Friday, September 10, 2010

Lean Startup Customer Development And IxD Personas

On Quora Steve Blank asked "Is it possible to use Lean Startup customer development findings to inform IxD personas?" This post is my response to Steve on Quora:

Absolutely yes.

Pivoting is not just about finding the right business model that works for a start-up but it is also about nailing down the persona that you are designing your product for. I have seen many start-up fail because they don't know who the end user is. Creating a persona is an iterative process by itself. Many people focus on persona as a final artifact but I believe that the journey is more important than the destination. While discovering a persona and iterate on it to make it crisp, the team - the dev, marketing, and UX - comes together with the shared understanding of the target end user. The journey brings in the empathy that they all internalize and that influences what they do. The journey includes getting out of the office and talk to the real people who you think would use your product.

Persona requires qualitative discovery as well as validation. It's an instantiation of your customer. The customer discovery, validation, and creation are all directly related to the persona. In fact I would argue that in many cases knowing the target audience, at a given stage, is far more important than having a perfect product. Plenty of people fixate on building the right product against building it for the right people.

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