Personas is a simple tool that helps you create your product with a specific target user in mind rather than a generic one. It’s a representation of the real target audience based on the data gathered in the previous user research phases.
Remember that every proper Persona is based on reliable data. If you didn’t have anything to start with, take a look at our User Interview guide.
At this point, you should have data from at least five user interviews. If the data overlaps, look for patterns and divide them into a Persona for each overlap.
In Talebook for instance, we noticed that most designers entering the UX field have a hard time kicking off their research phase. Many of them lacked knowledge in this field even though they are topnotch visual designers. This led to the creation of the ‘UI Designer’ Persona. We packed all these attributes into one persona, so we no longer have to tag every chunk of further research with different users. The persona serves as out reference point for any person or group of people with similar attributes.
Generating personas helps you empathize with your target users and demonstrate a clear understanding of who they are and what they want to achieve.
You can think of it as a theme with your similar users. The folder has its name, photo, and brief description.
In most cases, it’s a good idea to restrict your personas to a max of four. Each additional one can water down your ability to focus on the most important goals. Remember that the fundamental purpose of the research is to prioritize problems and solutions.
Step by step guide
Take a closer look at your data.
Examine the data you gathered in the Discovery Phase, particularly from the User Interviews. Tag your most essential insights and account for your stakeholder point of view, if any. A persona should reflect business goals as well. The needs of the users and the business are both crucial to creating a balanced and successful Persona.
What if I don’t have time to research real users?Sometimes you won’t have time or money to interview target users. In this case, it’s still possible to create Persona based on your stakeholder insight and competitor analysis.
You can take a closer look at a competitor’s social media and see what kind of people are interacting with their product. Remember that in this phase, you’ll need to avoid fictional profiles. It won’t bring any value to your further process and in some cases, can even do more harm than good.
Back to our illustration, we identified that the biggest struggle among UI designers was their lack of knowledge or experience in the research field.
The most common answers we got were:
- ‘It’s hard to define the goals of the product.’
- ‘We don’t have any process to kick off a new project.’
- ‘I tried to conduct research once, but I didn’t know where to start.’
This gave us a sign that it was a perfect persona material.
Identify patternsOnce you’ve gathered enough data, it’s time to identify trends by taking a closer look at tagged data to see if any overlap emerges naturally. At this point, you should understand that different groups of people have a novel approach to the subject.
For example, after the discovery phase in Talebook, we identified that most of UI Designer with minimal research experience were looking for step by step guides to help them. On the other hand, experienced UX Designers struggled with reporting results to the stakeholders.
Create the PersonaTalebook’s Persona consists of five main elements:
Let’s take a closer look at each of them.
PhotoGive your persona a name and upload an image that represents them. This helps you build their virtual identity and make it easily recognizable to your team.
For example, in Talebook photo attached to UX Designer is an older man in turtleneck and glasses. We wanted to emphasize the age and experience attached to this Persona.
NameEach Persona should have a unique name. It gives it a rational fraction and will help to bring Persona to discussion or any other research material.
DescriptionA place to summarize the attributes of your persona. It should include their background as well as their current challenges and desires. What is their primary motivation for using your service or tool? It should consist of several goals and the desired outcome of the user actions.
UsersAdd all your respondents from user interviews who match the persona group.
ProblemsEvery Persona represents different problems. Add all of them to this section to have a summary of their personal struggle. Try to fill the user’s column first. Talebook will automatically show all problems related to added users.
Share your findings with stakeholdersWhen you finalize your problems list, share it with your stakeholders. Explain that this list of problems is not based on your subjective ideas or recommendations. Rather, it’s the result of thorough research, which reflects the most common issues among user groups and competitive products sorted with your knowledge.
It’s common for the stakeholder to be quite busy and so they may not want to be involved in this research. That’s why it helps to have a strict deadline. If they don’t respond in a timely manner, move to the next step.
Distribute among teamA persona has no value if it’s not well defined and understood within your organization. All your team members should be familiar with your primary Personas. It will help you stay up to date with the main problems for your target users and how they differ within disparate groups. Share the Talebook link of each persona with all your team members. and bring them along when talking about the app.
For example, if you’re talking about a new feature, think about what Tim — your primary Persona would think about it and whether it’s in line with his expectations.
Base your personas on real peopleDo some preliminary research before creating your persona. Use your data to identify their key attributes. If you have a running product, use your reviews and social media to identify the most common user profiles, their needs, and problems. In case you are creating a Persona for a brand new project, you can run new User Interviews and Competitors Analysis to have essential data.
Don’t create too many personasTry to keep your Personas within a 3-5 range. Too many personas can distract you. The main goals are to have a broad picture of your target audience and integrate their needs into your product development.
Keep your personas up to datePersona creation doesn’t end with the first iteration. New information floats every now and then, so be sure to update your Persona. You can describe additional problems or edit an entire description.
ConclusionOnce you’ve created a few broad personas from the interviews, you can spend as much time as you want adding other important details. You’ll know your users better if you speak with them long enough. You’ll know what they want because they’ll tell you. However, it takes great skill to extract this information. Consider throwing your personas into various scenarios as it will encourage you to think from different perspectives. Eventually, your product will slowly become user-centered and user-driven.
The most important thing to remember when creating personas is to never box in your users. They’re multi-faceted, emotional human beings who believe that you’re worthy enough of their time. Treat them accordingly.