Developing User Personas to Drive Adoption of New Technology Solutions

To get the most value from a new technology solution, you need your workers to start using it as soon as it is deployed. Regardless of the number of new features or the improved performance a new solution provides, it is worthless if no one is using it. “Who will use the solution and how will they use it?” are the fundamental questions that need to be answered to accelerate user adoption and ensure your users will get the most from any new technology solution. Creating user personas can help ascertain who the target audience is and developing user journey maps can reveal how the technology will be used to accomplish their day-to-day tasks. User personas and user journey maps foster a user-centric approach, which leads to better user experiences and faster adoption of your new solution.

Creating User Personas

A user persona is a detailed description of a prototypical user based on an amalgam of common characteristics, behaviors, and traits of users across your organization. They provide a realistic representation of your key user groups and enable a better understanding of your users’ motivation, goals, and capabilities. They help you develop empathy and compassion for the workers who will ultimately rely on the technology once it has been deployed. Using personas to evaluate your workforce can help you discover the optimal way to introduce a new technology solution and tailor user training to drive high adoption rates.

Basic Elements of a User Persona

Key pieces of information that you should incorporate into each of your personas include:

  • Fictional Name: Giving your persona a name will make it feel more like a real person. Select a memorable name but avoid using generic names such as Jane Doe or Mike the Manager.
  • Job Title: The title should describe the personas role and level within your organization
  • Major Responsibilities: List the responsibilities your organization expects from an employee in this position. Include the roles, tasks, and activities required of the position.
  • How Existing Technology is Used Today: If the new technology is replacing an existing solution, itemize the tasks users perform today with the existing technology solution and how they use the existing technology to perform them.
  • Goals for the New Technology Solution: Identify the tasks users expect to perform with the new solution, along with the skills and knowledge required to perform those tasks well.
  • Perceived Barriers to Adoption: Reservations users have about the new technology solution and the challenges they envision that might prevent them from adopting the new technology right away.

By focusing on the roles, responsibilities, and challenges your workers face, you can develop compelling personas that can be used to refine your adoption strategies and ensure your users will appreciate the value of the new solution.

Define User Groups

If your organization expects different types of workers to use the new technology you are rolling out, you should categorize your workforce into groups with similar responsibilities, performing similar tasks. Define at least one, but no more than four personas for each of your user groups. For example, you may have salespeople, engineers, and managers. You could create a persona named Juan to represent the sales team, a persona named Maya to represent engineering, and a persona named Nina to represent management. These personas will help you gain a specific and consistent awareness of each target group of users within your organization.

Collect Data

There are a variety of data collection methods you can use to construct a snapshot of your typical users. Don’t rely on just one data collection method, use as many as time and budget allow to ensure the personas you create accurately capture your users’ behaviors, assumptions, and expectations.

Data collection methods include:

  • Interviews: Get valuable insight into your users straight from the horse’s mouth. In-depth interviews not only provide context into users’ thoughts and motivations, they often provide opportunities for follow-up questions that probe deeper into underlying factors. As your interview process unfolds, you should start noticing patterns that emerge and should be included in the personas you create.
  • Surveys: Surveys and questionnaires don’t generally go as deep as an interview can; however, they can easily reach a broader audience. While they may not deliver the same qualitative results as an interview, surveys can provide quantitative results that have statistical significance.
  • Day in the Life: Shadowing workers offers a unique opportunity to get a firsthand look at the tasks they perform and the methods they use to perform those tasks. Day in the life job shadowing enables you to observe and absorb user challenges and pain points.
  • Review IT Support Requests: Analyze the history of support cases and calls to help desk dealing with your existing solutions. Incorporate feedback from support engineers on common problems users are experiencing and recurring issues they deal with into your persona.

The data collection process can also help with the overall user adoption effort by sending a message to stakeholders that their opinion matters, and they are a critical component of the new technology roll-out.

Analyze the Data and Build the Personas

Consolidate and organize the data you collected into the persona groups you defined. Scrutinize the data for common themes, characteristics, and patterns across each of the groups. Create a template that contains all the basic elements outlined above to ensure your personas are consistent and complete. Develop appropriate descriptions for each of the personas, including their goals, challenges, and typical daily activities. Include enough information for the reader to understand the motivations, expectations, and frustrations of the target persona, but keep your write-ups concise and succinct. Validate rough drafts of your personas with coworkers who match the profile you developed and use their feedback to refine and polish your work.

Mapping User Journeys

Once you have completed your personas, you should map out anticipated scenarios (user journey maps) for using the new technology solution. User journey maps enable you to visualize the interactions and touch-points your users will have with the new solution from their point of view. They help you uncover potential gaps and pain points, assess their impact, and address them before they can hinder or delay user adoption. Having a visual representation of expected user experiences can help you determine whether additional training will be required, or changes should be made to the solution before it is deployed.

Conclusion

Creating personas will help you build empathy for your users, and provide clarity around their motivation, goals, pain points, and desired outcomes. Personas are extremely useful for uncovering the diverse ways your users will interact with new technology and what will motivate them to adopt new solutions. They also provide you with valuable feedback from your users that can be incorporated into your communications, training, and education strategies for user adoption.

Learn how user personas drive adoption success.

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