By Sethulakshmi V . December 8, 2021
A guide to creating the perfect user persona
Knowing your users and their wants is key to developing products that will provide them with the best user experience. The user research that is done during the UX design process is crucial. This is where user personas come into the picture.
Know more about user personas and find the ideal user personas for your app or website.
What is a User Persona?
A user persona is a representation of the target audience of a product or service.
They are developed from the data collected during the user research phase. You look for patterns in the collected data which could be overlapped. Personas are created from this overlapping information.
These personas represent users whose goals and characteristics resonate with the needs of a larger group of users. Persona representations include behavioral patterns, goals, motivations, skills, attitudes, and background information. Using personas, a design that serves real users can be created.
Why User Personas?
- Personas can guide you to understand the motivations and needs of your potential users. This knowledge can be used to predict the expectations and future actions of your users.
- Through user personas, a common goal or vision can be communicated throughout your organization. Communications regarding user experience, information architecture, messaging, branding etc will find a common ground as creating imaginary users can help to focus on the same goals.
- Personas will also give directions about the tone of language, messages, imagery that your users would resonate with.
How to create user personas.
If you want to base your persona on real data, first you should gather information about your target audience. Personas built on imaginary data will be unreliable in most cases as you will not be able to come up with solutions the real users need.
- Talk to 5 of your potential users, to understand their needs and expectations.
- Utilize the information you have already gained from your previous experiences with users to make accurate assumptions about future requirements.
- Quantitative data collected through web analytics can be used to analyse the actions of the users even though the reason behind it still stays hidden.
The research should also tell you which channels are majorly used by your target audience as the same channels can be used to reach them.
Understanding and segmenting users
It is important to sort the research participant groups according to their behavior. Similar attributes which represent different behaviors of the users when they complete a task, achieve goals, etc should be identified and categorized together.
Based on these categories you can create different user personas for the project.
Decide on a layout
The layouts of the persona differ according to the persona type and purpose.
Certain websites provide ready-to-use or pre-filled templates. You may choose from these according to your need. They also allow you to add new sections to these prevailing templates.
Once the layout is decided and a persona is created, you may keep it as a template as it will help maintain consistency across your projects.
Choose demographic information
Giving your personas relatable names, age, gender, place of residence or origin, occupation, etc can help in evoking empathy while providing insights into personality traits. Details like marital status, income, etc can also be added to the list.
The name of the persona should be selected wisely as a name can impart generalized assumptions to people viewing the document. The message the title conveys to its viewers is important.
To record personality traits you may make use of personality tests conducted among users during research. These personality traits can be anything like the personas being introverts, outgoing, energetic, etc. You should choose proper adjectives that help you differentiate one user’s personality traits from another.
An image should be chosen to represent the persona. But staged photos or photographs of popular figures should be avoided.
Details regarding the persona’s background should be recorded as it might lead to new insights.
At the same time, the persona should not be overloaded with information. It should contain only valuable and insightful information. This information should reflect trends observed from interviews and surveys.
Understanding the persona’s goals helps you to align your goals to theirs.
The users should ultimately achieve their goals from using your product. The end goal can be tangible or intangible. Eg: Tasks, where completion of an action is the goal or the user can look for experience goals like fun, feeling relaxed etc.
Channelizing your efforts and resources towards similar goals will ensure better results.
Define motivations and frustrations
Your findings of what motivates or frustrates the users should be included in personas.
This understanding helps you to serve the users better as this knowledge allows you to make necessary improvements to your product eventually providing a better user experience.
The persona’s attitude towards your product should be documented. This includes the value they find in the product, the solutions they seek, etc.
You may make use of real quotes or comments by the users acquired from user interviews, surveys, or questionnaires.
This section is very important while defining a persona. Tier refers to the level of engagement the user has with the product. They can be first-time users, late adopters, etc.
The tier can also refer to the knowledge or adaptability the users have with the product. Eg; professionals, enthusiasts, and so on.
The user’s level of commitment towards the products too can be stated through these tiers. Eg; Free users, paid users etc.
The bio and the extra details
By this time the persona you build is ready. But you may still add a few more personal details like their skills, knowledge, the technology used by them, the brands they use and more, to make the persona more personalized and detailed.
Tips to create better user personas
- Avoid using imaginary details just because the personas created are imaginary. The key to making an effective persona is doing proper research and including real data.
- Conduct customer surveys and use the right questions to understand personality traits and demographic details of the users.
- Multiple personas should be created to represent a large user base which will be diverse and too vast to represent in a single persona.
- Never neglect a bio as this helps in binding all the data collected through research and turn the data into a life-like description which represents a person that will seem more realistic and relatable.
- Sites like Xtensio provide templates to create personas. You can make use of these to speed up your process.
- Understanding how your users use your product and their experiences gives you first hand data for your persona. For this you can map the customer’s journey and understand the users better.
- To make the context very clear to the viewers of the persona, illustrations and visual contents can be used. This also makes the persona developed more memorable and helps in triggering emotions.
- Try to highlight at least one metric that shows key differences or similarities among the users. This helps in segmenting the personas into right groups.
- Personality traits or skills can be represented on a sliding scale rather than keeping it specific. With this, stereotyping of the personas can be avoided.
- A persona should not be too long or descriptive. Anyone should be able to grasp the information it provides in a single glance.
Main challenges and their solutions in creating a user persona
Lack of understanding
- Personas are themes in qualitative data which are generalizations and not perfect science
- Thus researchers or stakeholders can be skeptical about the validity of personas
- Make stakeholders understand how important personas are to the project even before creating the personas.
- To make most of the investment they put in for personas, stakeholders expect elaborate personas that cover a lot of data. But these long personas lack data actionable for specific design projects.
- Personas with target focus seem more effective as the data collected can help with specific workflow or features and have direct influence on design.
- Understand stakeholder’s goals
- Provide the right tool for the job
- Help them understand their scope of influence
Uncertainty about how personas can be used
Not everyone is familiar with user personas and it can be difficult to understand it will be useful in the design process.
- Do not show it as a piece of artwork
- Refer to personas in design discussions
- Make use of personas in a practical sense
Designers creating personas solely
Personas are often created by designers and imposed. People can be skeptical about the result as they don’t know when and where it was created.
Do not create them alone and deliver them to users. Stakeholders should be involved in the process so that they understand how different themes in the persona were derived.