What are and how to create user personas?
Knowing the demands of your users is a crucial step before you start creating a product or services.
We have to take into account what the user, needs are so that the product will fit exceptionally in addressing their pain points.
Users are defined by
- And dissimilar contents.
We must create separate personas before the product or service is designed. Creating users will not enhance the functioning of the product or service in the users’ life, but it will also improve your bottom line.
Now you must be wondering; how will the creation of a user persona improve the bottom line?
As we mentioned in our previous blog, before you can sell any product or service to the target audience, you need to connect with them on a basal emotional level.
So you if you do not know whom you are talking to, then how will you connect with them emotionally?
User personas are the only way to achieve this objective.
The first user persona was created in the 80’s by a software developer called Alan Cooper, and since then they have been used in conceptualizing products for many brands.
The first thing that we need to look at is what constitutes a user persona
What is a user persona?
By definition, a user persona is that single or multiple characters that you create to give an idea of the high portion of the target users of a product or service to meet their pain points.
A lot of quantitative and qualitative research goes into creating personas. Building a persona helps you know exactly whom you are designing for.
This tool is based on a lot of research as we have mentioned in our blog on research.
It is not about a single user, but a bunch of users depending on their age, interest, attitude, behaviors, contents, skills and a lot more, that defines the user.
User personas will differ in the degree of details to be added, depending on the product or service being designed.
In tune with our examples in our web discovery blog, we are going to look at sample user personas for John, who runs a construction company and Mark, who is operating a vocational school.
They operate in B2B and B2C niches respectively, and their user personas are very different as we shall see.
Let us recap a little bit
John is a contractor who is now looking at building commercial property, but will not be involved in their leasing or sale.
He only wants to build and leave it to others to lease or sell the properties.
This means that he is looking for investors, and the user personas are Angel investors and Venture Capitalists.
One the other hand, Mark is running a school where children can come and learn practically, through play, some of the things they learn in class over the last term.
The target user personas, in this case, will be Stay-at-home mums, the so-called soccer mums, and mothers who work in demanding corporate jobs and need their kids to have something to do while they are at work.
B2B User Persona – The contractor
The first potential investor that we shall create a user persona for is the individual investor, who we shall say is an Angel Investor.
John needs to know the pain points of the investor. He needs to know what it will take to convert him into an investor in the business. Here is the sample user persona.
User Persona of a prospective Angel Investor
|Fictional name||Kyle Banks|
|Job Title/ Major Responsibilities||Kyle is an Angel Investor and has a string of residential properties to lease out, but has been thinking of getting into investing in commercial properties.|
· 42 years old
· One daughter and Two sons
· Has a Masters in Business Administration (MBA)
|Goals and Tasks|
Kyle is looking to invest heavily in corporate real estate to build on his other residential real estate portfolio.
He needs to join up with a contractor who will build the properties and he would take them up on completion so as to lease out office space
|How he spends his day|
Investing and taking care of his investment portfolio takes up most of his time.
He has regular meetings with his agents, so he is updated on the status of his properties
He loves playing team sports so will hit the pitch in the evening to let off some steam.
He makes sure he has delegated duties so he can have quality time with family and friends
He spends a lot of time taking meetings and is usually in the office at all times. Sometimes he attends meetings in restaurant or clubs.
He connects to his friends and family over the internet and mobile phone.
|Favorite Quote||“Owning a home is a keystone of wealth… both financial affluence and emotional security”|
|Decision making||Having worked on his own for a long time, he I the sole decision maker. However, he seeks advise from real estate partners in non-competing real estate markets in Europe.|
|Information sources||Organic searches on search engines, events and conferences about real estate, real estate magazines, real estate listings, social media and forums.|
|Challenges faced||Has never invested in commercial property and wants to be sure it is the right path for him.|
|Our goal||To give you the perfect way to enter into commercial real estate industry by offering you shareholder status in the building when it is complete|
|Our solution||To empower you to be a commercial real estate owner, by letting you finance our commercial property construction venture.|
User Persona of a prospective Venture Capitalist
|Fictional name||Lex Ruther|
|Job Title/ Major Responsibilities||Lex is the head of a Private Equity/Venture Capital firm. His portfolio goes into the billions since he has invested heavily in a wide range of companies.|
· 54 years
· One daughter and One son
· Two Grandchildren
· Has a Masters in Civil Engineering
|Goals and Tasks||Lex has been in the Commercial Real Estate industry but is always looking for opportunities to expand his holdings. His keen eye for commercial properties makes it very easy for him to make decisions as long as the deal is good.|
|How he spends his day|
He spends a lot of time in corporate meetings with his partners and people seeking funding for various businesses.
The corporate structure enables him to delegate a lot of responsibilities to other senior officers.
Poring over figures as he tries to decide which businesses to invest in as a venture capitalist.
He also is on the computer a lot of the time using analyzing tools to ensure the right investment is accepted.
|Favorite Quote||“Accounting rules give financial institutions flexibility about when they choose to recognize venture capital profits.”|
|Decision making||He is the chairman of the board of directors and also the CEO of the business. He makes serious decisions, but other are delegated to other officers such as the CFO.|
|Information sources||As a venture capitalist, information comes to him from potential beneficiaries. He also uses organic searches when researching online startups. Conferences and retreats.|
|Challenges faced||Getting to know which businesses to invest in. Too much data comes across his desk for various businesses seeking funding.|
|Our goal||To build a professional and functional experience in the construction industry for profitability of all parties involved.|
|Our solution||Given that construction takes a few months to a few years, we are offering you an opportunity to make quick returns when the building is complete. You may also retain shareholder status and profit from the lease or sale.|
As you can see, the two potential investors are involved in the Real Estate Industry, and are great prospects for John, but they have different pain points and the user personas that have been created will guide the design of the website so it appeals to BOTH of them rather than one or the other.
This is why creating different user personas is crucial to informing the design process.
Going by research, only 44% of B2B vendors actually create user personas, thereby losing out on a large chunk of a market that they could convert.
Now let us look at a scenario where a person is targeting consumers in a B2C situation.
The school principal wants to increase attendance to the school.
It is a different school, so he has to use a different approach to attracting parents to bring their children to the school.
Here are sample user personas that he should create.
User Persona for a Stay-at-home Mum
|Fictional name||Mum Sarah|
|Job Title/ Major Responsibilities||Sarah is a stay-at-home mum and blogger, who juggles taking care of the kids, taking care of the home chores and duties, and making sure the family has a worm sumptuous dinner waiting for the at the end of the day.|
· 32 years old
· Two sons
· Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism
· Urban Resident
|Goals and Tasks|
Write at least one blog post a day
Manage all household tasks
|How she spends her day|
Wake up and prepare the kids for school, or let them sleep in over the holidays. Breakfast must be ready when they wake up.
See off the hubby who is a corporate guy.
Wake the kids and they have breakfast.
Make sure the kids are in school or otherwise occupied.
Retires to the computer to work on her blog.
Does more chores.
Prepares dinner early.
Goes back to blogging.
Has dinner and sends the kids to bed.
Does final check on blog and then retires to bed with husband.
|Environment||Basically, Sarah is quite busy with taking care of the home and the children. She would love them to be in an environment that will benefit them and she does not have to worry about them. This way she will be able to concentrate more on her blog. Spends the whole day juggling tasks and being in front of the computer.|
|Favorite Quote||“ I wish I had more time to do all what I need to do to feel contented”|
|Decision making||In conjunction with husband|
|Information sources||Organic searches, Social Media, Mainstream Media, and Any information that informs my blog posts.|
|Challenges faced||Finding enough time away from home tasks to write more than a single post a day, perhaps 3 or 4.|
|Our goal||To take the kids off Sarah’s hand so she can finish her chores quickly and then go out to a local coffee shop and then write 3 or 4 amazing blog posts per day.|
|Our solution||We create a school experience that allows children to comfortably and freely explore the learning process through to enable development in ways that are natural to them; parents can then have free time to explore their environments and develop too.|
User Persona for a corporate working mum
|Persona||Corporate Working Mum|
|Fictional name||Anita Chomba|
|Job Title/ Major Responsibilities||Financial Analyst at a huge conglomerate and keeps very late hours. She has to employ house help to take care of the kids and home.|
· 35 years old
· One boy and one girl
· Masters In Business Administration (MBA)
· City Resident
|Goals and Tasks||Improve the financial status of our company by analyzing financial results, identifying trends, monitoring variances and then recommending actions to the senior managers.|
|How she spends her day||Spends most of the day in the office. Gets home too exhausted to even have a special time with the kids whom she finds asleep most of the time.|
|Environment||Anita seems to live in her office and not her home. The pressure of her work can get to her at times.|
|Favorite Quote||“I need to slow down a bit and have time with my children”|
|Decision making||Anita is final decision maker|
|Information sources||Organic searches, financial publications, financial blogs, financial reports and data.|
|Challenges faced||Worrying about how the children are doing at home with the nanny takes Anita’s mind off her work and this causes her to spend more time in the office than she needed to.|
|Our goal||To give the children a learning environment that will give Anita the peace of mind she needs to concentrate on her work so she can finish early and have more time with the kids.|
|Our solution||We let your children learn in a playful environment and you do not have to worry anymore. Finish your work on time, pick them up and go have a fun evening, Every Day!|
The above examples are very simple. At times you have to add more details about the personal life, such as TV shows, hobbies, favorite drink, etc.
According to a case study done by MarketingSherpa, creating user personas had the following value to the companies sampled:
- The length of a visit increased by 900%
- The marketing-generated revenue increased by 171%
- Email open rate increased by 111%
- The number of pages visited increased by 100%
Why is the user persona created?
The research data that accompanies the development of a new product or service is very challenging to handle. The data must inform the design of the product or service from the start to the end.
Using a persona typifies the kind of user whom the product will be ideal for, and this enables designers to identify pin points of the user and address them adequately through the entire design process.
The persona may be fictional, but it addresses very real people.
The creation of a persona will facilitate not only the design process but will also help in building the proper content strategy, design strategy and marketing strategy as well.
It helps designers, content writers and marketers keep the needs of the user in mind at all times.
This allows for creating a product or service that addresses real needs for the real customers being targeted.
Building content, design or marketing plan without a User Persona is just like starting a journey without being sure of your desired destination.
What categories of user persona are there?
User personas are placed in two categories:
Design persona – this term refers to the personas who represent actual end users of a product or service.
You need to group all personas that share common product needs, methods of use, objectives and fondness.
These personas bring forth the actual pain points of the target users and this aids developer to always keep these needs in mind when they are designing to make the products meet the needs effectively.
Imagine if you have different groups of persona then how will you target those people?
We would target them with different landing pages. You cannot sell oranges to people who want apples.
Marketing persona – these are fictional characters who typify customers of a product or a company.
Again we group persona who have common buying habits, visit the same social sites, are in the same age group, and consume the products or services in a similar manner.
Marketing personas are not about the design of a product, but how the product will be marketed to the end user.
LinkedIn is not the best channel to use when you are targeting people aged 15 – 20.
You would get a better conversion rate if you went to channels like Instagram, SnapChat or FaceBook, where they are considered to be “Natives”.
What function do personas achieve and what value do they lend?
- It allows designers to see just how savvy the users will be; will they comprehend the product or service? Knowing users intimately will ultimately help in designing a product or service that they will need more.
- The personas are centered on actual users to be effective. They show the objectives and needs of each user.
This means that the design team will not have to redo any designs that they make since the first iteration will address the needs of the users effectively.
- Personas will inform the design process so that there is no conflict in design. If any does happen, the information of the personas will help the team get back on track.
- Personas help designers to zero down on functions and features that the users need. Without personas, irrelevant functions and features may be designed and yet they will never be used.
- Developers without personas are bound to misunderstand what users want, and come up with a product or service that will not see the light of day among users.
- A Content writer without user personas will have no idea about the content, pitch or tone to be used in a particular article or blog.
A casual language would appeals more for a target audience aged 15 – 20.
A professional, serious tone would be suitable to a target audience aged 25 – 30, and working in a corporate environment.
- Will inform a marketer on whom they are marketing to, where they will be found, what social channels to use and what kind of content will appeal to the persona, whether text, images, audio or video.
So as you can see User Personas act as a stepping stone to content writing, designing and marketing of the website; without these personas you are aiming to reach your goal wearing a blindfold.
How to go about creating user personas
Do credible and detailed research
The first thing is to determine who the actual potential customers or users are. We must now go to the ground and start talking to people and not just use imagines characters.
As we have done this activity in our research phase already and have taken as much detail about work field, age, educational status, and any information that will inform the design of the product or service, we shall not go too deeply into research.
Go out and find your users
The product design team should come up with topics and questions in order to inform the researchers on who they should target when they go out into the field.
The team needs to determine what the user numbers that will be targeted is. Will they interview 100 people or 20?
Building the proposition
The research conclusion will help in finding what is different about the users who have been interviewed.
When you have finished analyzing and documenting the differences, it is time to understand why these differences exist.
This comes in the creation of a proposition or hypothesis of why this is the case.
This will give you a much-refined image of who your real users are and who are not.
Verify your information
This is where you now start having a real picture of the persona that you are building.
You get to know what he now likes or dislike; you get to know the inner pain points that the product or service should address.
You now understand under what circumstances the user will prefer the new product or service that is being designed.
Define the patterns
This is where the team now looks into all the information gathered, and then sees if they have found what they need for a good user persona profile.
This is where they should also consider if there are other users who could have been left out and needed personas created.
Most people advocate for at least 5 to 10 personas, especially for huge products or services that serve a wide range of people.
Now create concrete persona underpinning
Remember that a persona is a model in which product or service designers use to guide them on what issues need to be addressed by the target customer.
In this case, the information gathered may require additional information that the team can add without going back to interview users.
The identity, sex, customs, income, location, pain point, the work that the product will fill in the end; all these can be added to come up with a rounded and concrete user persona.
The user persona has to be taken as an asset that will take part in the content writing, design & marketing process so building a firm foundation at this juncture is crucial.
It would come to finding out what a persona thinks about a certain element in the rest of the web design process.
Create scenarios for the design
This is where the team has to create scenarios in which the persona would end up using the product or service.
How will the user experience be? These scenarios will work out in getting that which is best and this will determine the design path to take.
Now you have all the formation that you need to create a user persona and have reached the foundation stage where the final data is collated.
But that is not the end; you can have great data and end up creating a bad user persona.
Let us look at what makes a good and useful user persona.
The personality of a good user persona
The team needs a credible user persona in order to design a product or service that not only addresses the pain points, but also provide a fantastic user experience that leads to a solution in the process.
With a great persona, the team can easily change tactics should one of the issues about users change since everything is well presented in the persona.
There must also be the requisite tools to create a prototype that can quickly be changed should the need arise. In order to avoid such changes, it is crucial that a great user persona is created before any other work starts.
The user persona and the content creation, web design and marketing teams work together to come up with a product of note and excellence.
Getting to a great user persona, even armed with a lot of data, will still be a challenge. The user persona should:
- Be a realistic representation of the data collected and the conclusions drawn from it.
- Be a representation of the current moods of the interviewees; it should not represent what they would like in the far future.
- Be a realistic model and not an idealistic one. The information on the ground is more important than that which is in the mind
- Bring out the best in the content creation, web design and marketing teams by creating a challenge they must address; the challenge should not be insurmountable.
- Basically help the all collaborating teams to understand the users better.
- Must address the problems of the users. For every problem statement, there must a solution statement in user persona.
Identify the challenges of a user
Each user person has a specific challenge, which may be different with that of another, but can be addressed by the product or service that you are designing or creating.
When creating the user personas, you must be very clear with this aspect.
The user persona has to be relatable, and you have to put a lot of thought into it. There will be a pattern when you collect data from your questionnaire.
Certain pain points will be repeated by more users, and these are the challenges that you have to be clear about.
Define your goals
You need to make sure that your clearly define the goals for each user persona. How do you intend to help these personas that you are going to create; the challenges set out in the step above will define the goals.
You have to be very clear about the goals as you create the user personas.
Offer the user persona a solution
This helps in the refinement of the final project.
You have a set of solutions that are specific to each user persona, so you need to come up with content, design and marketing strategies that will address the challenges and goals set out above.
Takeaway about creating great user personas
One of the most important takeaways about creating user personas is that the team must realize that the persona has limits too.
It is created according to the need of users. It does not reflect the user experience part that pulls users.
This is for the design team to deal with.
If the data is not detailed enough, it can derail the direction of the web design process.
The design team also has the intellect to design user personas based on typical information, especially when they understand the industry well.
For example, a web design company may have a way of creating their own user personas for the user experience part of the final design.
The team has to accumulate as much information from the users.
The number of questions will vary.
Some questionnaires have more than 50 questions, while other have 20.
It all depends on the depth that you are ready to go to, to understand the psychology of the target user.
In the next blog we will now see how this user persona helps us build the right content, design and marketing strategy.