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Blog > UX design > What Is & How to Create Perfect Personas Step by Step

What Is & How to Create Perfect Personas Step by Step

2017-05-05
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Personas are widely used by designers and product managers to model the major audiences of a website/app and study their real needs so as to create a perfect UX. Creating a persona has become an indispensable step before any product design and release.

However, not all designers and product managers know user personas well. Some design newbies may not even understand the basic meaning of a user persona, let alone know how to get started with a persona quickly.

In this article, we will explain what a user persona is, why it is so important, and introduce you how to create a perfect persona step by step.

What is a persona?

Persona, referring to user persona on websites and apps in this article, is an intelligent way of modeling and summarizing the characteristics of target audiences based on real user data. It is depicted as a defined albeit virtual person that can help designers understand users, their needs, experiences, behaviors, and goals better.

What Is a Persona

In other words, a persona is just like a model or collective image of your website audience. It enables you to simulate what real users will do while using your products, what they like and dislike, what user flows they will follow, etc. It helps you think and design from the standpoint of real users. 

Why do you need a persona?

Personas play a very important role in helping designers and product managers create a successful product.

Here are the main benefits that a user persona can bring:

1. It helps you know the audience better

To define a user persona accurately, you and your product team should often do user research and analyze the user data to know their needs clearly. This enables you to know your audience better.

2. It helps you communicate and cooperate better

Additionally, well-defined user personas will help you specify and communicate user needs with your product team better. It serves as an efficient tool for you and your team to communicate and collaborate faster and more easily. 

User Persona Helps Communicate Better

3. It influences product features, user flows, and other aspects

After determining the real needs of different user groups, you and your team may need to adjust the product features, user flows, and other aspects to meet their needs. That's exactly one of the basic benefits that a user persona brings.

4. It affects marketing strategies

These days, some design teams or companies also develop their marketing strategies based on user personas.

5. It helps test and evaluate products before release

An accurate user persona also helps test and evaluate whether a product is really helpful for users before release.

In short, user personas influence many aspects of your website or mobile app and help make smart decisions and strategies faster and more easily. They will help you create a useful, successful product smoothly.

How to create a user persona step by step

Now that you understand just how important a user persona is, let us show you how to create accurate user personas step by step.

Step 1. Conduct user research

A helpful user persona relies on the analysis and summary of a large amount of user data. Real data and not just coming from someone’s imagination. So, the first step you should take is to conduct user research and collect user information as much as possible.

There are many ways you can collect real user data:

  • User interviews
  • Website observation & monitorization
  • User questionnaires & surveys
  • User or product reports
  • Collect and use whatever info that you can and already have on hand to analyze your audience.

Step 2. Segment your audience

The audience of a website or mobile app is often complicated and consists of many groups. To define a perfect user persona, after collecting enough user data, you should then analyze the data carefully and then segment your audiences according to their backgrounds, behaviors, goals, and other relevant information.

Take Mockplus as An Example

Take the Mockplus as an example. After researching the audience carefully, you may find that several groups of people - such as UI/UX designers, product managers, developers, interaction designers, and the like - may show great interest in collaboration tools. To create a better user persona, you can simply adopt these categories and segment the audience based on their occupations. Of course, you can choose two, three, or more standards to group your audience to enhance UX.

Step 3. Create a persona

When you’re done with user research and audience segmentation, it is finally time to create a persona. Here are several tips to help you get started on personas quickly:

1. Start with basic user persona information

We've mentioned above, a persona is a collective image of your target audience. So, when it comes to creating personas, the first thing you should do is to start with the most basic information, such as:

Name. You should first give them a name to create a more realistic user persona. It can be a real customer name or just a typical, descriptive name of a user group.

Photo. You should then put a face to that name for better identification and communication.

Bio. Also, give them backstories to make them feel like real persons.

Demographics: You should still add demographic information, such as age, sex, income, location, job title, and so on. Such information will help you and your team identify this user group from others easily.

Motivation. This will help you know how your audience thinks. For example, what makes them choose your product? Will that motivation drives them to buy a product?

Goals and pain points. Their goals and pain points directly show their real needs and leave a big impact on your products and, later on, the decision-making process. So, you should always collect this information based on real user data.

 An Persona Example with Basic Information

There is a lot more information, like preferred brands, tech skills, social media, and daily routine that could be written into a persona. However, it does not mean that all of these should always be included in every user persona.

Only select necessary and helpful information according to your specific design needs.

2. Keep your personas informative and easy to understand

A user persona is created to help you and your team build a better product. So, it should be as informative and as easy to understand as possible for everyone in your team. Follow the tips below to improve your personas:

  • Use clear charts or layouts to display person information
  • Use illustration or visuals to emphasize important information
  • Keep all descriptions simple, short, and easy to understand

Use Illustrations and Visuals to Make Your Personas Stand Out

Image Source

3. Create 3-6 detailed personas to enhance UX

To create a perfect UX, a product usually needs 3-6 user personas to meet the needs of different user groups. So, you should also remember to create 3-6 detailed personas to get started.

Step 4. Define situations and scenarios for your personas

The real purpose of user personas is to help you simulate what the audience will do in real life while using your products. So, once you've created your personas well, the next step is to define the situations and scenarios that they may encounter while using your products.

Let’s take Mockplus as an example once more. After we've created a user persona called Mike (who is a UI designer with 2 years of design experiences), we should define what he will encounter while using Mockplus.

For example:

  • What steps can Mike take if he needs to upload designs from Sketch/XD/PS?
  • What should Mike do if he wants to share designs and collect feedback?
  • What will Mike need to do if he wants to hand off designs to developers?

A lot of situations and scenarios should be defined in advance to help you create a better product based on user personas.

Step 5. Share & iterate with your team

Effective user personas are often not done by only one designer. The collective talents and support of your whole team - or even the whole company - is vital. So, after writing your personas, you should also share and iterate them all with your teams to get a better result.

By doing so, once your team or company is familiar with your user personas, you can get timely updates whenever there are any changes or problems with the target users.

Step 6. Keep testing & adjusting the details

As everyone knows, the needs of audiences are changing all the time. To create a perfect product, user personas should also be tested and adjusted correspondingly all the time.

These are all steps that you can follow to create a perfect user persona.

However, if this text tutorial is not enough, you can watch the video tutorial below:

About personas and how to create them (2020)


Best free user persona examples & templates

To help you understand personas better, we've collected 5 of the best user persona examples and templates to help you get started quickly.

1. Free Buyer Persona Example 

 Free Buyer Persona Example

Format: PDF

This example is a user persona made for an email marketing solution. It offers detailed information of the target user group - digital marketing managers. If you are working on a buyer persona, this is a perfect example.

Free download

2. Free User Persona & Scenario Template Bundle

Free User Persona & Scenario Template Bundle

Format: PSD

This template provides a bundle of free user personas and relevant scenarios. All persona examples are created with detailed information, such as age, occupation, locations, bio, user story, and more. The user scenarios will surely hasten your design process effectively.

Free download

3. Free User Persona Template for Sketch & XD

 Free User Persona Template for Sketch & XD

Format: Sketch & Adobe XD

This template contains 3 examples of user personas in both Sketch and XD formats. It is fully editable so that you can freely edit its images, basic background information, about, characteristics, goals, needs, device, frustrations, skills, and many other elements based on your design needs.

Free download

4. User Persona Template Sketch Freebie

User Persona Template Sketch Freebie

Format: Sketch

This template is another good example of user personas. It is about 3MB and you can freely download to check the details at your leisure.

Free download

5. Free User Persona Model Template

Free User Persona Model Template

Format: Sketch

This a well-crafted model user persona with clear layouts and a beautiful outlook. You can freely download to create your own user persona quickly.

Want more? Here are 18 free excellent user persona templates to help you.

Wrap Up

A user persona enables designers and product managers to know their audiences and their needs better. It contributes a lot to helping teams and companies create a great product.

We hope the above explanation and step-by-step guidelines help you understand user personas better and create your own quickly and effectively.

Snow Hu

In-house writer, who loves reading and is enthusiastic about web design. She is always cheerful and never gives up.

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