Creating user personas forms the base for successful design projects and more so in the case of enterprise software.
Enterprise software is a domain where the stakeholders involved in the design process might not necessarily be the users of the same product or modules.
This often leads to disconnect between the buyer and the users’ expectations from the software.
A great way to counter this is to create effective user personas.
User personas help you correctly identify who your end-users are, their needs and expectations from this piece of enterprise software.
What are user personas?
User personas refer to fictional characters created to represent a user type that might use the site, brand, or product in a similar way.
These are great tools to understand your users’ needs, experiences, behaviors and goals and are thus used widely across Marketing and Design.
While the simplicity of user personas might mislead you into believing that creating user personas is the same for different domains, you couldn’t be further from the truth.
Although the skill set required is more or less the same, you need to be aware of the nuances of each domain when you create personas.
Designing user personas for enterprise software
Designing personas for enterprise software requires a substantially different approach when compared to consumer software products.
This is so because in most cases, the stakeholder that makes the purchase decision might not be the only or the primary user of the product.
The users could belong to different departments of the organization whose goals & motivations are often different, and sometimes contradictory.
User personas help you personalize the onboarding process basis their function. So an accountant doesn’t need to go through the same onboarding process a tech person or a salesperson would.
Given this, here are a few tips for you to create user personas that will truly help you in the process when designing for enterprise software.
But when it comes to enterprise software, it is especially important. As we’ve stated before, the buyer of the product might not necessarily be the user and thus it is key to identify the primary user.
Taking into consideration their job, their duties in the organization, their routines and patterns add value to the persona creation process.
During the user interviews, the enterprise resource planning users often provide contradictory views on what they want. It might be because their wants are influenced by their job insecurities and frustrations. Focusing on what they do and their KPIs help in defining an MVP.
Although change is the only constant, most users are averse to it. This might be because they fear the potential failure for lack of knowledge about the new system. It could also be the insecurity about transparency that the software enforces. When designing something that is going to disrupt the users’ routine it is very important to accommodate these fears when designing user personas.
Your user research should validate the motivations and incentives pre-identified by the organisation. These are usually the core operations that the user is responsible for. A badly designed software could affect the motivation of the user and thus threaten the prospects of earning the incentives.
Identifying the fears and motivations of the user also helps in deciding how much to educate, instruct and inform the user while designing the experience.
Be well aware of the users’ backgrounds, their interdependencies on other users and general functionalities of the organization. This helps serve one of the intended purposes of enterprise software – increase productivity and minimize inefficiency. The first goal for enterprise UX is to help the user carry out her core operations with higher efficiency.
It also helps to limit information overload and the limited exposure to the software helps people feel more comfortable and confident about using it.
There are more ways to think about the personas for enterprise software users. We’ve listed a few important ones that we consider in the UX research projects.
If you would like to see a more practical application of our methods, you can check it out here.