User personas depict typical customer profiles. A user persona may include age, gender, occupation, location, relationship status, type of mobile device owned, personality type, and any other features that are relevant for defining customers of mobile apps. It also helps to name user personas so that the team can think of a persona as a real person. Each persona should be based on market research that focuses on identifying specific types of customers who are most likely to use a company’s mobile app. The number of different user personas created and referenced should be manageable. For apps that appeal to a narrow segment of customers, three to five user personas are generally sufficient.
After user personas are defined, developers create user stories for each of the personas. These stories contain an indication of how the personas would use the app, what the personas might seek to do with the app, and the specific features that will enable the personas to effectively perform the tasks that they seek to perform. The objective is to eventually define user requirements by collating all of the user stories.
Mobile content developers use user stories to derive a use case, which is a list of steps that define the interactions between the user and the mobile device. After use cases for all personas are drawn, all use cases are combined in a single diagram to determine the key features that are required in the app.
This method does not determine all features that should be included in an app but only those key features that have been identified as part of the persona and use case development process. There will be a number of features that support the key features and that can be defined during a more detailed planning step undertaken later in the planning process. For example, sharing match results may need the app to be integrated with apps that enable sharing, such as e-mail apps or social media apps. This integration is a supporting feature that can be identified at a later stage.
Utilizing personas and use cases ensures that no key features that are required by the target markets are missed and that such features form the core of the design.