How User Personas make our software even betterFeb 02, 2016
It's true, usability has become a commodity. Consumers are spoiled with outstanding user experiences of websites and mobile apps such as Facebook, YouTube and Amazon. It is easy to understand that in their professional life, those consumers will demand the same standards for the business software they use.
At Scriptura Engage, we are convinced that the usability of our software will determine our success. Although our solutions are often praised for their usability, some time ago we decided to go a step further. As such, we now start applying the user-centered design practice of User Personas.
Business Software & UX
Business software legs behind if it comes to user experience. This is caused by a number of factors:
- business software has a more complex objective,
- business software is customized,
- business software is installed on-premises, making usage statistics hard to collect,
- business software replacement is costly,
- the user is in most cases not the buyer,
- the user is harder to find.
Although some of those factors are valid reasons why it is hard to improve usability, it should be no excuse to ignore the usability aspect of business software. There are many ways to work on usability. At Scriptura Engage we recently started with the creation of User Personas as part of an initiative to bring the software closer to our users.
For those not familiar with user-centric product design, User Personas are fictional characters that represent the different user types that use your product in more or less the same way. As an illustration: for the design of communications in Scriptura Engage we have defined 4 personas that include information about the skills, tasks and needs of the represented users. One of them, Jason, is included as an example.
The exercise of defining those personas is interesting and gives you insights in how users are actually using your software. But the real benefits of personas lie in their usage in product development.
Defining and publishing user personas is not a once-off exercise, but a new way of thinking. This way, you show the whole organization that you want to put the user in the center.
User personas, in combination with user stories (descriptions of functionality in terms of the type of user, what they want and why they want it in a non-technical manner) makes that marketing, sales, analysts, developers and designers can communicate efficiently about features and their targeted users.
Personas put a face on the otherwise abstract user, making it easier for a designer and developer to empathize with and think like the user, resulting in functionalities that a type of user really needs.
When you see the world from your user’s perspective determining what is useful and what is not becomes a lot easier. Personas help us to define who the software is being created for and also who not to focus on. Having a clear target is important.
Usability in business software gets more and more attention as users are demanding the same experience as the websites and mobile apps they use (in their personal life). It is not a shame that developers don’t always know what is best for the user. User personas are created with the purpose to represent the real users and can provide answers and direction.
Call to Action
To define the User Personas, our UX experts (coached by a consultant of Studio Dott, an all-round creative and design firm) have conducted (and are still conducting) a number of interviews with our users. We are currently in the process of defining User Personas for the management, integration and administration of Scriptura Engage.
If you believe you have valuable input, do let me know!