How Personas Can Help in Product Development

Related Framework BoxBuyer PersonasFocusMarketMarket ProblemsPlanningProduct Roadmap

In a recent Pragmatic Institute webinar, Johnathan Lucky, scrum master at Perform Group, presented How the Elephant and 6 Blind People Can Help Articulate Your Product’s Vision. One of the points he covered is the importance of personas for creating your product, gaining engagement among your team, and adequately solving your customers’ problems. So let’s delve into how to create personas and the impact they can have on your organization.

Listen More than You Talk

There’s an old saying about how humans have two ears and one mouth for a reason. If you’re not listening to the market at least twice as much as you’re spouting about how great your company or products are, you’re missing out. You need to know what people want and who’s going to buy your products before you can create personas.

How do you do that, though?

As Lucky shared, you have to get out of your office. Talking only to people who are already involved in the process, and those whom you currently serve, is likely to skew your results. A lot. Instead, you need to ask a diverse group, which probably includes stakeholders, current customers and the average Joe on the street. You need this information to determine what problems they’re facing and the kinds of solutions that would work best for them.

Get Realistically Creative

When you build personas, you don’t just make up some information about who buys your products. This isn’t Weird Science, where you already have a picture and hope that you’ll create the perfect customer. You start with facts, and then you get a little creative from there.

After your research, where you’ve gathered insight into who your customers are and could be, you’ll have a better sense of where they live, work and play. And then you can build a realistic persona that truly reflects the people who are buying your products.

When you create personas, you want to be sure you include some specifics about these people, such as name, age, marital status, children, income, job, their home (own, rent, size, etc.), and hobbies and interests. You also want a physical image of the personas. For instance, you may choose a picture of a woman in her 30s, and her persona could look like:

Sally Jones is a 35-year-old married mom of two daughters, aged 5 and 7. She and her husband of 10 years, Terry, own their four-bedroom, 2,500 square foot home in the suburbs of Chicago. Sally works as a preschool teacher and Terry is an attorney. Together, they make $600,000 a year. Sally enjoys spending time with her family, cooking foods from scratch and running 20 miles a week. She has a college degree.

In addition, it’s a smart idea to add the problems your personas struggle with so that the team understands how they should focus on solving them.

Why Personas Are Imperative

Having an image with a description brings customers to life. It lets your team know for whom they’re in business. Even more importantly, when you can think of customers as three-dimensional, “real” people, there’s an emotional connection, a desire to do better by them.

Teams are more engaged when they believe they’re working for specific people. It’s easier to solve Joe’s problems than to solve problems for random, faceless people. And by solving Joe’s problems, you’re likely to find more Sams, Charlottes and Charlies whose problems you can solve.

To learn more about personas and how they can help to articulate your product, visit

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