Movie Character Persona: Food for Thought

Reading Time: 2 mins approx.

Author: Tinu Alexander John

Imagine you are in the process of creating an application for the general masses and your budget lets you conduct little to no research on your target audiences. Under normal circumstances we would list out the goals and pain points we think our target groups go through and at the end of all this create a few personas for the primary groups.

Then create a ‘stock image’ persona named John Smith or Jane Smith which would have all the goals and pain points jammed in.

The problem with John and Jane is that they are least relatable to us and the product we are building. We need to know our personas well enough for us to answer questions like: ‘Are we doing right by John and Jane when introducing a feature?’, ’ Will they like those changes?’, ’ Will they like our application?‘. Keeping John and Jane happy is the key factor that determines the success of the product.

So how can we create relatable personas? We are in search of fictional characters that relate to our applications context of use and belong in the target user group, what better place to look than movies. They are full of fictional characters in every walk of life.

With the movie character persona the scene is already set, we know what their personalities, motivations are and a little bit of their background. All we have to do is align the character to our application and Voila! Everybody understands the persona and can make better decisions to satisfy our target users (That’s harder than you think).

Think of an application that lets housewives and house dads (wake up people, this is the 21st century) sell homemade goodies. So rather than starting from scratch for a persona when we have done no user research, we could start with ‘Shashi’ the character played by the beautiful Sridevi in English Vinglish. She makes ladoos and delivers them home. For the application, she would represent the focal group, people who sell homemade goodies but not online. So how do we get Shashi to sell ladoos through our application? These are the questions our personas help us probe during the design phase.

Movie character persona idea started from a video by VOX on Homer Simpson. Homer during the last 27 seasons have had 191 jobs and gone through almost every possible scenarios you could think of. Then came the idea that Homer Simpson is the best middle-aged American persona for many business use cases. If you like the idea and have better examples of movie character persona feel free to drop them below. Until then, peace.

Tribute to Sridevi who has been stealing hearts since the 70s and many more generations to come. You have made life on earth a bit more bearable! Rest in peace!

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