How To: Create A User Persona

By Xtensio

(This post includes a free tool.)

User Personas represent real, living and breathing people who will engage with your product. While individuals featured on a persona are technically hypothetical, the information on the document should not be hypothetical. All sections must be completed based on fact, hard data, and research. Take a look at our examples and follow along with our free template.

We suggest before completing this template, talk to consumers. Send emails, hop on calls, run surveys and questionnaires. Record and synthesize information. Display what you’ve learned on this document. Yes, this will take effort; it will take digging. But this work is necessary because User Personas, when authentically completed, become go-to documents to ensure every choice resonates with target consumers.

The Basics

Title

The Persona title allows you to easily reference a group of users during discussions. Choose titles wisely. If you give Personas human names, make sure those viewing the documents don’t make generalizations based on names alone. A Persona named “Emily” doesn’t mean all users in that category are female.

If you use titles, make sure they are specific. “The Aspiring Entrepreneur” is too general. Is she a student? An individual with a passion project? Before settling on a title, closely consider the message it sends audiences and the information it conveys.

Image

Don’t forget to upload one! Give your persona a face that reflects the descriptions used throughout the template. If possible, use a photo of a real consumer, not a cheesy, easily identifiable stock image.

Show the individual in a space that gives insight into where your product fits into his/her life. A UX/UI designer might be in a studio, a student in a classroom, a part time dad at his home office.

Quote

Capture the Persona’s attitude towards your product or service. Why is he or she interested in what you’re offering? What type of solutions is she looking for? What matters most to him?

Use real quotes or comments acquired from customer interviews, surveys or questionnaires.

Demographics

This section gives viewers quick insight into Personas’ background, lifestyle, and behavioral practices. Information should reflect trends from interviews, questionnaires, or surveys.

A quick way to find statistics on consumer demographics is by using Google Analytics. Collect data on the origin, age, and marital status of those currently visiting your site.

Character (Archetypes & Tier)

Archetypes are widely understood identities that characterize an individual’s personality, motivations, and goals. Careful not to undermine Personas by using jargon like “visionary” or “radical” without going into detail about what exactly these words imply.

Continue asking questions. Why are these individuals considered visionaries, how do they want to use your product? You don’t need paragraphs detailing user archetypes, but make sure you have the answers on file. Still unclear about archetypes? Here are 12 common archetypes to prompt your definition of those using your product.

Tiers is one of the most important sections when it comes to defining a Persona. Tiers indicate levels of engagement users have with your product, or where they fall on the adoption curve. For example, the “tier” option can range from ‘first-time users’ all the way to ‘late adopters.’ If you’re building an industry specific product, your tiers can be ‘professionals’, ‘prosumers’, or ‘enthusiasts.’ Tiers can also refer to users’ level of commitment to your product—free users, paid users, or enterprise users.

We recommend making a different persona to represent each varying tier. Many product design and marketing decisions will come down to which tier of users you are prioritizing.

Personality

Who is your user? Indicate her KEY personality traits and help round out her overall image.

Originally, the personality section of this persona was based off the Myers Briggs personality test. According to the Myers Briggs, there are 16 potential user personality types. Our template integrates questions from the Myers Briggs personality test into a series of sliding bar graphics. If you’re confused as to what the sliders means, check out the Myers Briggs basics article. It will help identify and provide more information on each bar. If you don’t how to place the sliders, reach out to consumers – are they more of an introvert or an extrovert? Do they take time to consider situations or act quickly based on instinct?

The Story

Traits

Describe the Persona in a few words based on their personality, work ethic, motivations, and priorities. Are they an energetic, outgoing self-starter? Or a driven but disorganized introvert? Choose adjectives that help define how this Persona’s personality differs from other users or potential consumers.

Goals

What is your persona looking for in a product? Do they want something that is easy to use? A device or service that achieves a specific goal? (These questions are critical to product development.)

Most Persona goals should be end goals, goals about what the Persona ultimately achieves in using your product or service. This could be something tangible: a beautiful advertisement, a sleek web page. An end goal could also be a more intangible achievement from using a product : increased productivity, greater security. Types of goals to avoid or include on a case by case basis:

1. Tasks. Tasks are items needed to complete in order to accomplish goals.

2. Life goals.  Objectives such as “Retire by age 45,” or “Have a happy marriage”  may be too broad and or irrelevant if you were designing a travel app or business card builder. However, there would be a place for these goals on a Persona created for a financial planning company or online couples’ therapy service.

3. Experience goals describe how personas want to feel when using a product, for example, having fun and feeling relaxed. Not every persona needs experience goals, but in some cases they are useful to include. Perhaps a Persona struggles using Social Media and wants to feel confident when making online profile decisions. Or a persona using an online banking site, for example, might want to feel reassured that his transactions are secure.

Frustrations

What is preventing your persona from achieving his or her goals? What concerns does she have? What are her frustrations with current solutions already available? This section is key when it comes to honing the features and services of your product.

Bio

The bio should be a short paragraph to describe the user journey. It should include some of their history leading up to a current use case. It maybe be helpful to incorporate information listed across the template and add pertinent details that may have been left out. Highlight factors of the user’s personal and of professional life that make this user an ideal customer of your product.

The Final Details

Motivations

What inspires your persona to take action? Is he motivated more by fear or growth? Achievement or power? Use the slider module to shift the ‘virtual percentages’ for each category.

Brands

What are your users’ favorite or most used brands? Display their logos in this section. Some of these featured brands may turn into or already be your competitors! You can find brand images at Brands of the World. Once you have found the brand you are looking for, download the image onto your computer. Next, find the image button on the toolbar located to the left and upload the image. Finally, resize the image to fit it into the section on our template while continuing to add other brand images. If you’re looking to fit more brands on the page, you can list the company names rather than displaying their images.

Preferred Channels

How are you going to reach your target audience? You might not find your grandma on Twitter and you’re sure as not going to find your 12 year old nephew reading the Wall Street Journal. If your audience is a tech savvy college student, the best way to reach them might be online & social media. A teenager might be better reached through television ads through traditional media. From your research, you should have a good picture of what sort of medium your audience is primarily using or can be found on. We picked four broad categories:

Traditional Ads: television, radio, print, billboards, etc.

Online & Social Media: banner ads, streaming video/audio ads, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.

Referral: recommendations from friends and family, online reviews, influencer blogs, etc.

Guerrilla Efforts & PR: events, experiential marketing, out-of-home advertising, etc.

As you can see these are very broad categories — you could even list all of options if they’re relevant to your consumer.

Bonus Tips

Any section label can be altered to better specify personas. If your product’s use is linked to users’ education, remove ‘archetype’ and rename it ‘education.’ Xtensio has seen consumers revise upwards of 4 titles or remove the labels entirely. You can also change the accent colors of your persona. Choose from Xtensio’s 8 colors or enter your own personal ‘Hex#’ to have the persona better fit your company/product color scheme.

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