DIY for UX Personas

What is a persona ?

It’s an old and significant method based on a user-centered strategy, developed by Alan Cooper in the 1990’s (The inmates are running the Asylum).

Personas are characters created in order to illustrate a user’s profile. They are not real persons because information like name and surname are invented but they must not be fully fictional either. Personas are a model of different users identified from upstream user researches and analysis.

It’s important to highlight this because frequently people are spending time to create personas by themselves but never meet real users. This can’t work because all the information will be imaginary and the end-product will be based on the assumption of one person and not the true user needs.

Why using them ?

All about user-centered design is to remind us that we are not the user. We can’t create a product while completely avoiding real users. If we want to create better product, we have to listen, understand and analyse the people we are creating it for.

When using personas, everyone on the team has a clear image of the end-user and can focus on it. That’s why it’s better to display your personas in the office, where everybody can see them, also monitoring their evolution during the project and above all never forget who they are working for. It will help people take user-centered decisions, not only based on their own feelings.

Moreover, personas is a way to better understand the user. Based on previous researches, this method will give you precious information :

  • Identify the user’s needs based on their behavior, motives, frustrations and goals analysis.
  • Understand user’s bad experiences, identify troubles they have encountered and problems you will have to solve
  • Having a real view of the way users will interact with your product

In the end, personas will help you to limit your team effort to focus on the end-user. You will be able to create a usable product based on their reality.

How to create them ?

Before creating personas, it’s necessary to do some user research. Even if your project is small, or you don’t have a lot of time/budget, you can always find a way to learn about your users, and this investment will not be wasted. A lot of methods exist to collect user’s information like focus groups but also some cheaper and faster ones like online survey or street interviews.

Once the information collected, a specific analysis will help you to draw similar behaviour and synthetise them. Usually, it’s better to create between 4 and 5 personas to have a good overview of the different users group.

Exemple from a B2B medical website project

Persona information

  • Name, Profession, salary, age, location
  • Biography: Allow to understand the user’s behavior observed during researches, create a context
  • Uses and expertise: Help to understand user capacity and background regarding his workplace and technology
  • Motivations: Identify why the user is engaged in the product and name his motivation, expectations or fears about it
  • Frustrations: Understand frustrations the user has to face today through using other market solutions
  • Goals (professional): What is the user’s goal? Why does he have this goal? How it would help him to achieve this goal?