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UX designers like to design with a specific purpose in mind. One way to do this is by knowing who exactly you’re designing a product or service for. By conducting research and creating detailed profiles of different sections of your customer base, you can better understand what your users like, dislike, and what motivates them to use your service. By following this guide, you can learn how to create quality personas that will benefit and impact your UX design.

What Is a Persona in UX?

A persona in UX is the archetypical user products are created for. These users’ characteristics, needs, and goals represent a larger group of users. UX designers create personas to make their work more specific to a certain kind of customer. Designers create a one- to two-page document that includes each persona’s behaviors, goals, skills, attitudes, values, and other useful background information. Think of each persona as a fictional person who may be a customer or prospect of your company.

Creating personas is important because they provide an in-depth understanding of your target audience. UX designs can be based on real findings rather than predictions based on little information. Personas help you create UX designs that have more purpose and benefits for the user.

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Understanding your target audience leads to a more empathetic approach to user design. Designers can see new perspectives and identify exactly what design features they need to include. It’s easy to design based on your own preferences, so by following personas, you can avoid biased design and give your users what they actually want.

Good personas reflect how the user is currently interacting with a product rather than how they will interact with a product in the future. By focusing on the present, your team can better tailor future products to fit what this persona wants and needs. Though personas require some guesswork, all of this should be backed up by real data. Research is the only way to accurately assess what kind of users are using your products.

four people socializing

Image via Flickr by Rawpixel Ltd

How to Create a Persona

Creating a useful persona requires a lot of time and effort, but it is worth it when your company can create the best user experiences possible. By understanding all the facets of your customer base, you can create more personalized designs that will receive a positive reaction from users.

Here are steps to follow when creating a UX persona:

1. Develop Personas Through Research

Collect information about your different target audiences to create a persona. You need to understand their motivations, behaviors, and thinking processes.

Use the information you already have about your customers whether that be buying patterns or demographics. Then, use things such as web analytics, user interviews, and surveys to find out more data. During user interviews, take note of your observations. Notice what questions users feel passionate about or what pain points keep coming up.

One thing to keep in mind is to create personas based on real information rather than stereotypes. Your personas should be based on reality or else they offer little value to the design process. People want to feel like companies are noticing their actual wants and needs instead of what stereotypes may indicate. Remember people are more nuanced than you may realize which is why extensive research is key to creating quality personas.

2. Create a Separate Document for Each Persona

As you look at your data, start to create personas based on the demographic information you find. A persona is a collective image of a section of your target audience, so create a fictional person based on this image. Each persona should represent a large group of users or customers who all have shared characteristics.

Some personas will be more important than others, so use your data to prioritize them. For example, if you find both middle class and affluent people are using your product, but find that the middle class demographic is more prominent, this persona should have more weight in your decision-making process. You may find that you can create different levels of your product to fit specific personas. Create a more affordable option for the middle-class persona and a high-end option for more affluent users.

3. Include Demographic Information

On your persona, include basic demographic information such as gender, age, marital status, job title, income level, and skills. You will need to heavily rely on your research when determining these demographics. Also, include a photo and a realistic name, so you can better envision someone who fits this persona. Only use fake names rather than people you know to keep your persona more objective. Make the demographic section as realistic as possible so your UX designers can create an experience tailored to a specific kind of user.

4. Write a Detailed Bio

Create a brief backstory to make this persona even more believable. Write about things such as their interests, family life, work-life, and aspirations. Include details about their behavior patterns and tendencies as well. Remember to keep the bio relevant to this persona’s demographic information and only include realistic details.

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5. Define Each Persona’s Goals

By defining a persona’s goals, you can target their wants and needs easier. Tailor the goals in relation to your company. For instance, if you are a travel company, you may include goals related to planning vacations or wanting to try new things. If you are a technology company, perhaps this persona wants to learn how to use new technologies.

6. Pinpoint Their Motivations and Frustrations

Determine what drives this persona to take action and what might hold them back. This section gives the UX team an inside look into the persona’s personality traits, strengths, weaknesses, and buying behaviors. For instance, if the persona is an early adapter of technology, they may desire innovative features. Likewise, if they have a hard time with technology, they may need a more intuitive user interface experience.

7. Include Brands They Like

You can learn a lot about a user based on the brands and influencers they like. By identifying these brands and influencers, you can see what kind of user experiences, marketing, and business models they use and your business can emulate them. If your users enjoy influencers on Instagram, for example, your UX designers may want to spend more time creating things for this platform.

8. Identify Their Preferred Channels

To really flesh out this persona, include other useful information such as their preferred social media platforms, types of technology, means of communication, and anything else that can improve UX design.

A Template for Creating Personas

Use a template for all of your persona documents to ensure you include all the important information you need about each kind of person. When filling in each section, refer to your research. Make sure to include any relevant information that will help your designers create the best UX experiences possible.

Here is a template that you can use when creating your personas:

[User Persona Type]
[Name]
[Photo]

Demographic
[Gender]
[Age]
[Marital status]
[Job title]
[Income level]
[Skills]

Bio
[Detailed summary of this persona’s background]

Goals

  • [Goal #1]
  • [Goal #2]
  • [Goal #3]

Motivations

  • [Motivation #1]
  • [Motivation #2]
  • [Motivation #3]

Frustrations

  • [Frustration #1]
  • [Frustration #2]
  • [Frustration #3]

Brands

  • [Brand #1]
  • [Brand #2]
  • [Brand #3]

Preferred Channels

  • [Channel #1]
  • [Channel #2]
  • [Channel #3]

Examples of UX Personas

These persona examples give you a better idea of what a filled out template should look like. By being thoughtful about each section, you can get a better idea of what this subsection of your customer base really looks like.

Here are a few examples of good personas:

Persona for a Travel Company

Affluent Empty Nester Mother

Susan Richardson

Persona for a Travel Company Affluent Empty Nester Mother
Image via Flickr by Mark Ittleman

Demographic 
Female
59 years
Married
High-end real estate agent
Household income: $300,000/year
Organized, personable, hardworking


Bio

Susan has worked hard her entire career as a real estate agent. Now that her children are in college, she has transitioned to part-time work. Since she specialized in selling high-end homes, she is always surrounded by an affluent lifestyle. On her days off, she enjoys shopping, taking her dog on walks, or going to lunch with her husband of 35 years.

Even though her two children are out of the house, she is still quite involved in their lives. She helps them finance their education and pays for many of their living expenses. Though she wants to be close to her children, she is also ready to explore the world now that she has the time and money. She wants travel solutions that don’t require a lot of computer skills.

Goals

  • Retire by the age of 62 and then focus on finding new hobbies to fill her time.
  • Spend more time traveling abroad.
  • Purchase a vacation home in Florida.

Motivations

  • Convenience of travel websites
  • Luxurious accommodations
  • Ability to earn travel rewards

Frustrations

  • Lack of tech-savvy
  • Prices changing every moment
  • Being far away from her children

Brands

  • Expedia
  • Kayak
  • Uber

Preferred Channels

  • Facebook
  • Email
  • Phone calls

Persona for a Website Building Company

Busy Small Business Owner

Daryl Robertson

Busy Small Business Owner Daryl Robertson

Image via Flickr by ThoroughlyReviewed

Demographic
Male
35 years
Single
Small business owner
$60,000/year
Intelligent, hardworking, business-oriented

Bio

Daryl is a hardworking man who dreamed of owning his own business his entire life. He started his woodworking business seven years ago, and he is looking to do some rebranding. The first thing on his list is getting a new website for his business. Since most of his free time is dedicated to his business, Daryl is looking for a website company that can get the job done fast.

He is a very hands-on client who wants updates throughout the entire design process. His friends tell him he needs to relax more, but he knows if he wants his business to be successful, he needs to be as productive as possible.

Goals

  • Find a website that can showcase his products.
  • Create a better work-life balance.
  • Hire his first employee.

Motivations

  • A simple CMS to upload pictures of new products
  • An easy online shopping experience for his customers
  • Fast loading times on mobile devices

Frustrations

  • Poor customer service
  • Inefficient processes causing him to miss deadlines
  • Pixilated images on his website

Brands

  • Etsy
  • Wix
  • eBay

Preferred Channels

  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn

Persona for a Retail Store

Fashionable Gen Z Shopper

Alexa Walters

Fashionable Gen Z Shopper Alexa Walters
Image via Flickr by Ciokka

Demographic
Female
15 years
Single
Student
Spare babysitting money
Stylish, knowledgeable of trends, personable

Bio

Alexa is known as one of the most stylish people in her grade. She babysits once a week, putting away part of her earnings for college, and the rest she spends quickly. Her hobbies include posting her outfits to Instagram, shopping with friends, and visiting art galleries. She is planning to start her own fashion blog where she can share her love of fashion with others.

Alexa is enrolled in as many art classes as possible and hopes to attend design school after high school. Once she turns 16, she will look for jobs in retail.

Goals

  • Get 10k followers on Instagram.
  • Partner with brands for her fashion blog.
  • Show her peers her artistic side.

Motivations

  • Easy online shopping
  • Stores that have an Instagram presence
  • Eye-catching products

Frustrations

  • When items are out of stock
  • When she can’t find her size in store
  • Online ordering that has too many steps

Brands

  • Urban Outfitters
  • Poshmark
  • Madewell

Preferred Channels

  • Instagram
  • YouTube
  • Text message

As you can see, a lot of work goes into creating good personas that are useful for your team. By being thoughtful about who is using your products and services, you can create better UX designs.

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