The Need for Formal Standards for Persona Creation

The Need for Formal Standards for Persona Creation
The Need for Formal Standards for Persona Creation

Personas are invaluable tools in content creation that help creators and editors better understand their target audiences. In the business world, personas are valuable tools that help marketers and executives better understand their target customers. In the user experience (UX) design world, personas are invaluable tools that help designers and developers better understand their target users.

Personas are fictional representations of users that encapsulate their characteristics, goals, needs, and behaviors – humanized representations of data form from audiences, customers, or users (ACU). Personas serve as guides or reference points throughout the development process, ensuring that ACU needs and preferences are at the forefront of design decisions. However, despite their importance, the creation of personas lacks standardized practices accepted across the industry.

In this blog post, we’ll explore why the ACU community needs industry-accepted standards for persona creation and draw parallels with standards in other fields.

Standards are pivotal in ensuring consistency, quality, and reliability in various industries. Whether it is the ISO standards in manufacturing or the IEEE standards in the technology field, standards serve as a foundation for best practices and benchmarks. In ACU persona design, the absence of widely accepted standards for persona creation has led to inconsistent and often ineffective personas. This lack of uniformity can hinder collaboration, create confusion, and even impede the design process.

An accepted set of persona creation standards has several benefits. First, standardized persona creation ensures that everyone in a project team uses the same methodology, terminology, and format. This consistency streamlines communication and reduces the chances of misinterpretation. Just as engineers rely on standardized blueprints, ACU designers should have standardized personas to guide their work. Second, comparing and contrasting different ACU segments or projects becomes easier with standardized personas. ACU designers can identify commonalities and differences, helping them make informed design decisions. This evaluation is akin to how financial reports follow Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) to enable meaningful comparisons between companies. Third, developing personas using a standardized process can save time and resources. ACU personas teams don’t have to reinvent the wheel with each project; instead, they build upon established practices. Just as software developers adhere to coding standards to write efficient and maintainable code, ACU persona designers can benefit from persona creation standards for efficiency. Finally, standards can serve as a benchmark for quality. Standards help ensure that personas meet specific criteria and are not merely a collection of assumptions. This benchmarking concept is similar to quality control in manufacturing, where products must meet specific standards to ensure safety and performance.

To underscore the importance of and need for persona creation standards, there are parallels with standards in other fields: In healthcare, Electronic Health Records (EHRs) must adhere to standards like HL7 to ensure interoperability and data accuracy. Similarly, standardized personas would facilitate smoother collaboration between ACU persona designers, researchers, and other stakeholders. Food products have standardized nutrition labels that provide consistent information to consumers. Standardized personas would give a clear and consistent picture of ACU needs and behaviors to inform design decisions. Architects rely on standardized symbols and conventions to precisely create construction plans that contractors can follow. ACU persona designers could similarly benefit from standardized personas that provide a common language for design discussions. Standardized testing in education ensures that students are assessed fairly and objectively. Again, standardized ACU personas can help the end users of personas assess user needs consistently and objectively.

Having worked with and developed personas for some time, the need for industry-accepted standards in persona creation is evident. These persona creation standards would bring consistency, comparability, efficiency, and quality assurance to the practice of those ACU fields that employ personas. By drawing parallels with standards in other areas, you can see how standardization has improved processes and outcomes across various domains.

It’s time for the persona community to come together and, through professional organizations, develop standardized practices for persona creation, ensuring that the resulting design decisions are rooted in a solid understanding of the needs and behaviors of ACU populations. Just as standards have elevated other industries, they can advance the field of persona design, leading to better products, better content, and more satisfied audiences, customers, and users.

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Jansen, B. J., Aldous, K, Salminen, J., Almerekhi, H. and Jung, S.G. (2023). Understanding Audiences, Customers, and Users via Analytics – An Introduction to the Employment of Web, Social, and Other Types of Digital People Data. Springer Nature.