Lightning round: What is a test persona?
What is it?
A test persona is a fictional person that represents a system’s potential users. Also called “user personas” or simply “personas”.
Why do I need it?
By identifying and considering a personas disabilities and needs, you can discover scenarios and problem areas that you never imagined existed.
Where is it used?
Personas are valuable when working with any system that is to be used by users.
Who use it?
Personas are often used by user and customer experience (UX/CX) professionals, but others could gain a lot by considering their system users during development and testing.
When is it relevant?
When you need to come up with a system’s different functional flows or possible problem areas, emphasizing with test personas can be a great help.
How do I make one?
Think about whom the users are, why they use the system, and what problems they can encounter. Condense that information to a nice visual format that can be referred to when you work.
Things that can describe a test persona
There are so many things that can be used to describe a user. Find a good balance between a simple and easy to understand test persona, and a test persona with the necessary depth.
- Personal data: Anything that lets you test that specific user, like customer ID or social security number.
- Scenarios:What would the user typically do in the system? What areas have to work well?
- Disabilities: Are there any challenges for users who are colour blind or partially sighted? Can your app be used by a person with very large fingers? It doesn’t have to be large and life-changing disabilities (Though it would be nice to consider those as well)
- Technological experience: Does your users need specific knowledge within computers or smartphones to use your system? Do your real life users always have that? If you’re thinking “The user would never do that” then you can bet your life savings that someone will.
- Name and personality: If everyone in your project “knows” the persona, it’s easier to discuss problem areas around that persona. In one of my projects, we often talked about “Inga”, a nice elderly lady. Saying “What would Inga do?” helped us see the system in a different light.
You can describe your test personas in a hundred of other ways, like considering needs, demographics, cultural background, environment that the system is used in, and so on. The important thing is to find out what you need, and not add unnecessary details.
Test persona examples
There are hundreds of free templates. Most of them have way too much information to my liking, and are more confusing than helpful. Here are a few examples that I like.