Table of contents:
What is a persona?
A persona is a description of an archetypal user of a product or service.
Personas are a super valuable tool in marketing and UX design. They can be built with information about the target group to help designers, marketers, product managers, and others in the team. The Persona theory and practice have been around since the 1990s but only recently have they become relevant in the UX design community. They are research-based archetypes representing different user types and stakeholders that might similarly use a site, brand, or product. Along with user stories and use cases, they help you empathize with your users and define your product's features, interactions, and user flows.
In contrast to proto-personas, personas should be based on qualitative and quantitative research data. Through surveys, interviews, and other means of communication with potential customers, you can learn about their skills, goals, frustration, and needs.
To create a good persona based on accurate data, you should survey your current customers with specific questions e.g.
- What do they want from your company?
- How do they use your products?
- How do they feel while using your product?
- Do they have any problems or pain points?
- How do they solve them?
- What are their goals?
- What motivates them?
How to create a persona?
There is no one right way to do it; you should choose the method that works best for your project.
Regardless of which method you choose, there are some basic steps involved. First, you need to create a template for your persona(s) that includes all of the information you want them to contain (see below for more details about what should be included). Then, you need to decide how many personas you need (typically no more than four or five). If you base your personas on user research data, you can look at the data and group users into categories based on shared goals or needs.
To create a persona, we must have data generalized from previous research, surveys and interviews, such as:
Demographics - the person's age, gender, location, education level, employment status, and any other demographic information
Background - A summary of their life so far; where did they grow up? What was their family like? What was school like? What jobs did they work? When did their interest in [topic] begin?
Goals - What does this person want to accomplish? Why do they want to achieve it? How does this relate to our business goals?
Challenges - What obstacles stand in their way of accomplishing their goal(s)?
Personas can also include quotes that summarize overall attitude towards crucial aspects of life and help to connect with them on an emotional level.
To make personas more realistic, they can also have pictures - they can be photos of actors, models, or realistic drawings/paintings. Still, it's better to pick images of real people if you can find one that matches the persona description.
How can persona help you with product improvement?
- They help you develop a strategy for how to target your market.
- They help you to stay on track when designing a new product.
- You can focus on what your customers need rather than what you think they need.
- They help you identify pain points in your product or service.
- Thanks to them, you can prioritize your actions and make informed decisions about which projects are worth pursuing.
- You can visualize who your customers are to aim at them more precisely with your messaging and content.
Personas can be prominent because they allow you to step back and see your users as real people. Let's see an example of a persona on this template.
Nielsen Lene, Personas - User Focused Design, London 2013.
Faller Patrick, Putting Personas to Work in UX Design: What They Are and Why They’re Important, Adobe XD Ideas, https://xd.adobe.com/ideas/process/user-research/putting-personas-to-work-in-ux-design/
Fard Adam, UX Personas are Useless. Unless Created Properly, UX Mag, https://uxmag.com/articles/ux-personas-are-useless-unless-created-properly
Lin Hsin-Jou, Persona versus proto-persona, UX Planet, https://uxplanet.org/persona-versus-proto-persona-9e26e831ed51
Mulder Steve, Yaar Ziv, The User is Always Right. A Practical Guide to Creating and Using Personas for the Web, Berkeley 2007
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