User Persona — The “What” and “How”

This is an image showing what a user persona looks like
User Persona Example

While working on a project, it is easy for your thoughts to be scattered all over the place like paperwork on a work desk. Things get all messy upstairs (in your head), you could skip or mix up some vital information or data obtained for the purpose of the project you’re working on. During the process of building something, most especially a digital product, a lot is going on, and it is necessary for a designer’s state of mind to remain focused and organized if maximum result must be achieved.

In this article, I will be sharing with you what will help you narrow your focus and keep your state of mind organized while working on a project.

Here’s what we will discuss;

1. What is a User Persona?

2. How to Create a User Persona

3. Contents of a User Persona

What is a User Persona?

A user persona is a fictional profile or representation of the ideal or targeted users of a product (digital or tangible). To simplify even further, think of a user persona as an identity card but this time not just for one person but for a number of persons with similar characteristics, behavioural patterns, values and personalities (i.e., one identity card for a number of persons). Even simpler, a user persona helps a designer focus on who they are designing for.

Meanwhile, whereas the profile or the identity card (the user persona) is fictional, most of the information contained on it is real data collected or obtained from user research and interviews. For example; John Doe is a product designer working on a project and during his user research, he interviewed five most potential users of his potential product. Say their names were Crystal, Kenneth, Kennedy, Harris and Kimberly. All five of these users love soccer and they would rather view a soccer match at home over Pizza than go out to a viewing centre. Now, instead of drafting different profiles for each of the interviewed users, John doe would create a user persona (one profile) summarizing the fundamental characteristics of all five users (since they’re similar). Then he gives the user persona a fictional name, e.g., “Smith” (Notice: none of the users he interviewed bear the name “Smith”). That way, his focus is narrowed and it feels like he is designing for one user but actually, he is designing for everyone who needs the product.

How to Create a User Persona

First things first. A successful user research and interview makes a good user persona, that is to say, that a user persona is the product of a well-conducted user research and interview. We already established that a user persona is necessary for representing the idea/target user of a certain potential product. However, you can’t possibly represent a type of user group if you don’t know the people you want to represent. Therefore, whereas a user persona would help us draft a summary representation profile of a number of users, user research would help us get to know and meet (in some cases) the users prior to representing them.

Going through the entire process of user research would help you get answers to user-centered questions such as;

1. Who is my ideal user?

2. What are the behavioural patterns of my user?

3. What are their needs and goals?

4. What are their values?

5. What are the pain points (challenges) they are encountering as regards my problem statement? (The problem you intend to solve through your design).

Answers to the above questions would serve as a guide to creating a user persona.

Contents of a User Persona

Whether you draft your user persona yourself (either on paper or with a digital tool) or you make use of ready-made templates online like the ones on Figma’s Figjam or Mirror. Either way, a conventional user persona should contain the details below;

1. Persona Name: A fictional name for identity.

2. Persona Photo: An image just to give a face to the name you created above.

3. Gender: This is dependent on the gender of the photo you use.

4. Age: Must be within the age range of potential users. For instance, if you’re working on a betting website or app, then it’s obvious that the age range of your ideal user must be 18 and above. Therefore, anyone under 18 years of age isn’t supposed to be using your product ideally.

5. Location: You can choose the location of any of the users you interviewed while conducting your user interviews.

6. Marital status: this could be fictional or factual (according to research) depending on the scope of the product you’re designing.

7. Goal and needs: these are excerpts from user research. They’re factual and not fictional

8. Pain points: Challenges your users encounter. This too is also factual and is obtained from user research.

9. Behaviors: factual behavioural patterns obtained from both user research and user interviews.

10. Short personality story: This can be fictional or a fact from one of your interviewed users. It is a brief description or a short bio of your persona.

Conclusion

A user persona is Vital to every design process. It reduces the ambiguity of data and eliminates complexity in information.

Please let me know how much you find this article useful. Thanks for reading.

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