I looked into User Profiles as I find I can lack grounding when developing them for my design solutions. In Observing the User Experience: A Practitioner’s Guide to User Research Mike Kuniavsky asserts that the user profile is not developed from the view of one person but rather from a mix of perspectives which are taken from various stakeholders in a design project. This seems fitting with the development of a persona as a composite of people rather than a single person. Although access to relevant stakeholders may be limited for student projects a broader approach can be taken to coming up with a persona, such as conducting interviews with fellow students structured around information that would bring out their idea of your persona, either through asking directly or trying to bring out information which may describe a trait of a persona. Kuniavsky recommends asking within your company “Someone in your company has an idea of who your target audience is”.
It is tempting think you know who you’re marketing to when developing a design solution but a broader research approach with a variety of perspectives can provide a more detailed picture of who your user is or possibly reshape it entirely as Kuniacsky states “Everyone will shine a light on a different side of the user. When all these are seen together, the profile will have a richness that will reveal restrictions and opportunities that are difficult to determine otherwise”.
Kuniavsky also recommends developing your user profile before you start developing your product “The concept of your audience should emerge simultaneously with the concept of your product. After all you’re making something for someone, so who’s that someone?”. I believe that focusing more consciously on my user earlier in the design process can give me better foundations from which to develop my solution.
Kuniavsky, Mike 2003 Observing the User Experience: A Practitioner’s Guide to User Research Morgan Kaufmann Publishers