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How Personality Frameworks Can Help You Understand Your App Users

Laura MacPherson October 11, 2018

A product’s performance in the marketplace depends on how well it meets the needs and desires of the target audience. This fact seems obvious, but it too often gets lost in the excitement of building a new product. It’s easy to get caught up in building what YOU would like in an app. But unless you fall within your target audience, designing for yourself is a mistake. You need to start by gaining an understanding of the people who will be using your app.

It’s sometimes difficult for startups to build out their target audience personas thoroughly. Demographic information is typically simple to identify — typical age range, gender, household income, etc. But it’s the psychographic information that will really help you tailor your app to your audience. What drives them, and what energizes them? What do they fear, and what annoys them? How do they like to operate? This psychographic information is often challenging to uncover. Personality frameworks (like Myers-Briggs and the Enneagram) can help you understand your app users and gain valuable insight that you can use to improve your app. Let’s look at how we can use them.

Are Personality Frameworks Reliable?

Let’s first address the elephant in the room. The majority of personality frameworks aren’t scientific, including Myers-Briggs. You can sometimes get different results when you take the test twice (or multiple times), even within a short time period. But the lack of scientific validity doesn’t impact the usefulness of personality frameworks as a way to better understand how people think and act.

Personality Frameworks Offer Insights to Understand Your App Users

No matter which personality framework you choose to use for your target persona evaluation, it will provide you with important insights into your audience’s thoughts and behaviors.

Personality frameworks can tell you whether your users will be eager to adopt new technology or hesitant. Whether they will be satisfied with online interaction or want to bring it offline as well. If they easily build new habits or have difficulty with routines. Whether they like surprise or predictability. If they like to operate in an organized way or free-flowing. Whether they prefer to be in exciting environments or calming ones. If they crave community and being part of a team or like independence and functioning individually. And this only scratches the surface.

How Can You Find Out Your Target Persona’s Personality Profile?

Now, asking a statistically-significant sample of people in your target market to take a personality test probably isn’t part of your marketing budget. But there are ways to make educated guesses about the personalities of your audience members.

  1. First, the nature of your app may provide insights. For example, is your app designed for people who enjoy being part of a team but struggle to organize their lives and have difficulting creating new habits? Consider the personality types who share these characteristics and look for other markers that they may exhibit. Can you narrow the likelihood down to one or two probable types?
  2. Look at the correlation between personality and career choice. Often, an individual’s personality will align with particular careers. For example, in the Myers-Briggs framework, ISTJs are problem-solvers who typically choose careers laden with facts, numbers, and data — like accounting and engineering. You can look at the demographic information you know about your audience’s careers and, from there, deduce which personality types they’re likely to have.

How to Use Personality Profiles to Build a Better Product

After you’ve narrowed down the possibilities to a couple of likely personality profiles, look at the other traits these profiles tend to have so you can fill in knowledge gaps. This insight will help you make choices like how to structure reward systems, how integral to make the social aspect of your app, and even color schemes and design choices.

The better you know your audience, the more likely it is that your app will attract your target audience and resonate with them. It’s worth investing the time upfront to learn this information, so you can avoid unnecessary redesign later on.

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