What you need to know... about learner personas
What are learner personas?
Learner personas are fictional profiles you can create to get a clearer picture of your target audience by picking out their most common characteristics.
For example, How Do I? is a company that aims to deliver practical video-enabled tools to make learning more accessible. To create learner personas that would optimise their marketing or corporate strategies they would need to ask:
· Who wants or needs their product or service?
· What kind of problems can their product or service solve?
Should you use learner personas?
There are two potential problems with learner personas:
1. There’s a risk you may design corporate or marketing strategies for an audience that may not be interested in your product or service
2. You may unintentionally exclude clients who would have been interested in your product or service
It’s very easy to imagine your ideal audience but they may not always be the audience that wants or needs your product.
From an inclusion perspective learner personas can also be risky because they have to be quite detailed and specific. They can include characteristics such as age, gender, socio-economic class, job sector, etc. so if all your learning personas are women or people in their late 20s and early 30s, you may not account for a male audience or older users.
This would not be beneficial to your organisation’s bottom line as ideally you would like your products or services to appeal to the widest possible audience.
However, learner personas can help you cater to your audience’s needs and create better products and services, and maybe help you find a new target audience that hasn’t been catered to by many other organisations. For example, How Do I’s COO Taryl and CPO Tom used their knowledge of learning disabilities to design the How Do I app and make learning more accessible for that audience.
People with learning disabilities may need more time to absorb information so when you scan a How Do I sticker, it will display a video on your phone that will play one section of an instructional video and won’t move onto the next step until the user has tapped the phone’s screen. This allows the person with the learning disability to carry out the instructions at their own pace before moving onto the next task.
Having people with learning disabilities as one of their learner personas helped Tom and Taryl create a unique product that successfully satisfies one of their target audience’s needs and it has the added benefit of solving another target audience’s problems e.g. if you’re a company with high turnover the How Do I app can deliver some of your training needs.
How do you create good learner personas?
· Who are your existing clients and why do they take their business to you?
· How did your clients find you?
· Interview a diverse range of people who may be interested in your product / service and think about how you are going to interview them – what are the best questions to ask to get the most informative answers out of them?
· Avoid making assumptions about what people want or need – do in-depth research
· Ask your employees what kind of clients they think your organisation has or who they commonly deliver customer service to
· Don’t just make a note of the person’s characteristics, note: goals, needs, skills, beliefs, opinions, etc.
· Be prepared to have your perceptions about who your clients are challenged
· Be prepared to change learner personas as your audience changes
Drop us a line on firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about learner personas.
Zeinab Ali - How Do I? Digital Marketing and Project Assistant
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