Recently I've been trying to compile a deck of cards for use across our team as prompts for considerations when testing or creating a product. Not too dis-similar to the Test Sphere deck, but smaller and more targeted to our product. Designed to be used not just for testing but all stages of the SDLC to provoke thinking outside the box and changing your perspective. Then I came to trying to write some personas, trying to list out just the most common that might interact with our product I found that this list was over twice the size of the rest of the deck combined, and that there would be endless categories to each persona.
Taking it back a step the challenge that personas answer, is one of role playing the use of your solution. Could I boil down the characteristics of these personas another way that would allow a smaller set of cards to build a larger set of possibilities? I came to the conclusion that given 3 variables; Role, Circumstance & Motivation, I could build up the picture of a person.
The cards a team might use to describe the most likely components within each category may well change depending on the project. For the purposes of explanation I'll envisage a site that helps social soccer teams co-ordinate the players fees and availability for matches.
Roles may include Player or Captain/Organiser from the customers perspective, but also Referee, Admin or Management when we are considering the company that co-ordinates the competition.
Circumstances surround a person but are often not within their control Solo/Team, Time or Affluence.
Motivations describe the why and what they are seeking. maybe they want to Engagement in the community, or just want a Minimalist low resistance way to share their availability. possibly looking to Manage their event or team.
So, to take a few of these combinations from this set lets see what kind of personas we end up with.
Player + Solo + Engagement
This may be a new person to the community, looking to engage and make new friends. They may be looking for features such as chat rooms, local news and events. Player matching functionality is key to finding them a suitable team.
Admin + Time + Engagement
Here I may see a passionate soccer fan, trying to organise the local league but hasn't much time and needs to fit this into their schedule, the important features need to be easy to find and use. Creating and sharing Blog posts or articles is important to maintain the connection to the community.
Player + Affluence + Minimalist
Maybe here we have a player, wants to spend time with their friends but isn't too bothered about checking out results or engaging with the wider community. They struggle to pay their fees in bulk so possibly pay via instalments would be a good feature option.
As you can see to build out a persona for each person would be a massive task and likely still miss some options. Not all combinations would be relevant or useful but it's easy to draw again.