Personas: Putting a Human Face on Design
As the Government increasingly uses design thinking to drive innovation, agencies should incorporate the development of “Archetypes” or “Personas” into their essential strategies to more closely identify with customers. The Government can collect raw quantitative and qualitative data through techniques such as interviews or surveys. Through Archetypes or Personas, it can then transform that information into a theoretical person whose goals and motivations make any potential solution to be successful.
Traditionally defined as “the image or personality that a person presents to other people”, a Persona in this context is a representation of part of your audience in the form of an imaginary individual. This establishes a reference that – when going through the design process – is reliable and realistic in demonstrating end-user tastes and helps guide further efforts to craft solutions for them.
Personas describe real backgrounds, goals, and values, using themes to condense large amounts of information. The best personas, however, are broad enough to represent a larger population group rather than include the needs of everyone. It is almost impossible to please everyone, so Government leadership should focus on the most relevant user groups instead of every possible audience.
The primary benefit behind the Persona approach is that it promotes a greater sense of empathy. When looking at an actual person rather than an assorted list of features, Government leaders can craft a better narrative around the problem they are attempting to solve. By understanding “why” a user might do something, decision-makers can internalize the user’s experience in a way that a standard report cannot describe.
This enhanced insight, when combined with other Design Thinking practices, leads into the prototyping stage where we test to determine the best viable solution. With customer and stakeholder audiences as wide and varied as they are today, solution creators must understand those they are trying to serve. Personas make it easy for Government leaders to practice empathy to get better mission results.