What is it & Why Do It?

Personas are an outline of your target customer(s) representing a characterised view of your customer demographic information, motivations, behaviours and contextual information as well as customer goals and frustrations. This is condensed down into an easily shared one page document that allows your company to focus on user centered strategy, product development, sales and marketing. You can create multiple personas to represent the spectrum of customers throughout your user journeys and multiple touch points.

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Personas help you get down, in an easily digestible form, who your customers are and provides focus for the problems you are trying to solve in their lives. It gives your customers character and is useful when referring back to these personas regularly. Continue to evolve these as you increase your understanding of your customer and their behaviours. They can be a very powerful tool to increase empathy toward your target market for your entire team to leverage.

Who’s involved & what’s the setup?

Ideally it's good to involve a number of people in the creation of personas. It helps consolidate your research into bite size chunks that are easily digested. I recommend creating them in a small team with at least one person per discipline involved. This allows for clear communication across skillsets. As a small team, treat persona creation as a group workshop in a quiet and distraction free environment. Allow for at least 30-40 minutes for each persona type with group discussion. After their creation make sure they are distributed throughout the rest of the team for maximum visibility.


Step-by-step Guide

  • Research using qualitative and quantitative methods into who your target customers are. This can be through internet research, surveys, interviews and observational studies.

  • Cluster your findings into particular persona groups. This will indicate how many customer types you will be creating.

  • Consolidate this research and condense down into patterns and recurring themes per persona type. Highlight areas of particular interest and hidden gems of insight which are most relevant.

  • To create your persona start by focusing on one of your customer types and giving them a name. Then create a visual representation of them. This can be either a drawing or a photo. This helps when referring to the particular customer. It also aids in bringing the character to life and imagining them in their daily context.
  • Add in the demographic information you have collected whilst undertaking your research. What is their average age, gender, status, job/role, personality type and any other relevant information about the person which you think is useful to know. Remember you are allowed to have more than one persona (However, I would suggest no more than 3-4 persona types). The more focused the better!
  • Next, add in a short bio/story of their current lives. Who they are, where they have come from and where are they going. Try and sum up the journey they take on a daily basis. Telling their story really helps put yourself in their shoes.
  • What are the high-level goals or ‘jobs’ that your customer is trying to achieve? List down all the information extracted from your research and distil down to the most prominent of points. Recurring patterns in multiple customers of the same type normally point to these goals.
  • Next, extract all the information you have discovered regarding all the motivations as to why they are trying to achieve the jobs outlined above. What are the things they will gain from solving their problems? What emotional gains do they want to create? What would add pleasure to their experience?
  • Lastly, what are the frustrations they feel in their daily lives when trying to get their goals done? What are the recurring emotions and situations you have observed throughout your research?
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  • Once you have extracted all the information you can from your research try and condense this down, simplifying each section into a manageable overview. Make sure all this information can comfortably fit into your template and be understood from a high level.
  • Repeat this process if you have multiple personas. Refer to and update your persona types regularly as you develop a deeper understanding of your customers. Continue to evolve these characters and cross reference them from continual learning and feedback.


Takeaways

  • Personas are great for creating a shared understanding of your customers motivations, behaviours and contextual information.

  • They help the whole team gain empathy for their goals, pains and gains contributing to a dynamic and effective product development process.

  • You can have multiple persona types but remember not to create too many! (3-4 max).

  • Try and involve multiple disciplines in the persona creation process. It consolidates your research into relatable and shareable characters that can be referenced across the company. Treat as a discovery workshop in a distraction-free environment.

  • Personas do not finish evolving. As you understand your customers more continue to develop your persona types to reflect your understanding.


Download the Persona template