Creating personas that help us understand the users’ needs, experiences, behaviours and goals is a critical step in Pivot’s Informed Design approach. Personas put a human face on what design needs to deliver. But just like humans, personas need to evolve. After all, if there is one thing we can depend on in the world of digital user experience design, it's change.
Technology changes. User behaviour changes. Expectations and needs change. So designers need to adapt to ensure relevance and effectiveness. How they adapt is anchored in evolving personas to reflect change. That’s why it is critical for personas to be dynamic and flexible, adapting to the ever-changing landscape of digital design.
Personas are fictional representations of users, created based on real data and research, to help designers understand the needs, goals, and behaviours of their target audience. These personas guide design decisions, ensuring that the final design meets expectations and provides a seamless and satisfying experience.
The digital landscape is in a state of constant flux. New technologies emerge, consumer preferences shift, and societal trends evolve. To create designs that resonate and are human centered, designers must stay attuned to these changes. This means that personas, which serve as the foundation for design decisions, must also evolve.
While all aspects of what goes into a persona evolve, rapid advancements in technology, how we interact with those advancements and how they change our expectations generally have the most far reaching impact on a persona. For instance, the introduction of AI assisted voice assistants and augmented reality has altered how people interact with digital interfaces. To cater to these evolving technologies, personas need to incorporate these changes.
Consider a persona created a decade ago. They might have been comfortable with desktop applications, but today mobile apps, voice commands, or even virtual reality interfaces dominate. Failing to account for these shifts in behaviour can result in designs that are out of touch with the audience’s reality.
Demographics also play a crucial role in shaping personas. As the demographics of an audience change, so should the personas. For instance, the older generation has become increasingly tech-savvy, while Gen Z have different expectations from Gen X, whose expectations also continue to evolve. A static persona may not accurately represent the end user, leading to design decisions that miss the mark.
User expectations are in a constant state of evolution. What was considered innovative and cutting-edge yesterday may be seen as outdated today. People now expect seamless and intuitive experiences. To meet these expectations, designers must continuously update their personas to reflect this shifting demand.
Personalization has become a key factor in digital design. People expect content and features tailored to their individual preferences and needs. This level of personalization can only be achieved if personas are dynamic and capable of capturing the nuanced preferences of users.
Additionally, the context in which we interact with digital products also varies. A persona that accurately represents a person’s behaviour at work may not accurately reflect their behaviour during leisure time. In addition, the work-from-home phenomenon coming out of the pandemic has further blurred the line between work time and leisure time. Adapting personas to different contexts ensures that the design experience remains relevant and engaging.
It’s a fast moving world getting faster all the time. As such the dependence on static personas no longer works. Designers must recognize that personas are dynamic and flexible, capable of evolving with changes in technology, demographics, expectations, and context. By continuously updating and refining personas, designers can create designs that resonate with their audience, deliver personalized experiences, and remain relevant in the fast-paced digital landscape.
As designers, our ultimate goal is to create designs that provide value to people; that make their life better if only in some small way. To achieve this, we must embrace the idea that personas are not static entities but living representations of our ever-changing audience. By doing so, we can ensure that our designs meet the evolving needs and expectations of the digital world.