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User Personas in Product Management

In this podcast, Steve Johnson joins us to explain how we can best create and leverage user personas when building products.

Are Personas ruining your product?

Chris Thelwell asks, “do personas create a false sense of security?”. The answer is that they do, but only if you have skipped a significant amount of User Research. Those that do the work, will create a Persona that is an accurate reflection of a typical user or buyer. Those that do not will create at best a weak decision-making tool, and at worst a seriously expensive mistake.

User Persona vs. Buyer Persona

Those building B2B software will be all too aware of the distinction between the user and the buyer of a product. And in most occasions, there will be several types of user (e.g., admins, field staff) and several types of buyers (e.g., managers, executive leadership, IT). So when creating Personas, Maddy Kirsch notes, you must approach the process differently for both.

Personas for Product Management

Marty Cagan states that Product Management is all about choices and that Personas are an apt tool to help you make important decisions. It was Designers who first started employing Personas after the publication of the landmark User Experience book, “The Inmates are Running the Asylum”. But the benefits of Personas soon became clear to others, including Marketers and Product Managers. Amongst their many benefits is the ability to better prioritize and visualize different types of customers and end users. However, there are pitfalls to avoid. For example, make sure you don’t delegate the task and rely on assumptions and stereotypes of your users.

A closer look at Personas: what they are and how they work

Not all companies appreciate the use of Personas and they are seen as a distraction. However, their full potential can be realized if they are used correctly. In this useful in-depth overview of Personas, Shlomo “Mo” Goltz tells the story of their origin and describes what they typically look like. In another article, he describes the process of creating personas from ethnographic research.