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The Complete Guide To User Personas: What Are They and Why They Matter in UX Design ?


Illustration of a man looking at various persona profile in front of him

Picture this - what if you were able to design your product or service truly how your target

audience wants it? What if there was a tool that could nudge you in the right direction?

Here is where a User Persona steps in!


When used properly, a User Persona can supercharge your UX Design process. At its core, a

persona helps designers, marketers, and business-owners better understand their products and its user needs, thus helping accelerate the design process. It is a powerful tool that helps you figure out what your users truly want.


So what exactly are user personas? What can they do for you? And why should you care? Let’s

dive into how a User Persona can help your business.

What is a User Persona?

a sample of a user persona profile

A User Persona is a fictional personality that describes your users’ primary behaviours and

characteristics. User Personas are a representation of the user’s goals, abilities, qualities, and

motivations, derived from user data. Personas are essential to creating personable products that grab the attention of the right people and help them do the right thing- without getting frustrated or confused along the way.


User Personas essentially help you understand who your users are and what they want from a

product. For example, if someone has an app that helps them organize their finances but doesn't allow them to save their payments made at the end of each month (a common problem), then this information about user needs could inform future solutions for this problem area.

Without knowing who your users will be, it becomes harder to build an experience that delights

your users and fulfills their needs. If you don't know who they are or how they will use your

product, you can't create a design that meets their needs. You need to get into their heads and

understand what they value above all else in order to create awesome products for them.


Typically, a User Persona is made up of the following elements:

illustration of a persona inforgraphically showing Common key traits, User goal, and User aproach

Common, key user traits

This includes background information relevant to your product/service- details about lifestyles, living situations, spending habits, etc.


User Goals

This is a summary of what the user wants from your product/service, which helps make more

informed decisions in your design process.


User approach

An approach defines how the user wants to achieve this solution. It helps gather information on

common human behaviours.


What to avoid asking

While important, demographic data might not always be useful when creating a persona. They

often tend to create generalizations that can taint your user persona. When collecting user data, it is important to be mindful to ask only what is relevant to your product. For example, a particular new feature might not require gender, location, or physical information to be analysed.


How is a User Persona useful to your Design process?

infographic illustration about user persona and design process

Many stakeholders tend to define Personas as a stepping stone to a more user-centric design.

However, User Personas are much more than that. A Persona stays parallel-y with you- guiding

your design every step of the way and steering it in the right direction. By developing a deep

understanding of why people do what they do today, as well as why they might behave

differently tomorrow, you'll be able to form better relationships with your users from day 1 by

building better products for them.


This approach creates loyal users who will gladly share your product with others based on how it made them feel about themselves or changed their behaviours long after its launch date!


Here are 5 key reasons why a User Persona should be an integral part of your design process:


1. A User Persona helps you understand what your users truly want.

illustration of a man holding a torch looking at different personas while there's an open laptop in front of him

User personas help you identify key themes and thought patterns amongst your audience,

A User personas helps you understand your users by giving you a clear definition of who they

are--what motivates them? What drives their behaviour? How do they interact with technology? What makes them tick as individuals? These questions will guide the creation of an effective product experience for each persona's needs.


A Persona also prevents you from making self-referential design choices, i,e helps avoid

assumptions. By using user personas in your service design, you'll be able to focus on their needs rather than yours or those of the business as a whole. It's much more effective to create a product that helps people achieve their goals than an individual service for one user!


2. Personas put users at the center of your design process.

illustration of a man holding huge magnifying glass and spotting specific persona out of total four personas in front of him

A User Persona also helps you make better decisions about the features of your product. It

enables you to connect with your target audience and make better, more well-informed product decisions and nudge your design thinking in the right direction.


One example of this is when designing an online shopping experience for consumers who are

new or infrequent users. If you know that they are new or infrequent visitors, then it might be

easier for them not only because they don't know what all the buttons do but also because they

won't feel like they need all the features right away (and may even find themselves skipping over some).


3. Help communicate with stakeholders and build Uniformity.

illustration of two men in front of a huge screen like board on tri stand

User personas are a great way to get different groups of people on the same page about their

goals. They can help you understand who your users are by describing their ideal experiences.

Personas are especially helpful for companies that have different teams working on the same

product or service. Since each team needs to know how the product should look like in a larger

context, i.e, how it’s being developed overall.


They are also an excellent way to communicate with your stakeholders- the people who

influence your business decisions- about the kind of person(s) who will use your product.

Personas also create a common alignment between business and user needs.


By providing uniform context, personas help bring together the product approach for each team and helps streamline the development process.


4. A Persona helps create empathetic products.

illustration of two minds

If you've ever tried to create a website that your users would actually want to use, you know

what a challenge it can be. You're probably thinking about how to make the site more functional and appealing, but there's one thing we forget: our users' needs are different from ours. That's why user personas are so important in UX design- they help us understand our users better and ensure that our products will be useful for them.


It also helps define the tone and voice of how we speak to our users, based on product

characteristics.


By empathizing with them and understanding their behaviours, we recognize user needs by

stepping out of ourselves and realizing their expectations. User personas help us identify with theusers and put their needs at the core of the design process. This helps create solutions that solve real problems for them instead of just making things look pretty (which is cool too!).


How to create a User Persona for your product

1. Gather User data

illustration of a woman looking at multiple persona profile in front of her

The first step to creating a User Persona is conducting user research. There are many different

types of research you can use for creating your user persona(s). For example, if you're building

an app for fitness enthusiasts who want better sleep habits or dieting tips, then focus groups

might be the best option--but if you want more insight into how older adults think about

technology usage (and what their preferences are), then focus on interviews would be better

suited for your needs.


This data will help you identify who your users are and what type of data is needed for you to

create a persona.


2. Analyse research data to identify patterns

illustration of a man interacting with mobile screen that has details of a persona

Once you are through with your User Research, it is now time to analyse data and draw

conclusions. This data can speak volumes on how your product is currently doing and which

direction it should take, hereon. Some key elements to look out for, based on the needs of your

product:


a. Key demographics- age, location, family background, income, etc.

b. Lifestyle choices, such as daily spending/saving habits.

c. Important behaviour and thought patterns

d. Readiness towards your product’s features and the solutions you are offering.

e. Common pain points and bumps in your product journey.


Once you derive this important information from your data, you can start identifying patterns and trends.


3. Create your Persona(s)

template persoa profile example

Now armed with your User Behaviour patterns, start creating your personas. According to your product’s needs, you might need more than one persona. Typically, your persona should have:


a. Name

Feel free to give the persona a fictional name or a tagline that best describes the particular user

segment.


b. Description

Add details derived from your analysis- create an identity that you can work with and treat as a

real User.


c. Problems

Finally, describe and highlight pain points that Users have reported commonly.


Avoid adding too much unnecessary data that could colour the persona. As Don Norman puts it, ‘personas only need to be realistic, not real, not necessarily even accurate (as long as they accurately characterize the user base.’ In some cases, you might feel the need to create multiple personas as users cannot always be segmented into one. Focus on your primary user set.


4. Create situations for your User Personas

illustration of aman holding huge pencil

Once your descriptions are ready, you need to now understand how to create accurate scenarios for your Personas. This interesting Persona technique aims to develop scenarios that outline solutions. These scenarios are possible triggers for the potential use of your product or service. In other words, a scenario is built around situations. Create scenarios that put each of your personas in the position of a user to give them life. For example, place your Persona in the middle of a scenario and map out their behaviours based on data. This will help you create actual, usable features and solutions for your product. Scenarios typically begin by setting up the persona in a particular situation with context about a problem that they could solve.


5. Present to your stakeholders!

illustration of a man presenting persona to a woman sitting with a laptop in front of him

Finally, share your findings with your team and stakeholders. Once everyone has access to these Personas, it will help bring everyone on the same page and make actionable decisions that are aligned.


Your Takeaways

With all this information at hand, what's left is designing something truly amazing for the right

people - something that makes them feel like stars because it brings out all of their best features while still feeling friendly and welcoming! And when things go wrong (and they always do) then you want something ready at hand that can help explain why things weren't as good as expected or offer solutions so everything can go back to normal as fast as possible...which is exactly what User Personas provide!

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