If you have spent any time in or around the field of user experience design (UX design) it’s likely that you have come across the term ‘user persona’ before now. However, you may not understand exactly what a user persona is or how they can help your business to create a better user experience for your clients.
A User persona is an archetypal representation of a user group. They have defined characteristics, goals, needs and attitudes which influence their behaviour when interacting with a specific business or service. Personas should be detailed enough to feel like a real person, but also stereotypical enough it can be applied to a section of users, not just an individual.
What information is included in a User persona?
A User Persona is usually presented as a 1 to 2 page document that describes the persona through a number of categories of information. We create each user persona to a specific template in order to create an easy to navigate tool that provides the information we know is most useful.
Information included will be a mix of fictional personal details and details taken from user research, feedback and the specific context of that user. A persona may include a real scenario or testimony from existing service users for example. It may also take note of data from existing analytics, such as what representative percentage of users that persona applies to.
Typical information included in a user persona are:
This would consist of a small fictional bio of the persona including full name, age, race and location, and their employment or role. It may include a title for the archetype, number of children or income and favourite brands. These ‘facts’ are the bare bones of the archetype from which you can start to look at a more detailed biography. It may be that you are also able to clarify what percentage of overall users this archetype represents.
This is a more detailed description of the persona's life. It requires a bit of imagination but will gain more value when laced with data based information about existing user types. This will explain more about the day to day routine of that user, some of their backstory and their likes and dislikes. This helps to flesh out their personality and what drives them in order to establish what they may be hoping to achieve as a user.
A persona will establish a number of needs of that particular user archetype. This is a detailed look at some of the problems facing that user and what help they may be looking for. This may include needs that can’t be met directly by your business, but that's ok. Sometimes acknowledging extra stresses or issues for a user might present opportunities to serve your users later.
For example, acknowledging a user persona has a busy family life with school aged children may inform your decisions to avoid posting at the same time as the school run.
It may be that this section is split into Issues and Goals in order to explore problems and possible solutions, though it’s important to avoid shutting down opportunities for creative problem solving too early on.
This may present itself in the needs section of information building but bares highlight. An essential aspect of generating user personas for digital marketing or web projects is understanding how different users access the various platforms you are exploring. Creating a great User experience and understanding a user journey starts well before the user has reached your page or website. It’s essential to build a picture of what devices are used, aptitude and understanding of the various features and programmes available as well as any potential accessibility needs.
Key to any user experience is the emotions that are associated with the interactions you have. Building emotional associations between your users and your products and services can help you stand out in the crowd. This can be for both good and bad reasons though, so having a clear map of what frustrates or sparks joy in your users helps to avoid future issues or costly complaints.
How do User personas help?
User personas help you create a deeper understanding of your target audience. They help you to tackle the pitfalls of group-think and stop your design team forgetting who they are designing for. By having a clear understanding of your users' concerns, motivations and goals designing a user centred product or service becomes much easier.
They help to build empathy for user groups that are not represented within your design and decision making teams. A good user persona helps designers to consider a different view point and to be wary of pitfalls that would be niche to that specific user group.
User personas also help to show a practical implementation of user research and hard data. By putting a face and personality to any findings that will improve your service or product performance it can help show practical applications of those insights.
One of the real strengths of personas is that you can create a number of them depending on the diversity of your users. This allows you to make sure that you are catering for all needs as much as is possible. Once they are generated they can also be used at every step of the design process to help make sure that you are keeping on track with the user at the centre of your strategy or project.
How can I create a User persona?
It might be that you would like to start using this tool within your own digital marketing strategy or latest web application project. If you are not sure where to start then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us through our contact page. We have an experienced team who can guide you through your project, using our bespoke template to generate a number of personas which help you stay focused on your users.
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