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How proto-personas help UX audits

Proto-personas are a type of persona. They are called ‘proto’ personas because they are based on existing assumptions from organisational stakeholders rather than new research. As a frequently used tool within user experience and marketing, proto-personas create a solid foundation which can be built upon and supplemented further in the future.

What are proto-personas?

A persona is a representation of a typical existing or desired user group, often shown as a fictional (but realistic) individual. While traditional personas might include details like a user’s name, age, and job title, there are also “proto-personas“, which are based on assumptions rather than extensive research. Both types offer a representation of potential or existing users, which facilitates the communication of user needs and design considerations to stakeholders. Proto-personas are a type of persona. They are called ‘proto’ personas because they are based on existing assumptions from organisational stakeholders rather than new research. As a frequently used tool within user experience and marketing, proto-personas create a solid foundation which can be built upon and supplemented further in the future.

The relationship between proto-personas and UX

Proto-personas provide an initial understanding of and insight into potential users of a digital product and influence design decisions that are made during the UX process.

The benefits of using proto-personas in UX audits

Develop an early empathy for potential users

Proto-personas provide a useful initial understanding of potential user segments and, therefore, enable teams to align and develop an early empathy for potential users. Proto-personas, therefore, result in a better understanding of specific user groups as opposed to design decisions based on a broad and generic audience.

Promote a user-centric culture within your organisation

Dedicating time towards proto-personas and utilising them also promotes a user-centric culture and approach to UX within teams, which indicates a high level of UX maturity. They ensure that the design decision-making process considers users’ goals, needs and preferences as they provide a preliminary sense of the kind of features, functionalities and experiences that might resonate with them.

Identify gaps in knowledge regarding your target audience

Proto-personas can also serve as a starting point that evolves over time and can undergo an iteration process that improves the accuracy and representations of users. Therefore, proto-personas are crucial in identifying gaps in knowledge regarding the target audience and help identify potential biases early on.

Steps to implement proto-personas in UX audits

While the proto-personas informed by the audit activities are integral to the UX audit outcome, the proto-personas can also be a gateway to future research. For example, the proto-personas can be used to understand how users might interact or engage with functionality or services in the future. Equally, they have a role in the determination of whether users are interested in new features based on the information contained in the proto-personas.

It is advised as best practice that personas are kept up-to-date and refined as they represent real users’ opinions, behaviours, and challenges that will naturally evolve over time. Book a call today.

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