How to create user personas in UX design

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How to create user personas in UX design

The process of creating user personas typically begins early in the design phase with research. Designers often start creating personas during the define phase, which is the second stage of the design thinking process. Like with most design elements, personas can be developed iteratively. They are then used to guide the team’s design decisions in all subsequent stages of the design process. Today we are talking about how to create user personas in UX design. 

Steps to creating user personas

There are many different ways to create personals - it all depends on the project’s budget, nature and the type of data that designers can gather. Below is the general process designers go through when creating user personas.

Step 1: Gather user data

In order to understand the target audience’s mindsets, motivations and behaviours, user research must be done first. The most accurate personas are based on actual field research and derived from in-depth interviews and observation data of real users who represent the target audience. The more a researcher observes and captures during these interviews, the more realistic the persona will be.

In a case when it is not possible to interview/observe individuals due to budget, for example, it is still possible to create a persona based on what the team knows about users. You can build a persona using web analytics and customer support logs if your product is already on the market and has actual users. This type of persona is known as a provisional persona and serves as a placeholder until real personas are created.

Step 2: Identify behavioural patterns

The natural next step is to analyse the research findings. The goal here is to find patterns that make it possible to group similar people into types of users. 

  • Once the research is finished, list all of the behavioural variables.
  • Map each interviewee against the appropriate set of variables.
  • Identify trends that will form the basis of each persona.

Step 3: Create personas

Next, it is important to assemble a persona’s descriptions around the behavioural patterns identified in the previous step. Here, the researcher’s job is to characterise each persona in a way that expresses enough empathy to understand the users. A persona can be brought to life with one or two bits of personality but too many details will be distracting and reduce the persona’s credibility as an analytical tool.

It is common for researchers to create more than one persona for each product. This makes sense because the majority of interactive products have multiple audience user segments. But if there are too many personas, the procedure might become unmanageable and even blend into one another. Because of this, it is crucial to reduce the number of user personas during this phase so that you can concentrate on design, which could lead to greater success.

Step 4: Find scenarios of interaction and create documentation

Personas by themselves have no value. They become valuable only when they are tied up to a scenario. A scenario is a hypothetical situation that explains how a persona would use a product in a specific setting to achieve its desired outcomes. Through the pairing of user personas with scenarios, designers are able to gather requirements and subsequently create design solutions based on a better understanding of the main user flows. Scenarios should be created from the persona’s point of view and explain usage cases that are likely to occur.

The following details should be included when creating a user persona template:

  • Persona name
  • Photo
  • Demographics (gender, age, location, marital status, family)
  • Goals and needs
  • Problems (or “pain points”)
  • Behaviours
  • Bits of personality (e.g. a quote or slogan that captures the personality)

Step 5: Share your findings

Personas that are socialised among stakeholders are essential for motivating the design team to take action. Personas should be positively associated with and valued by all team members and stakeholders. As they get to know them people will start talking about the personas as if they were real people. A strong persona practically becomes an additional team member.

Personas are powerful tools and when done properly can make the design process less complex. They enable designers to work more thoughtfully by putting the real user at the centre of everything they do.

Study UX design at PFH

We appreciate you taking the time to read our blog post on how to create user personas in UX design. If you are thinking about studying abroad and pursuing a career in UX design, take a look at our Master’s degree in User Experience Management & Design.

We have designed this program to help you apply the skills you have acquired with your first university degree in the fields of management, psychology and computer science. Additionally, you will acquire new and interdisciplinary competencies from the fields of psychology, business informatics and business administration, which are necessary later in the field of digital product and service development.

At PFH we make sure you receive a high-quality education while making the most out of your study abroad experience!