Creating User Personas

Just like marketers have a target audience, UX designers have personas which are essentially descriptions of users, based on research.

When I came across the email below I was surprised to find amongst the UX community that some of us did not fully understand the idea of a persona.

What is a UX persona.

So in answer to the above question, ‘diversity’ is completely dependant on the research you have done rather than something you select for diversity.   Your research should remove all bias that you may have, which is why I love user experience design.  It’s the perfect combination of creativity and analytics.

Personas are NOT:
– Personality types
– Characters in your brand story
– Stereotypes based on your experience
– Concepts or predictions.

They are:
– Descriptions of goals, expectations, motivations and behaviour of real people.  Adding demographics and interests based on your assumptions or research are just a way for us to connect with that user when we might have limited or no data to work with.

Ideally, you would always back your personas with research or data.

A useful persona:

UX personas.

Good user profiles are based on all the research that we’ve done with our existing users through analytics data, focus groups or marketing data we create a profile like the above.  Outlining as much as about our persona and how we can alleviate their frustrations with our product.  Speaking in detail about their current goals and motivations.

Does ‘Money Matthew’ use facebook?  How does he commute?  What is his level of understanding of technology?  This research and understanding of a persona will be the basis for almost everything around your user experience.  When you think about features and problems you will eventually come across, think of the most valuable version of the users you see in real life.  Also remembering that users are not alike!  You will probably have a few different behavioural groups and they all deserve a good profile.

Sharing this user profile to the development team, managers and anyone who works closely with the product will enable you to share a vision for the product and help others understand why it is that you have made certain decisions around the UX of the product or website.

Research on Personas:
We can rely on a few things to create personas.

  1. Target Market
    The demographics we use for a large group of our customers or users will give you a great starting point for selecting someone in your target audience.
  2. Quantitative data
    Tools like google analytics, or analytics tools within CMS systems can provide us with information on our existing user base.
  3. Qualitative data
    Focus groups, card sorting, contextual interviews, first click testing and heuristic (expert) evaluation, A/B testing and surveys.

Your user persona should ideally:
– Represent a major user group for your website
– Express and focus on the major needs and expectations of the most important user groups
– Give a clear picture of the user’s expectations and how they are likely to use the site
– Describe real people and their backgrounds, goals and values.

Enjoy creating your user persona and stay informed.

Tania Richardson web designer.

10+ years as a product designer. Helping start-ups and organisations combine user research and design principals to deliver the best in online experiences.

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