In product design, every choice you make, from product features to the tone of your content, has to answer to your specific users.
This certainly isn’t unique to this field, but it’s especially crucial that product designers have a deep understanding of their audience, since it directly impacts the success of their labor. Along with all other user experience tools, the act of defining users, knowing the advantages and putting them in specific scenarios, plays a key role in product design.
The User Persona
User personas are fictional characters that are based on real users’ data which function as a tool for product designers throughout the process. These personas allow us to know who are we designing for, and answer questions like Who will use our product?, or What are this person’s difficulties and goals?
On the design team at Nolte, the user persona creation process starts with research. In our research activity, we conduct the appropriate user research with methods like interviews, surveys, field studies per product or project.
Guide – Roll up your sleeves
The position of creating user personas should come directly after the completion of successful user research. Once we finalize our user research by leveraging the information from interviews, polls, surveys, analytics, heatmaps, etc., we can start creating user personas. Breaking down our user persona creation steps, here are the steps we follow:
Research – Collect information from all sources.
Identify the most suitable user research methods and conduct them. Create reports from your findings from research and share them with the team.
Tips: Use any tool you’ve got to extract information about current or prospective users. Interviews with stakeholders who possess information about final users (User Experience team, Marketing, Data Analyst, Product Owner, Product Manager, Customer care, etc.) are a valuable resource and should be prioritized in the process.
Commonalities – Search for overlap.
Split interviews and research data into sociodemographic data, motivation, skills and proficiency, personality, and other relevant groups based on your client and area. Do you spot a trend or pattern? What is the most determinant variable? Use this variable to define your groups.
For example, depending on the product, one key variable could be a user’s proficiency on computers, while in another case it may be some lifestyle characteristic. For example, in your research data, you found a pattern that shows 90% of your users live abroad or 95% of them use android-based handheld device…
User Scenarios – Create different situations for your personas.
Use your information from analytics or product-logs and persona motivations, lifestyle, needs, etc. to create “what if” scenarios. Put your personas into different positions in different environments, play with all variables that can happen in real life. Here are two examples of how to think about these scenarios with mobile apps:
For example, let’s say our mobile app is for parents of newborn children, and our persona is a father aged around 35-40. Our scenario could be:
– What if Jonathan is taking care of his baby and needs to access the app? One arm/hand would be busy holding and making sure the baby is safe. How would he interact with our app?
Or another example, let’s say we have a guide app for young outdoorsy people who like camping and hiking. Our persona is age 25, female.
– What if Joanna is in woods with no internet signal. How would she read life-saving information from our app?
After you list out your scenarios, test them to find out possible pain and gain points about your user. What are the major problems and limitations, as well as opportunities for our product? Discuss results and proposal with your team and stakeholders. Do the necessary adjustments.
Caution: Keep persona counts as minimal as possible to retain accuracy. If your product has more than one persona, identify one as the primary.
Designing User Persona Presentations
One major piece of user persona creation is presenting them to the key stakeholders. Creating a clear, attractive slide or two goes a long way in explaining how user personas influenced your design strategy or will influence it moving forward. Even if your initial sketches look confusing, you should put everything together and present it in an eye-catching way. Below, you’ll find a few examples that work for stakeholder presentations:
The headline includes name, portrait, and quote that summarizes what matters most to the persona as it relates to your product. These help in improving persona memorability, keeping your design team focused on the users they are building the product for.
Unlike your persona’s name and portrait, demographics should rely on facts that you achieved from your research.
– Personal Background
This part includes personal matters like age, gender, ethnicity, education, family status, persona group (working college students), etc.
– Professional Background
This part includes things about person’s job-related background. Her/His current income, work experience, position, etc.
This part answers questions like Where does he live? What is his social circle? Where does he spend most of his time (work, home, outside, etc)? What technological devices does he have access to?
This part includes our persona’s assumptions, motivations, pain and gain points, intentions and so.
The purpose, or main goal, is the motivating factor that pushes the persona to take action, and answers the question: what does this persona want or need to accomplish by using the product? End goals are the main driving forces of your users and determine what the persona wants or needs to fulfill.
Put your persona into a situation that could happen in real life. Play with circumstances. Refer to above user scenarios.
*Alternatives are in parenthesis
Work in Progress Phase
Paper & Pen – Always a good place to start
Sketch App – Vector-based Mac application for creating visual designs for almost anything in 2D.
Sketch App – (Figma, Photoshop, Illustrator)*
InVision – (Marvel)* Web app to share design to get quick feedback from anyone with an account. Use Craft — plugin for Sketch to expedite your process.
Prepare more than one deliverable to make it accessible. When you are done with your work. Export in PDF and PNG formats along with a link to InVision.
If we are going to present our personas to team members, stakeholders or clients, they should look and sound as good as your final product would be. Above all, your presentation should emphasize:
Clarity – Everything on your deliverable should be clear and comprehensive. It should already answer any questions your client would ask.
Visuality – It should look as good as your final product will look. Branding is key- try to use voice and tone of your client or company. Use high legibility fonts in proper sizes. Be careful with contrast between elements. Apply all basic UX principles to your presentation.
Accessibility – Prepare your deliverable in a common format and avoid using web-based applications like Google Slides. People should be able to access it in any condition, with any device, and during any connection status.
Presenting it to the Client
Make an introduction to user personas
Explain our design activity briefly and tell the client why it is important in our process before diving into the objective.
Clarify the aim of persona creation
Explain each section of the persona. Tell them this is not a real person but a reflection of our user research.
Don’t read. Explain, explain, explain
People know how to read. Instead of reading everything on the slide, make statements and inferences. E.g. our persona is a working mom. So you can make an inference like: “That means our persona is mostly occupied with her work and family and is most likely she is struggling to find free time for herself”.
Speak the truth
It’s not fun to hear, but clients need to know that designers cannot satisfy everyone, and if we want the product to be successful, we should aim to satisfy our personas.
User personas are a key component of product design, and it’s paramount that this research be completed early in the process. By thoroughly determining your client’s ideal user, not only is it more likely that the product will be successful, but it is also the best way to educate your client on your reasoning as you create. Beyond the research, making a great presentation will support the customer relationship, and with our tips, you’re sure to do it well.
Have you created user personas before? Do you have any steps you’d add to the process? I’d love to hear, comment below!
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