A fictitious representation of your typical user or customer - a useful tool for getting a clearer image of your end user so you can make more targetted and empathetic decisions.
TERM IN ACTION
“After creating our User Persona, we realized that we needed to make some alterations to our product after we had a clearer image of what our users are seeking through our product.”
User Personas are descriptions of fictitious characters reflecting the values, behaviors, and characteristics of a product’s ideal user. Teams use Personas to align around specific user types for development.
Having qualitative information about potential users helps drive decision making and provides a filter team members can use when considering different options.
Users Personas are the ultimate tool to help product teams stay laser-focused on the customer’s needs and the problems your developers are working to solve.
The concept of a User Persona was created by Alan Cooper, a noted software developer, in 1983. He devised a prototype of what the Persona would become based on informal interviews with seven to eight users. Today, a User Persona is defined to be “Fictional characters, which you create based upon your research to represent the different user types that might use your service, product, site, or brand in a similar way” (Dam & Siang, 2020).
Creating personas will help you understand your users’ needs, experiences, behaviors, and goals. You can think of a User Persona as a character study of your target customer. It aids in imagining the target audience as real people and visualizing how the product will fit into their real life. While building your persona, you can include information like:
- Likes and dislikes
- Pain points
- Favorite brands
- Leaders they follow
Product Management and User Personas
So you want to build a digital product? History tells us that to create a successful product, you need to build it for someone. Being customer-focused (or customer-oriented) helps us develop better products for one straightforward reason: it helps our product solve our customers’ problems and needs.
User Personas are particularly useful to product managers for several reasons:
- User Personas are vital to the design process: Your design team will use User Personas to build a more useful and meaningful user experience. Personas help designers to create understanding and empathy with the end-users. For you, as a product manager, they give you a common ground to begin conversations with your designers. If you both understand and respect the User Personas, you’ve got common ground. And the common ground is vital for influencing without authority.
- User Personas keep the entire team customer-focused: Everyone on the team has it written down in black and white who they’re designing for, programming for, coding for, or marketing to. This avoids mistakes and misunderstandings about who the customer really is.
- Storytelling is a huge part of being a product manager, and User Personas will help you sell your product’s story: Personas paint a picture of what your product will do after launch, who it will help, and how. It allows stakeholders to place themselves in the user’s shoes and better understand the purpose of the product.
- Marketing teams also make the most out of personas by using them to guide their marketing efforts: It’s helpful, when designing marketing campaigns, to understand who you’re going to reach.
Create your own Personas: Step by Step
Step 1 – Sketch out your assumptions and what you want to know
The first step is to consolidate what you already know about your users. This could be based on existing data if you’re working on a new feature for an existing product with an existing user base, or it might be entirely driven by assumptions. You also need to figure out what information you need to gather when conducting user research.
Step 2 – Set up your user survey
Build a list of questions based on the information you’re trying to gather. It’s essential to have a mix of both qualitative and quantitative data. These can be some general questions like:
- Describe yourself in one sentence
- Which of these features have you used in the past month?
- Which activities consume most of your time?
- How do you stay connected with your friends? Direct and social media?
Step 3 – Analyze the data
It’s time to analyze the data you have gathered:
- Organize by demographic: Start by segmenting your users by demographic. Are your users overwhelmingly in the same age bracket? If you have a diverse set of users, see if there is a correlation between demographics and behavior.
- Organize by usage: Some products will have hardcore users and ‘hobbyists.’ Segmenting your users can help separate the people who need your product every day and those who just dip in and out.
Step 3 – Create your User Personas
Once you’ve analyzed the data and have a clear picture of who your users are, it’s time to create your User Personas. There are many design tools out there that you can use to create your persona!
And don’t forget, your Personas must be:
- Relatable: You want your team to relate to the persona almost as if it is a person they would know.
- Concise: Put only those details relevant enough for your team to design and build features for the product.
- Well-researched: Start with a blank slate, perform market research, float surveys, conduct interviews and validate them with your team.
- Well-structured: Structure your findings to create a story. This will put the team and stakeholders in the user’s shoes.