How to Create User Personas That Lead to Better Products
To help you set your product or service up for success, this article will show you what user personas are, why they are important, how to make them, and some common mistakes to avoid.
What are user personas?
User personas, also known as buyer personas or customer personas, are fictional representations of your ideal customers. They are archetypal characters created to represent different segments of your target audience. User personas are based on real data and research about your customers.
User personas help you understand and empathize with your customers on a deeper level. By creating detailed personas, you can gain insights into your customers' needs, preferences, and expectations. This information allows you to tailor your products, services, and marketing strategies to better meet the specific needs of each persona.
Why are user personas important for businesses?
To answer the question of why user personas are important for businesses, let's divide the answer into five parts.
1. User personas help you create the right product development strategy
User personas help you define the right product development strategy in order to create the best product or service that contributes the right value proposition to serve your users’ needs. Moreover, knowing your customers' needs helps you reduce the time you otherwise would have wasted on long meetings about what features to include in the product or service.
2. User personas help you reflect on whether your business is on track
User personas also act as a mirror. They help you know whether your business is going in the right direction with the goals you have set. They also confirm whether or not the design and development of your product or service are serving your product development objectives and meeting your customers’ needs and expectations.
3. User personas make it easier to create product roadmaps
Planning your product or service’s direction is also more effective with good user personas. User personas let you know right from the start what aspects of your product you should be developing now and in the future.
4. User personas help boost user engagement and your ROI
Personas can help increase user engagement. That's because a product or service developed using the right information provided by user personas can create a user-friendly impression on the target audience.
A good user experience leads to a good brand reputation that will naturally help you expand your customer base and increase your return on investment (ROI).
5. User personas help align you and your team
User personas act as an bridge between you and your customers, as well as between designers and developers. Since personas contain information about customers' needs and problems, they also provide a compass for product development, so that when misunderstandings arise, everyone can revisit the personas.
“Having a clear persona shows that a business product has a clear market position.”
Nichakorn Nutcharoen, UX researcher
What is the best way to group users?
Before you create your user personas, you should know this: accurate personas aren't made by grouping people with similar profiles, such as by gender, age, education, and financial status. Instead, customers are best grouped based on their answers to these questions around their goals, behaviors, and pain points.
Goals: What do your customers want to achieve with your products and services?
Behaviors: How do your customers typically interact with your products and services?
Pain points: What difficulties do your customers experience when using your products or services? How can you assist them in resolving these issues?
Grouping customers based on these questions will allow you to create personas that truly represent your users, which will increase the chances that your product meets its business goals.
How can I create a user persona?
You’ve probably read articles about personas that explain that personas can be created by using research data, by making assumptions based on the original customer base, or according to new target groups that will be used for product development. But actually knowing how to create a user persona doesn’t always come like this.
Instead, effective user personas are created by answering the following questions and taking the following steps.
1. What product or service are you creating?
Knowing whether you're going to make a banking application, an e-commerce platform, or anything else, greatly affects your user personas.
2. Is your product or service already on the market?
Looking at existing products can provide you with useful information and determine whether you have to start your research from scratch.
3. Who are your target users?
Find out who your customer segment is. What kind of lifestyle do they have? This will help set the direction of your product development.
4. Conducting user research
Conduct UX research to find representative samples of personas that match the product. Usability testing, user interviews, contextual inquiries, focus groups, and gorilla testing are required to collect data and observe actual behavior.
5. Analyzing data from users
Analyze data from the behavior of real users, such as what they like about certain aspects of your product or problems that they may have encountered with it. For example, knowing what problems they have with a user onboarding page will help you better understand how people use your app.
6. Creating a user persona
Create a profile of the sample by using the data obtained from your analysis to create personas to use in the development of products and services.
“Often product development problems are caused by not creating a user persona right, which actually has to start before product development.”
Natnicha Jumnongjit, UX researcher
Common user persona mistakes
Following the steps above, will set you on the way to creating excellent user personas. Yet, it is easy to make mistakes when making personas. Some common ones include:
Only looking at demographics: Creating a good user persona based on only demographics such as gender, age, education, status, income, as well as the products and services that your target audience use, is not enough. You must also take into account users' goals, behaviors, and pain points, which can only come from real user data. This will help you create a persona that best matches the product or services you are developing.
Creating personas based on assumptions: Most people have a tendency to create personas based on their own fictitious assumptions. These assumptions are often just self-conceptions and not based in actual reality.
Not doing research: Another common mistake or misconception around about user personas is that you don’t need to do any research or validation to create one. The truth is that you must undergo both of these to help you achieve your business goals.
“Most people misunderstand personas as just a fictitious profile, without the need for research and validation.”
Kun Wattanayothin, UX research Manager
The right personas can help lead your business to success
By now, you should have a good idea of what user personas are and how to make them. In sum, with good user personas:
Your products and services will meet the needs of your users by providing the best user experience, which will ultimately help you meet your business goals.
You'll reduce product development time and excessive spending since you'll be able to effectively determine your future development plans.
Your product or service's conversion rates will increase because having the right personas helps keep customers happy, active, and engaged.
Do you need help creating good user personas? Our UX research experts here at Morphosis are ready to create impactful personas, and our colleagues can also provide related services in UX/UI design, product development, digital marketing, and more.
Contact us for a free consultation.