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At Full Fat Things, we always recommend using ‘personas’ for customer projects. For the uninitiated, this might seem like a lot of bother. So I thought I’d explain what they are, why we use them and how you can get the most out of them.

Why personas are worth it

Before I get started, I’m not going to claim we invented personas. Instead, I’m writing this because I think the concept is brilliant – if used properly.

In any case, the notion of personas has been around way longer than Full Fat Things. According to Wikipedia, the first mention of ‘user personas’ was back in the 1980s. But I suspect people may have been using something similar for even longer.

What I’m more sure about is that the growth in popularity of personas has risen pretty much in parallel with that of the Internet. If you think about it, with ever more goods and services being purchased remotely, it makes sense to have a picture of your customers in mind. But where personas really come into their own is in clarifying that image for everyone in your company and provide enough detail to make sensible, actionable decisions.

How do I create personas for my business?

If there’s one thing I know about personas, it’s that they only help if they contain a lot of detail. If you want to understand the expectations, concerns and motivations of your customers, you need to know far more than just their ages and job titles.

And there’s no point in creating personas if they don’t represent all your customers. That means doing proper research. This could be a mix of interviews, workshops and surveys. You can also use data collected from your existing applications. (We can help with any of this – we’ve done it lots of times, so it may be faster and more cost effective to use us. But if you’d prefer to do it yourself, let us know and we can offer guidance if it helps.)

If all of this sounds excessive, bear in mind that you can use these personas across your organisation and not just for a single project. They should become a cornerstone of your business moving forward, so they’ll provide value for a long time.