3 Ways to Incorporate Personas Into Every Department at your Company

By Rick Damaso

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For User Experience (UX) professionals, and teams who incorporate UX insights into their operations, the benefits of developing behavioral personas are unquestionable. However, in many organizations the value of personas is often lost among teams who don’t regularly utilize this type of primary research. So, how can you help evangelize the value of persona development within your organization and get the buy-in you need from different departments?

You’ll need to remember these 3 ways to incorporate personas into every department at your company:

1. Clarify what personas really are.

Bureaucracy and lack of resources are often the main reasons why managers are unable to secure funding for any project — not just personas.  However, how differently do you think your budget holders would react if you told them artifacts from one type of primary research could be used just as effectively amongst multiple business units? As it turns out, this may be news to many individuals who still view personas as a traditional marketing lense. The first step in incorporating your personas should be educating your stakeholders that marketing segmentation does not equal personas. The main takeaway you should communicate is that personas are an invaluable tool for leaders aiming to build consensus and alignment on their customer’s goals & behavior. With this knowledge in place, conversations shift from product focused to solution-based, thus allowing business unit leaders to create synergies between their departments.

2. Get everyone involved from the onset.

The process of creating personas is, and always should be, highly collaborative. In a scenario where UX professionals are simply handing their colleagues a stack of findings and saying, “here, use this.”, it’s easy to understand why colleagues, who feel like they had no say in the research process, are the most likely question your findings or reject the insights all together. Unlike traditional usability testing, where you are testing how well a design is performing, persona development encourages everyone, from design engineers to customer services reps, to actively participate in the process. As a result of the engagement, stakeholders are able to shape the type of insights you hope to glean and are more likely to apply insights within their department.

3. Tangible takeaways.

As UX professionals, we are are responsible for delivering actionable user feedback in a way that can be leveraged by multiple stakeholders — often with different goals.  For example, a design engineer and a sales manager will have very different motivations for incorporating research related to users in their roles. The sales team may be seeking to evaluate the difference in purchasing triggers by user groups, while a design engineer may be evaluating the most functional design for a primary user. A persona can be perfectly suited to address these multiple requests because of their basis in behavioral evaluation. 

Combining the objective learnings from a quantitative study and the richness of detail from qualitative insights means that you are maximizing the utility of your research dollars in one research engagement.  By creating assets with multiple applications, you can champion your efforts by providing focus and clarity to multiple stakeholders.

Recap

R&D, Web/Content Strategy, Product Design, Sales, and even Customer Service efforts can be significantly bolstered when you have unanimity on customers needs & wants. Personas are perfectly suited for this because, by definition, they are a collective assessment of customer behaviors, framed in the context of your organization. However, incorporating these personas can be difficult if your colleagues seem unconvinced of their utility.

If you find yourself having this conversation with your colleagues, always consider:

  • Clarify what personas are. Professionals who have not been exposed to UX may not identify with what these assets really are. Get the conversation started by asking them what their perception of personas are and then show them an example of one — feel free to use this one. I guarantee a few of your stakeholders will be surprised to see the difference.
  • Get everyone involved from the onset. Unlike your more common summative testing, where you are measuring things like success or time on task, personas can provide your team latitude before, during, and after data collection. This makes te process much more integrated and encourages input from all different business units.
  • Provide tangible takeaways. It’s human nature for us to ask, what’s in it for me? So don’t blame your colleagues for not immediately valuing the UX work you are doing. To frame it in the right context, consider addressing a focused research question that you know stakeholders would love to answer, and personas can deliver on. 

 

For any and all related research questions, feel free to reach out to us at Key Lime Interactive. We love talking UX!

 

 READ MORE: Incorporating a UX Strategy Into Your Business, Our Researchers Can Join Your Team, Whats Your Excuse for Not Testing Your User Experience?, 3 Tips to Get Leadership to Value UX Using Business Outcomes

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