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User Personas inspired by Storytelling Principles

User Personas have remained a common denominator to the ever changing world of technology products. While the memorable fictional characters from Film, TV and Games like Forest Gump, Don Draper or Angry Birds are not the type of fictional characters we need for User Personas, a quick look at the Storytelling principles can help design Personas better. 
Product Example 
A mobile App that provides Wireless Network Configuration for Small Businesses. The SMB Owner can add multiple SSIDs/WLANs and access points, create a Guest Welcome Page and check network health at a glance. 
Considering a few storytelling principles for this App, before designing the actual persona.
The Audience
Storytelling Context Films, TV Shows and Games belong to genres and receive appropriate certifications - because the audience they cater to are different across several parameters. Even besides the 'formal' categories and genres, we watch movies or TV shows based on our taste. The Audience and their likes and dislikes define the aptness of any product.
UX context Apps have their own specific audience. In this case, the product is geared towards SMB owners who have less technical skills and are looking for an easy-to-use setup for their WiFi Network. While forming the Information Architecture, we may need to get rid of any extra bells and whistles - or keep the Advanced Settings nested under a separate mode if needed.
Character's Response to Conflict
Storytelling Context A good story is mostly around a conflict and how the various characters deal with it. For any superhero movie - two people accidentally acquire super-powers, one decides to use them for the common good and becomes our beloved hero - the other has a sad backstory that crosses him over to the dark side and now he's a villain. 
UX context How will the user respond to a conflict? If the SMB owner needs to setup WiFi at his Business, but he has no advanced technical skills, will he be frustrated? Or is he a problem solver who can Google and figure out advanced settings? As we think about it, our User seems the person who'd rather have an additional tool to manage these settings, than to educate himself and delve deeper into technical details. 
Moving Broad to Specific
Storytelling Context  A good story establishes the premise and then invites us into the details of the characters lives. In the movie 'The Little Mermaid', we see the Ocean, several merfolk, a musical performance, and then the absence of one of the singers which turns out to be Arial. We ease into the story. A broad scenario that leads to a specific situation.
UX context the App too needs to move from broad to specific. We welcome the user first, offer an overview of what the app can do, setup a login and then offer specific settings like Content Rating, Session Timeout, Bandwidth Limit and so on.
Pace of the Story
Storytelling Context Observe any popular Game, how their story and the overall play is paced. A game about Car Racing is obviously paced fast, and has fewer settings and controls to worry about. A Simulation Game like Farmville offers a lot of time to nurture and grow the Game's Universe - so the pacing is fairly slow. There is more room for details.
UX context This app is for an SMB owner who has less time on his hand for too many settings. His primary focus is his business, so the App must be fast-paced to make the setup process easy and quick.
Storytelling Context It is often the most simple characters in a story that steal our hearts, because of the complex backgrounds that make them who they are. Minions, for instance, appear like a simple yellow blob - but are a complex breed of creatures who have their own language, skills, personalities and a common love for Gelato.
UX context Although the WiFi Config App needs to appear simple and easy to operate, it must also allow the user to tackle several complex ideas like Security Settings (WPA-PSK or WPA2/PSK), Content Rating, Special Offers, Online Ordering or integrating Social Media. 

A feel for the Character

Keeping all above points in mind, we can quickly write a description to get a feel for the User Persona.  
"Bob is a friendly 58 year old Owner of ‘Bay Barista’ Café in Downtown San Francisco. He sells the best coffee in Nob Hill Area, along with a wide range of cookies. He also has a small Gift Shop connected to his Café, and a medium-sized backyard for occasional events. He isn’t very proficient with computers, yet wishes to provide his tech-savvy guests with Wi-Fi service, just like the Froyo place next door.  It was embarrassing to answer quite a few guests on multiple occasions, that if they needed Wi-Fi they should probably sit on the left side of the Café, where the Froyo Wi-Fi might catch on. He tried to setup a Wi-Fi network initially, but having to depend on the service provider for every little change made his experience frustrating. He is looking for a simple and easy to use solution to setup and manage a Wi-Fi Network that works well for his Café, Gift Shop and Event Area. His daughter visits him during winter break and helps him update his tech skills."

User Persona at a Glance

After this understanding of the storytelling, designing the traditional User Persona 'page' becomes much easier. The Archetype, Quote, Brand Interaction, Demographics etc - all seem familiar enough to describe. 
This article was also published on Linkedin Pulse