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Are user personas part of your design approach?

Yep, we’re persona-driven.

How many user personas do you have?

Three: User, Manager, and Administrator.

Besides data access, what makes them different to the application?

They have different roles and titles.

Do they have separate jobs or tasks to perform? Different targeted outcomes?

Yes. They do.

Do they go through the same user experience?



Beware of Multiple Persona Disorder

riemer_funnel“Multiple Persona Disorder” occurs when you force all user personas through a single user experience even if they have different requirements.

There’s a good chance it’s always been done that way for your product. Enterprise software users are typically provisioned based on role, meaning that each role logs in, accesses and interacts with the application in the same way. Role-based access (RBAC) defines the data each sees but the experience is the same.

Conflicts with the spirit of a user persona, doesn’t it?

Personas’ requirements are broader than a typical role in an application; the implications go well beyond data access. When you crowbar all the roles through a single UX, the result is usually a bloated, complex experience. Adoption follows usability downward.

Attributes of a User Persona

Let’s take a step back to recall the basics of what goes into a user persona:

Demographics are personal traits like age range, gender, education, and native language.

Psychographics are the personality traits that influence behavior and choices such as motivations, values, attitudes, and job aspirations.

Technographics are the hardware and software tools used and their level of technical sophistication


Outcomes are the end results achieved and value created by performing a job.

Value Chains are the informational relationships people rely on to get their job done. How the sharing of information with others impacts job performance and decision making is an important dimension for a user persona.

Success Metrics are the quantitative measures a given job is evaluated on to determine its value.

The more types of users your product must accommodate, the more significant the differences you’re likely to find across these dimensions. As different user personas add up for your product, funneling them all through a single user experience should feel more and more suspect.

Breaking Down User Persona Attributes

For this example, we’ll use a service application with two roles: Field Service Rep and Supervisor.

The field service reps travel to customer locations and performs inspections on the assets customers have purchased. If issues arise, the field service rep’s job is to fix them. The Field Service Reps’ success metrics are productivity and efficiency-related. Supervisors care about this too, with account retention and gross margin also being critical to them.

(The desired outcome for the customer by the way, is well-maintained assets. Their key value drives are increasing asset uptime and reducing total cost of ownership.)

Here’s what simple personas for the two might look like:

riemer both personas

Translating User Persona Attributes into UX Requirements

Many product teams get to this part intact: they understand the needs and goals of different personas. Unfortunately, they then collapse all of those nuances and differences they’ve uncovered into a single user experience differentiated only by data access and maybe some feature visibility — not a dedicated experience.

The attributes of each persona should influence the context of their UX interactions. They should also be part of your customer journey mapping.

Here’s how we might translate our personas above into different UX contexts:

user persona


Prevent Multiple Persona Disorder from Taking Hold in Your Product

Whatever you call it, MPD is a major issue in enterprise applications. Forcing too many different user personas through a single user experience inevtiably adds complexity and hinders adoption.

Each persona has a job to do. Make it easy for each persona to achieve their desired outcomes by using persona attributes to create an experience that fits them. By simplifying their interaction with your application, you set them up for greater higher adoption and engagement.

Michael Riemer is a successful business executive with 30+ years of building things (companies, teams, products, markets, programs and relationships). He has a track record of delivering valuable customer outcomes and shareholder value including launching 20+ products, 5 awarded patents and 3 exits. Connect with him on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter.

Sharpen your personas with a UserMuse reserch panel – CLICK HERE to get started!