User Personas

The goal of User Centered Design (UCD) is to create products that have a high degree of usability, which refers to the end users’ ability to use products effectively, efficiently and with high satisfaction.

UCD is employed to produce the most positive user experience possible. Ideally, actual end users participate throughout the entire software development life-cycle in order to influence product design. This full integration of end users in every design decision is not practical in most cases. As a result of limited involvement of end users, many decisions are made by stakeholders and development teams without their input.

In the absence of end user engagement, development teams often interject on their behalf with assumptions or partial knowledge of people who might use the product. To address this gap, HFE provides data-backed personas. Personas provide a more accurate basis for decision making on behalf of users. The personas effectively become an “empathetic bridge” between software development teams and end users, enabling everyone to make decisions that produce the best user experience possible. As such, development team members should refer to the personas by name whenever they discuss “the users”. Personas are living breathing, characters that work best when they permeate all discussions about the users’ interaction with the product.

Source: Putting VHA Personas to Use in Your Project*

*Link to VA Network may not be accessible to some users.