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User Experience

Jan 20, 2022

What are User Personas? Everything about it in a nutshell

What are User Personas? Everything about it in a nutshellWhat are User Personas? Everything about it in a nutshell

The word 'user' is the chief anchor of a UX design process. Insights about users and their needs informs and guides the design team through the lifecycle of the product.

Knowing the users helps to identify the goals that the product is meant to achieve - it is to fulfill a need of the users, solve the problem of the users and be usable for the users.

A user persona helps the design teams to relate to the people they are designing the product for. They are -

  • backed by user research,
  • properly define needs and goal of the users, and
  • highlight vital points about the user and their behavior.

What are user personas?

User personas are archetypes of the user.

It involves creating biodata of a fictional person who represents the user group who would use the product. It would typically include vital details about him/her, their needs, goals, tasks, lifestyle, habits, preferences, likes, dislikes and much more.

It helps to identify the exact emotional and practical triggers of users that makes them choose one particular product over the other.

When is a user persona created?

User personas are used by UX design teams to understand their users and to determine the scope of their products and how it can optimize user experience.

Personas are created in the second phase of the Design Thinking process - that is - the Define phase. After the Empathy phase, teams synthesize their insights from the user research. At this stage, creating user personas helps to get their insights about the users on paper. This helps them to go ahead to the next phase - the Ideate phase.

Like all the other phases, Personas are created iteratively. They are revisited and revised as per the new insights driven by other research tools.

When is a user persona created?

The research that goes into forming user personas usually happens early in the design process. Going ahead, personas will be used during all later phases of a design process to inform design decisions made by the team.

The Basic Framework of a User Persona

User personas are a representation of characteristic traits for an actual set of users. Each persona represents the needs of a larger group of users. Creating or defining personas involves making a fictional character who will use the product.

Insights about the users are detailed out under the following categories -

  • Demographics
    • Name
    • Designation
    • Name of the organization
    • Professional status
    • Age
    • Gender
    • Location
    • Relationship status
    • Economic Background
  • Image
  • Bio/About
  • Quotes/Key Statements
  • Tasks
  • Goals
  • Needs
  • Scenarios
  • Tech Savviness
  • Environment for using product
  • Motivations
  • Frustrations/Concerns
  • Brands Used

Though the name and the image of this character is fictional, the rest of the details are based on -

  • real data collected through surveys and other user research processes.

It should reflect upon -

  • The user's current usage pattern.
  • Related to a very specific domain of the product.

How creating a user persona helps design teams?

User persona is created and hung on the notice board or office wall, uploaded to UX research tools and exchanged among colleagues in PDF files. The objective is to keep the user persona in front of the eyes of the entire design team in their working hours.

In this way, the design team feels like having the user in front of them in person. When you give face to the concept of the 'user,' it becomes easy to identify him/her as a real person with feelings, thoughts and emotions.

This fictional person represents a group of people (in this case - user) with the same characteristics, goals and challenges.

Design teams relate to the users in a better way, understand their needs, and exactly how they will use the product. Accordingly, it helps the design teams to -

  • Specify the user group.
  • Gain empathy for the users.
  • Identify the key functionality of the product that they should focus on.
  • Address problems that they need to solve.
  • New features and updates they need to introduce.
  • Create successful user flow for UX products.
  • Guide the overall marketing strategies.

How to create a user persona?

Now that we have emphasized on how user persona helps in the design teams, let us see how to create a user persona.

Research data

As mentioned earlier, user persona is entirely data driven. Significant tools that help get real and accurate insights and data about the users include -

  • Website Analytics
  • User Interviews
  • Ethnographic Interviews
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Stakeholder Interviews

Find Patterns

User Persona Find Patterns

Once you get all the research datas, you have to put it down on paper. When all the insights are on papers and you start sorting it out, you will find common patterns in regards to -

  • What is the gender ratio among the users?
  • What is their age group?
  • How do they log in to your product or other competitive products?
  • Do they sign up to your app/website or use their social media accounts to log in?
  • What is their pay package?
  • What other brands do they use?
  • What kind of neighborhood do they live in?
  • Are they single parents or couples with pets?
  • What vehicle do they drive?
  • Their dining habits
  • What does a day in their life look like?

..... And so on.

These common patterns will help you to segregate the users into different groups. And you will be able to identify the key parameters that define your target group .

Components of User Persona

The key components of user persona include -

  • Photo - Pick one on the basis age and other attributes from the data
  • Name - Pick a simple name that is easy to remember. You can also add an adjective to the name for example - Techie Henry, Witty Rachel or Foodie John. It will help in the process of personification. The adjective you choose should align with qualities and attributes that are relevant to the key features of your product.
  • Bio - Write a crisp and concise note about the user
  • Demographic - Includes age, gender, social/marital status and work profiles. Take the average age of users. Look for the most common occupation that the users have in your data.
  • Character and Personality of the user - Find common patterns in their tendencies, kind of people they are in general and their user journey.
  • Problems/Frustrations - What are the commonalities in their problems that the product helps them to solve? Or what common problems are they facing in completing a task using the product?
  • While listing down the problems, focus on kind tasks that frustrate them and what kind of tasks delights them.
  • Goals and motivations - What will help the user group to improve their situations? What are their unmet desires/ needs? What is their reason for using your product?
  • A good idea is to use a quote that defines the user's goal.
  • For example - Goal of a Content Marketer would primarily be - "I would like to create brand awareness, brand loyalty, customer engagement and retention, and support internal communication."
  • Daily routine - What is common in the daily routine of your user group? Are they early risers, fitness enthusiasts, disciplined and organized, or are they addicted to social media, have an active social life and late risers?
  • Tell a story - This step will help your design team to empathize with the users. The collected data will only reveal numbers. But creating a story will help in the process of personification. It will add the flesh, blood and emotion to the user persona.

How many user personas should be user-persona?

How many user personas should be user-persona?

Ideally, the number of personas you should make depends on the kind of project. The list of personas should ideally cover the wide range of users of your product.

However, having too many personas might lead to confusion within the design team. To quote a number - the least should be two and the maximum could go up to anywhere between six to eight.

Personas are created by segregating the target groups into different categories. And each user persona represents one of these categories.

For example, you could interview people with a common goal - weight loss. Here you could create two user personas - one could follow an intermittent diet and the other could follow a keto diet.

Template for User persona

Template for User persona

Having a fixed template is time saving and helps you to remain to the point. Create a single template that would apply to all user personas. Create a hierarchical list of important information with more space devoted to problems/frustrations, and goals and motivation.

User persona should reveal important information at a glance. Hence using visual elements such as bar charts are recommended over lengthy texts. Information should be consistent and briefly pointed out to make it easy to understand and remember.

Thus…

The importance of user persona in creating optimal user experience cannot be emphasized enough. It is aimed at giving direction to the user design team. The idea is not to bombard them with all the information you have gathered from your user research. Hence, make sure the number of user personas you create cover your entire target group. The vital insights that are presented are simple, concise, easy to relate and remember. Only then will it be useful for your design team. Otherwise, it is just another piece of paper in the pile.

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