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Learn How to Create Good UX Personas in Simple Steps

What are UX personas, and why do they matter for designers? Learn how to create user personas for your future design projects.

10 min read

It is impossible to create a user-centered design without understanding the users. What makes a design successful is the extent to which the designers understand the target audience and take them into consideration while working on any project. But how does one understand the users? It is not easy to understand people, and it is, indeed, impossible to exactly predict user behavior. There are, however, certain ways in which UI/UX designers can get closer to the target users, understand their needs, and make decisions that would take care of the users’ concerns.

One such way is to create personas. The art of creating user personas, or UX personas, is an essential part of a designer’s job. It will not be wrong to say that creating user personas is a standard practice in the design process, whether you’re working on independent projects or a part of the design team at a UX company. Personas not only help you identify the behavioral patterns of a target user but also ensure a strong relationship with the audience by invoking empathy.

User Personas in UX Design (Wikimedia Commons)

In this article, we introduce the concept of UX personas, their importance in the design process, and the steps you can take to start creating personas.

  1. UX personas definition
  2. Importance of user personas in UX design
  3. Steps to create a useful user persona

Read along as we discuss this highly important aspect of user experience design.

UX Personas Definition

UX personas are known by several different names, such as user personas, buyer personas, or customer personas. The purpose of these and all other personas is essentially to get closer to the audience in as much detail as possible. Personas are considered a tool in UX that help in thoroughly understanding the way users interact with a design and how it impacts their overall experience.

A persona description includes fictional personal details about typical users of a product or service. This can include a number of characteristics, such as age, gender, education, comfort with technology, and the goals while interacting with a design. There is no standard template for creating user personas that can fit the needs of all organizations and all design projects. However, experienced UX designers and researchers have developed certain methodologies that can help streamline the process of creating personas.

User Persona Template (PersonaGenerator)

Before stepping into the process of creating well-defined personas, let’s take a look at the significance of this practice in the field of UI/UX design.

Importance of User Personas in UX Design

Whenever you start a design project, the first thing you need to do is to understand your target audience. This includes conducting market research and talking to the users to understand their needs, but that’s not all. To completely understand the audience, designers have to create detailed UX personas as an essential part of the design process.

UI/UX designers need to be imaginative in a variety of ways, particularly when a new product is being launched. In such cases, designers have to create fictional personas of the target audience that may not yet exist. This helps in getting a better understanding of the users’ needs, wants, pain points, and concerns. These are all the ingredients that a good persona can bring to the table when working on a design project.

The Importance of Creating Personas

Some of the ways in which a user persona can add value to the design process are listed below.

Understanding the audience

There’s nothing more valuable for designers than understanding the audience. This is where user personas can be of great help. A good user persona is one that provides a thorough understanding of the target audience, focusing mainly on their needs and their journey with the product or service under consideration. This helps the designers in focusing on the primary needs of the users and ensuring that the gaps are filled out effectively.

Prioritizing user-centered design

A well-defined user persona is one that creates empathy. This means that the designers are able to relate better to the audience and understand their concerns on a personal level. When the designers see detailed UX personas in front of them, they are able to visualize an actual audience and are, thus, able to focus on making the lives of the audience easy and hassle-free.

Streamlining the design process

User personas bring a structure to the design process. The steps involved in creating personas ensure that the overall goals and objectives of the design are not neglected throughout the process. This also helps in outlining the needs and concerns of the users in a presentable and understandable manner. The documentation then plays a crucial role in creating quality prototypes and design solutions.

Communicating research findings

Personas are aesthetically pleasing to look at and contain a lot of information. Designers can create good personas to summarize all the research findings and communicate them to the decision-makers in a simple and attractive way. Going through long reports and complicated analyses can be confusing for everyone but looking at personas with infographics and visualizations makes the process easier than ever.

Steps to Create a Useful User Persona

The task of creating new personas can always appear daunting at first. However, there are certain strategies that UI/UX designers can adopt to make the process simple and fruitful at the same time. The steps given below serve as a guide in developing quality user personas. It must be noted that these steps are not set in stone. There is always room for creativity in the design process, and creating personas is no different. Based on the goals of the organization and the nature of the project, the steps can vary.

How to Create User Personas

1. Clarify your goals and objectives

The first step in creating effective personas is to understand your own goals and objectives. This includes a comprehensive analysis of the organization’s goals as well as the purpose of the product or service being designed. The important thing to note is that these goals need to be as clear and unambiguous as possible. Discussions among the members of the design team and between the design team and other relevant stakeholders can help in clarifying the goals.

SMART Goals (Habitica Wiki)

2. Conduct user research

Once you have a good understanding of your goals, the next step is to conduct some user research. This is where you talk to a real person and listen to their concerns with an open mind. User research helps the designers in detaching from the design process and leaving their biases aside. This is extremely important in developing personas that are neutral and user-centered.

3. Identify patterns in the collected data

The data collected as a result of user research serves as the basis for creating personas. However, talking to multiple users can result in a variety of information that may not be structured to fit the design process. It is, therefore, important to identify the dominant patterns in the data gathered via user research. For example, if certain needs are highlighted by a majority of users, these need to be prioritized while creating personas.

4. Categorize the target audience into groups

One user persona can never be enough, especially when you’re working on complicated designs. Additionally, in today’s globalized world, your product or service may be used by different audience groups in varying ways. Categorizing the target audience into various groups based on the similarities in their needs and behavior patterns can help in narrowing the focus of the design.

Group into User Types (Bonneval Sebastien on Unsplash)

5. Prioritize the audience groups

Once the target audience is divided into different groups, the next step is to prioritize these groups. This is where you need to go back to your goals and identify the primary focus of your design. Based on the goals of your project, you can then categorize your audience into primary and secondary groups. The personas then created will help in catering to the needs of the audience, ensuring the right amount of focus on each group.

6. Decide a number of personas

Now that you know how to prioritize your target audience, you can decide the number of personas you need to create. This depends on various factors, including but not limited to the availability of resources, time constraints, and the number of audience groups. Creating one UX persona per audience group is the minimum requirement. If there is a lot of variation within groups, you may have to create multiple personas for each. It is also important to consider primary and secondary personas at this point that can meet the needs and concerns of your audience groups.

7. Add specific details

After deciding the number, you can start focusing on the little details necessary for creating effective user personas. This is where the information gathered via user research comes in handy. Depending on the nature of your product or service, you can focus on the relevant details. For example, if you’re creating a mobile application, you may want to focus on the platform (Android or iOS), the type of devices, and the screen sizes that your audience may use to interact with the app.

8. Prepare scenarios and user journeys

The best way to empathize with the audience is to create real-world scenarios where the users interact with your product or service. This is where creating user journeys and mapping their experiences can be of great help. User personas can be made effective if designed with specific scenarios in mind. This helps in focusing on the needs of the audience at all times instead of using some standards.

9. Create your characters

Once you have understood the real-world scenarios, you can then start creating your characters based on the research conducted until this point. Add as many relevant details to the characters as possible. Remember, these characters are fictional, so it is up to you to give them the features you want. However, these details should not just be added on a whim. Instead, the personas should be derived from the user research, keeping the goals of the design project in mind.

Creating User Personas (HubSpot)

10. Share your findings

After creating the characters, you can then share the findings with the design team and other stakeholders in a presentable manner. This is where some creativity can come in handy. For example, you can create avatars for your personas and add small details along the way. You can also seek help from user persona templates to give a better structure to your findings. The goal here is to make your personas understandable so that even a general audience with no design experience can get a clear idea of the findings.

Conclusion

UX personas are essential for the design process as these not only give a structure to the design process but also help in creating a strong relationship with the target audience. The design of a product or service is successful only when the designers know their audience well and are able to relate to them on a personal level. This is what design thinking is all about, where this understanding makes the users an active part of the design process.

Whether you’re just starting your journey as a UI/UX designer or you’ve been working on professional design projects for quite some time, you will come across personas in every single project. Understanding the process and practicing the creation of user personas can improve the quality of your projects and also add an excellent skill to your portfolio.