Personas are a tool to help focus discussions on users rather than yourself. Ideally, you do a lot of research first. Yet that is not always possible. How can you create something meaningful, but in a short period of time. Start with good guesses and help from church leadership. Present your findings to your larger team for minor edits. Then start moving forward on your projects!
If you recall, I already wrote one persona article. But after a few years of work experience, I realized that is not how it always happens. You often have to hit the ground running. Then change a few tires while the car is moving. The next articles are a deeper dive into this important user experience tool.
Each of your ministries probably has a well-defined target audience. But having too many personas is as good as having none. I would keep it to one or two. This helps add focus to your church's digital strategy. But what do you pick? I explored this in last week's article on the two groups that matter most to your church. What season your church is in, might influence this. A quick chat with your pastor should reveal what that focus is.
After you sit down and create these personas, you need your first round of validation. That starts with your ministry leaders. Input from all areas are essential. Your "growth market" persona may be a young family. That one persona might care about marriage counseling, children's ministry, local outreach, and traditional Sunday worship. Unless you are a smaller church, that is likely several ministry leaders. Get their input and adjust your information.
After your ministries confirm the personas, it is time to present your final draft. Meet with as wide of a group as possible. You may not think your secretary cares about this. Yet who deals with phone calls more than them? Of course, many will argue they do not like technical stuff. This means getting your story telling skills ready. Create a presentation that walks through the creation process. You are giving this talk to people that were not involved with every step. Then show your personas. These should include a photo, plus all relevant statistics. Tell what that persona's spiritual journey looks like. Then wrap it up with feedback from your audience. Edits and suggestions should be very minor at this point.
The last step is to print your personas as small posters. Hang them throughout your office to remind everyone of your team's focus. This will help during design discussions. They will know you are referencing your persona Jane, when you say "Jane really cares about her son's safety at our vacation Bible school".
If you thought creating personas was too time consuming, think again. You do not need to get it perfect the first time. Yet you need to get your team thinking about users first. Personas are a great tool to do that. Follow the above steps to get this new project started. Next week I will explore how to validate your personas with actual users.
Photo courtesy of Kelly Sanford