What Are Personas And How To Create Them In 10-Steps

April 28, 2022

Creating personas is the most commonly used knowledge-preparation technique that designers use to develop a meaningful understanding of the users they need to serve. 

When it comes to UX design, developing a deep understanding about target users is one of the necessities to ensure successful design. One of the methods used to develop such an understanding is to create a persona.

A persona is a representation of the user you’re targeting. As a word, persona means mask of somebody. 

some_mask_as_representation_of_the_word_persona

Personas are representations of key members of the user group who will be interacting with a website. They are based on detailed research and help you to understand the motivation and the context behind each kind of user. 

They also serve as valuable tools for keeping a project on track and analyzing design decisions at later stages in the process. They offer a framework for collecting and documenting relevant insights about the project’s target audience.

Designers, project managers and other professionals are likely to be aware of the term “persona”. It’s been a popular design and development tool for years but other people are more likely to be unfamiliar with personas. 

This article explains what personas are, how they can help businesses improve their user experience and how to create them by following 10–steps. 

What Are Personas?

neon_lights_for_explaining_target_audience

You can think of personas as what a typical member of the target audience may look like. Personas are expressions of a group of people who you are targeting. It is a description, sometimes with names and photographs, of your target segment that develops persona profiles for your customers. Personas can be built for different audiences such as customers, prospects, employees…

The term persona is derived from Greek and means mask. When we work with personas, we put ourselves in the shoes of the users in order to understand their demands in relation to a new product. Walking in the shoes of the consumer provides you an understanding of what their desires are and how they will utilize the new product. A persona also allows you to obtain a sense of what the consumer will use the product for and in what future circumstance. 

In the late 90’s there were many attempts to create a model about communicating and understanding users since technology became more and more accessible. In 1999, Alan Cooper proposed the notion of personas in his book “The Inmates Are Running the Asylum”. Taking the concept of persona from a purpose-oriented perspective, Cooper questioned what a typical user would like to do with the product. Three other different perspectives born since these days: 

  1. Goal-Directed Perspective
  2. Role-Based Perspective
  3. Engaging Perspective
  4. Fiction-Based Perspective

Creating Personas For Improved UX Design

colorful-faces-for-personas

Creating user personas can help you create a better understanding of your target audience, so you will be able to create compelling messages. If your messages are in alignment with your users’ goals and motivations, you will be able to reach the target audience and increase the chances of people responding to your business’ calls to action.

Persona creation requires research. Here are a few common ways to accomplish required research:

🎤 Conduct interviews with users. For a digital product that already exists, this means interviewing current users. For digital products still in the idea phase, this means interviewing potential users to get an understanding of their needs and preferences. This can be done through one-on-one interviews or focus groups with multiple participants.

📝 Conduct surveys to gather data from many users at once. This is an inexpensive option for gathering information from large numbers of people but the responses may not be as rich as those from direct interviews.

📊 Analyze web analytics data to find patterns of behavior based on user demographics. If your digital product already exists, you can use Google Analytics or another tool to look at who is using it and how they’re using it.

Once you have your research results, compile them into a persona document. Empathy mapping is a great way to document this information. It should contain information about each user group you’ve identified.

The ultimate goal of UX design has always been to create a user experience worth remembering. By creating personas, you can create a more personalized solution that draws on the anxieties and desires of your different users.

When creating a persona the main concern should be who will use your service or product and how they will do it. It’s important to understand how this person perceives your product or service and how they will interact with it. Creating personas will help to guide design decisions as well as focus marketing efforts.

Creating personas is a critical design tool because it can guide your decisions throughout the design process by helping you to focus on a specific, representative user. The more detailed your personas are, the more useful they will be.

Features Of Personas

persona_example_illustration

When we talk about creating personas we need to realize that the thing we express as persona is not a written profile of one potential customer. It’s a fictional representation of your target audience, which is why it’s more useful to create more than one persona, based on different customer needs. An excellent user persona goes beyond just demographic data. 

Here are the key features that a user persona should have:

🧠First of all, it should be internally consistent, a cohesive and believable character sketch.

💡It also needs to be comprehensive, with as much information as you can get about your target users.

🎯 It should also reflect your digital product’s target market as accurately as possible. 

👥 Ideally, you’ll want to create multiple personas, with unique characteristics that lend themselves to your digital product’s various user groups.

Creating Personas In 10-Step

Lene Nielsen suggests a ten step models towards creating user personas:

StepQuestions AskedMethods UsedDocuments Produced
Finding The UsersWho are the users?
How many user are there?
What do they do with the system?
Quantitative data collection.Reports
Building a HypothesisWhat are the differences among the users?Analyzing the material.
Grouping the users.
Naming the groups.
A draft description of the target groups.
VerificationData for personas: likes, dislikes, inner needs, values. Qualitative data collection.Reports.
Finding PatternsDoes the initial grouping hold? Are there other groups to consider?
Are there equally important?
Categorization.Description of categories.
Constructing PersonasBody: name, age, picture
Psyche: Extraverted, introvert
Background: Occupation
Emotions and Attitudes: Towards the technology, company, the information
Categorization.Description of categories.
Defining SituationsWhat are the needs of this persona?
What are the situations?
Analyzing data for situations and needs.Catalog of needs and situations.
Validation and Buy-inDo you know someone like this?People who know of the personas read and comment on the persona description.
DisseminationHow can we share the personas with the organization?Posters, meetings, email campaigns, events.
Creating ScenariosIn a the situation, with a given goal, what happens when the persona uses the technology?The narrative scenario, using personas, descriptions and situations to form scenarios.Scenarios, use cases, requirements, specifications.
On-going DevelopmentDoes new information alter the personas?Usability test, new data collection.
Feedback regarding users from all those interacting with them e.g. sales, support, trainers.
Foundations document
Persona Creating in 10 Steps

In summary,

A persona is something like a virtual customer acting as a gateway to know the real needs of the customers/users. Personas help in determining the particular role that the customer will play in the development of your product.

Personas help us concentrate on the persona and do our best to make the product suitable to their needs. Though this sounds easy, it’s quite tough to design the persona. When working with personas the first step is collecting information about the customers. No detail is too small or insignificant. 

The next is putting all that information into a comprehensive document that will later be used as the go-to guide for everything you do with the customer. To create a great persona it’s necessary to understand your customers’ mind, behaviors and attitudes towards a particular product or concept. This can only be done with thorough research and data collected through observations and interactions.

References

Nielsen, Lene. Personas – User Focused Design. Vol. 1373. London: Springer, 2013.

Cooper, Alan. “The Inmates Are Running The Asylum.” Software-Ergonomie’99. Vieweg+ Teubner Verlag, Wiesbaden, 1999. 17-17.

Pruitt, John; Grudin, Jonathan (2003). [ACM Press the 2003 Conference – San Francisco, California (2003.06.06-2003.06.07)] Proceedings of the 2003 Conference on Designing for User Experiences – DUX ’03 – Personas. , (), 1–.

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