Here’s Why And How To Use Design Personas For Your App

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appstoreiconIf your App were a person, who would it be? Would it be cheerful and playful, making everyday life fun? Or would it be serious and suited up, much like a trustworthy business partner with tons of experience?

Meet the design persona: the practice of describing a product or service using human traits. It helps designers and marketers alike convey more personality through visual design, copy and interactions. It’s fairly recent and web designers instantly fell in love with it – but it can also become an extremely useful tool for App developers, too.

Why should you come up with a design persona for your App?

They’re Great For Planning Your App’s Interface Design

To start with, it’s much easier to find the appropriate color scheme, visual effects, and interface elements for your App when you understand its character traits.

This helps you create the right associations and stimulate the right emotions in the user’s mind, so that he or she finds the App likeable, intuitive and engaging. That’s the reason why Apps targeted for women use bright and feminine colors such as pink and purple – whereas Apps aimed for men often go for navy and grayish, darker colors in their color schemes.

See how big brands use color psychology to communicate a more powerful message:

Big Brands Using Color
Big Brands Using Color

To learn more about the kinds of emotions that different colors provoke in a person’s subconscious mind, read this introductory article on color psychology. In case you’ve already chosen an adequate main color for your App, use a tool like Kuler to find more matches for your new color scheme.

Give Clues To Popularize Your App

Design personas are also important for improving your App’s marketing. The optimal tone of voice for your website and promotional campaigns becomes clearer when you know what kind of personality you want your App to convey.

Apps for business users should employ a semi-formal, professional style of copy in their product descriptions. This isn’t the case for Apps targeting teens, who need to use words like ‘cool’, ‘fun’, ‘awesome’ so as to attract and emotionally engage new users.

Here’s an illustration on how the tone of voice can affect the emotions of your App’s audience – and, therefore, have a positive or negative impact on your marketing and promotional materials. It shows a study on two shampoo ads in China – but the effects can be just the same in the mobile ecosystem.

Shampoo Ads

To see which tone of voice you’re currently using in your App’s promotional materials, start using ToneCheck. To learn more about defining the tone of voice for your App, read this how to guide.

So far, so good. Design personas can help you create an emotionally engaging App with the help of predefined character traits, color psychology and visual interface design – but they can also boost your marketing activities by hinting the proper tone of voice for your App’s promos and ads.

How to come up with a descriptive and informative design persona for an App? We have gathered three rock-solid tips to guide you through this process:

1. Pick A Personality Image

Think about a famous person, a mascot or somebody that you know really well who represents the traits you want your App to convey. Describe them in full detail. This is an important step, because makes your App’s personality image less abstract and brings clarity into its new design persona.


For example, the popular email marketing platform MailChimp has created its own mascot, called Freddie Von Chimpenheimer IV. Freddie always has a smile that welcomes users and makes them feel comfortable and at home. The cartoon style lets people know that MailChimp offers a fun, informal experience – which makes it easier to use and more attractive than similar services.

2. List Main Personality Traits For Your App

Come up with about five traits that you want to convey to your users using interface design, copy and marketing materials. Spend as much time as necessary with this step, because the list will be your guideline on how to engage users emotionally and make your app more attractive visually.

Here are some examples for an App, targeted for teens:

• Sexy, but not alienating
• Cool, but not arrogant
• Fun, but not goofy

Guided by the personality traits of your App, designers can create an according visual language and style for the interface elements – while marketers can push out better visuals and copy for promoting your app, using words, phrases and style targeted towards your audience.

3. Come Up With Engagement Methods

Last comes your list of engagement methods, which help you communicate the design persona of your App. Describe (in detail) the kinds of emotional engagement you might use in your App’s interface and its promotional materials – taking its new personality traits in consideration.

Here’s an example: Imagine you’ve just built a dating App. Its main background is light grey, text is black, and buttons are red. Since this color scheme isn’t emotionally engaging enough, you picked a brighter color scheme – light blue for backgrounds, dark gray for text, orange for buttons.

Because your design persona is ‘awesome’ and illustrates a smiling, energetic young person who’s always in a good mood, your current engagement methods need changes. So you come up with better copy for your App’s buttons:

• You replace ‘View Profile’ with ‘Check out’
• You replace ‘Wink’ (which enables users to hint to others that they like them) with ‘Rawrrr’

Gradually, with the help of your design persona, you will have built one truly engaging, unique, and different app that users will simply love.

Now you have everything you need to create a design persona for an App. Look through the examples, check the additional articles we’ve linked to throughout the text and you’ll be ready to create a whole new visual and communicational philosophy for your App – making it fantastic on the way.

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