. Let us call this behavior “the lost One”. Here emerges a persona.  And see what happened. The age of the person or the background of each did not play any role in our data collection. Suppose we had to design a signage system for “the lost one”, all those who came in this category would be benefited. I push myself to say that a visually challenged persona and an abled person who arrives at this city station for the first time behave in the same way. Personas don’t depend on demographics.

Now if we were designing a product, the general notion is to design for “the General public”. Designs  for the general public is no design at all as to start with there does not exist a general public. There are  certain exceptions to this which need to be understood with care eg. Google. The entire public does not behave in the same way and will thus not use the product in the same way as the other.

Demographics such as age and economic conditions don’t play an important role when designing a product. Call it the audience, call it a Persona, it’s the behavior that is taken into consideration while designing a product.

Now If the research is structured, one will get structured answers. Data thus gathered can be well analyzed  and one can be certain that this happened and this did not happen at the scene. Gathering a moderate number of data points puts the researcher in such a place that one can be certain that if there are no cases in the data points  then it may probably not exist unless it’s a very special case.eg  If a bomb blasts at the observation field the situation has changed and thus the behavior changes. Once data points have been gathered, patterns emerged. Our main aim was to find out how people gathered information, where they looked, was it  the platform signage or the timetable or the conductor, ask the co passengers etc. We were able to understand a certain behavior. We categorized these behaviors and thus emerged a persona. If questioned about the personas, we have data to prove it. We have numbers to prove how who behaved. Next we moved into the designers shoes. Looking at the way these personas are we were able to see the problems they faced there and found design solutions in them. Our solutions dealt with finding how to lessen the time taken for a specific persona to reach his bus.

User research, I have thus learnt, is very important when it comes to designing a product.  Better the research, more effective the product.

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