The Content Strategy PDX Meetup is back in action, everyone.

It had been a while since the group got together. I think the last time was for the Ann Rockley event back in 2012.

Last night, the crew got together over at ISITE Design to talk about user personas. The discussion panel consisted of:

  • Isaac Szymanczyk, Senior Communications Strategist at Nike
  • Ben Lloyd, President of Amplify Interactive
  • Katherine Gray, Content Strategist at Babcock+Jenkins
  • Robin Stevens, User Experience Lead at Experience Lab.
  • Bryan Finke, Global Marketing Strategist at Yesmail

The panelists discussed their definitions of personas and how they use them to inform design decisions from web development to brand work, internal to global communications. By the end of the session, and after extensive Q&A by the crowd, the persona definition sounded a little something like:

"A fictional person of a user group or segment defined by goals, expectations, psychographics, and humanizing characteristics. It's a method to describe a target audience or group in order to inform key communication design decisions."

Even though these personas aren’t real people, they represent our users and audiences, giving organizations an idea of whom they serve and wish to connect with. This is well worth the research dollars during the discovery phase of any communications or content-related project.

I personally recommend it to be a main part of any discovery/alignment phase of your content strategy methodology, if it isn’t already.

Memorable nuggets of truth from our panelists included:

Bryan Finke: Personas will often identify key objectives of a user group or segment, a point of view of that group, and grant a more contextual idea of the audience in order for communicators to design experiences to influence behavior or better connect.

Isaac Szymanczyk: Personas humanize user experience: they’re not people with pockets filled with money. It’s an exercise that allows communicators to learn much more about their audiences and what they aspire to be and do.

Robin Stevens: Persona research isn’t a push-button solution. It’s a part of a larger methodology to fully realize a communications solution. This methodology doesn’t have to be an expensive research session. You can DIY your way to success and insights.

Ben Lloyd: User personas will always be a moving target– it takes research and resources to continue to know who you’re trying to be in the shoes of.

Katherine Gray: There’s no wrong way to create a persona, as long as it’s assisting in better understanding a particular user group and informing effective communications solutions. A brand manager will see a user persona much differently than a user experience specialist.

Did you miss out? There's more!

It was great to hear that the CSPDX crew has some more events for the quarter.

Up next is an event featuring Karen McGrane and her book, Content Strategy for Mobile, on May 23rd. You can snag a copy of her book over at A Book Apart. I know I’ll be reading my copy to get ready for that talk.

Hope to see you all there!