Thoughts On Personas – Part 1

Everything and everyone has a personality, especially voice devices. I remember a friend who once told me that he prefers Amazon Alexa over Google Home due to the fact you get to wake Alexa up by using a name rather OK Google. It makes the device a little more human.

We’re emotional beings and tend to bring that association to everything. A great user experience is not about just making usable or functional apps but also about creating an emotion. A great persona in voice is not about just having a pretty voice. It’s also about connecting with the user on the other end. When we hear a voice we unconsciously make a lot of assumptions about that person, don’t we? These assumptions include how intelligent that person might be or which region or country they’re from.

So what’s a persona? Here are some things based on the Voice User Interface book.

A persona or personality can be thought as a character in the voice user interface world, just the same way in a film or book. It is one way a company can brand its service or project though speech.

It is important to pick the persona carefully. I remember running a usability study with a major healthcare brand and hearing comments from participants saying, “That voice sounds too happy. I’m calling to refill a prescription. Why does she sound too happy? ”

One common misunderstanding is you can hire a voice actor with a pleasant voice and that’d be the end of persona creation. If that’s your position then you are in poor position.


Some checklist / guidelines for Personas for voice:

  • The Role
    What’s the role of the application to the user? In other words, is it an assistant that the user is familiar with that gives advice on stock options? Or should the persona be more impersonal or neutral – such as a bank clerk?


  • Company Brand / Image
    The persona that you pick for the system or application should be at least compatible with the brand or company’s image.
  • End User
    A good persona should display as familiar to your target users.  Therefore we need to consider who will be really using it.
  • Target Audience
    For a compelling persona, we need to consider demographics, attitudes, lifestyle of the user. A persona that works well in one culture might not work in other.


Part 2 – I’ll add more later on creating personas. There’s much more.


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