Learnosity is a white-labelled, set of embeddable API’s that cover the authoring, delivering, capturing and reporting on student responses for online assessments. With 14.8M monthly users, powering the world's leading learning platforms and publishers.
Learnosity clients are all around the world and in a variety of industries, roles, and business structures. It is also a white-labelled, B2B product, adding another level of complexity. As product teams, trying to design and develop product experiences, it helps to have a shared understanding and language around our users. A helpful tool for doing this is personas. But personas can fail if they don’t get used or are not understood by product team members. With the help of a colleague and multiple feedback sessions, especially with our internal support and sales teams, we were able to create usable, fun, and clear persona “cards” as we call them to help any Learnosity employee understand or communicate about our clients and users in a shared way.
For this project, me and a colleague, were tasked with finalizing an initial set of personas for the company. I really wanted to come up with a version of personas that could:
- Be used by all team members
- Help new team members get an overview of who our customers are
- Be a conversation starter and bring our customer in the room for product developement conversations
- Reflect the variety of customers we have
I proposed an idea to take the more in-depth user personas that we were using in design and come up with a branded set of persona “cards” that took the most meaningful and digestible parts of the full format personas and condensed each of them into a two-sided card. The card could also be posted in a Confluence page for easy access across the globe.
Additionally I proposed that we create what we call variable trait cards that can be paired with the personas to make a complete picture of a potential user. For example we have a few author persona cards and we found from our user research that there were patterns across them. Some subject matter expert (SME) authors were tech-savvy, meaning they were comfortable using a computer and troubleshooting, while other SME authors were non-technical and tend to give up and ask for help when having technical issues. The format was kind of like an RPG game where you could mix and match to make sure you are considering everyone needed for a particular product or feature.
There was also an opportunity for me to create the different illustrations for the various cards. It was really fun having the chance to come up with a diverse range of illustrated people, reflecting our real user base, and come up with illustrations to get a concept across for the variable trait cards.
Personas based on real information
My colleague and I wanted to build out the rest of the persona cards with anonymized information, like quotes and characteristics, from the user research we had done over the last year. We had just recently started a UX research repository using Airtable and made sure to tag anything we found meaningful with a persona tag so we could come back to it later. We found that the real information proved more effective when different team members went to use the cards.
Talk to the people who know
After we had put together what research we had into draft cards we wanted to do some feedback sessions with our colleagues. What better team to work with than the customer support team. We organized a few sessions with up to 5 people where we started by having the group brainstorm some of the user types they could think of. It was promising as there was a lot of overlap so we knew we were on the right track. The feedback from the support team led to over 50 improvement tasks for the initial 8 cards.
Getting the persona cards into the workflow
Once we had our first set of cards ready for use we organized a few presentations and artifacts for different stakeholders to improve visibility of the project. One presentation was customized for directors that focussed on the organizational impact the shared language around our customers could have, one brown bag presentation with more practical uses for the product team members, and with support from the business operations team we were able to get the cards in the company wiki space alongside our company mission, values, and product value proposition.
Iterate and improve
We wanted to see how much uptake the persona cards got over a period of time before we created more for the project. We set a 3-month timeline where we tracked when we were able to use them or noticed our colleagues using them or the language that went along with them, such as “power author” or the personas names. Towards the end of the 3-months we also sent out a short survey to see if people were able to use them, knew where they could find them, and what their impression of them was.
The results were better than expected but we definitely saw some areas for improvement. From the survey some respondents not in the product teams were unsure how they could use them and that prompted us to consider what problems they might be having that the persona cards could help with or if there are other tools that might be more helpful. We also learned that new starters were able to find the persona cards organically and said that they helped them understand who our customers were quickly and some of the information they learned was unexpected.
Learnings and reflections
The process of developing these cards gave me confidence in personas as a tool and that all areas of the business have a desire to know who our customers are all the way from Sales through to Customer Success. I also saw how much the cards improved once we got input from colleagues who worked with them everyday.