A proto-persona is an initial version of a fictional character used to represent a type of user or customer based on available data and stakeholders' assumptions and insights. It includes demographic information, behaviour patterns, goals, and possible pain points. Proto-personas are a starting point in research that aims to give a basic understanding of a target audience to the product design and development team.
Proto-personas help designers and marketers empathise with users and customers. This leads to better decisions about the product's features and functionalities and marketing materials' messaging and targeting. It also helps team members align their efforts as they share the same image and understanding of the user.
The benefits of creating a proto-persona are also visible in the results. Designers create products that meet the specific needs of different users, improving the user experience. Tailoring marketing messages to particular kinds of customers means reaching and engaging more effectively with different target audiences, increasing revenue and conversions.
A useful proto-persona is based on available data. Use the knowledge you have of the market and target audience as well as insights from other stakeholders. Make your persona as specific and detailed as possible and include demographic information, behaviour patterns, and goals. Have everyone on your team involved in creating the proto-persona to create a common starting point for everyone.
It's crucial not to create a one-size-fits-all proto-persona, as different products or services have different types of users. Each of them should have its own proto-persona.
Last but not least, don't forget to update your proto-persona and turn it into a persona. As you learn more about your users and gather more data, ensure that the representation of your users reflects the fluctuations in information.
Proto-personas are a great basis for every digital product project. They will help your team start in the same place when understanding your target audience.