What is a User Persona?
A user persona is a product and UX term that is commonly used when designing and optimizing products. It is a fictional profile of your users that is created via a long period of researching the market and the existing users.
The main purpose behind creating a user persona is to optimize the user experience for certain user characteristics such as needs, motives, technical background, etc. It is commonly used in product management and UX design both.
A user persona can be fruitful in various instances. First, it can be helpful in creating a vision and representation of the users the product or the service is aimed at. This can help each team of the company optimized their effort accordingly and create a vision to be aligned under. For marketing, it can help create better advertisement campaigns and attract more users, for sales it can help optimize the sales process for more conversion, during the initial product design it could help create a functioning product that would be just what the audience needs. Later in the product roadmap, it could help in making the necessary changes to adapt better to these needs, and for the customer service teams it could help solve the problems of users easily and help them achieve success.
Second, it will help create much better experiences for users, and these days when experience sells, the success metrics will increase. As the business will create a persona based on real users, the users will go through an experience that is suited for them and adopt the product early in their journey.
How to create a User Persona
Creating a user persona starts with weeks of research and later hours of optimization if the best outcome is wanted.
The research part will consist of surveys and 1on1 meetings with the users. Also, the analytics and user behavior tools should be used at this point to help understand how the users utilize the product or the service.
If the product is in the development process, the user persona can be created through these surveys and meetings, and once the minimum viable product is reached, usability testing sessions can help further analyze the interaction of these users with the product.
If the product is already developed, the user persona can be achieved via analyzing the existing users, their interests, motives, behaviors, etc. Meetings and surveys are also required to precisely understand their pain points.
Then, the common behavior patterns and characteristics are highlighted and assembled together to create an overall representations of similar users. There could be several user personas as products have different functions that attract different segments of users.
What is an example of a User Persona
A company provides 2 variety of products, shoes and shoelaces. They require user personas to help them improve the experience of their platform, as many people browse their site and buy, but these sessions are short and end up in the purchase of a single and at most, 2 items. What the company wants to do is to make their platform stick with the user.
They conduct a research on the people that visit their site; where they come from, what they buy, what they browse, where they click are among the questions they are searching the answers for. After their research, they come up with 2 different user personas, the first one is the need-buyer, which refers to the people that only buy a shoe or a shoelace because they are in need of one. These people only buy shoes and shoelaces from time to time and they could not be forced to spend more time in the platform.
The second persona is the collection-buyer. These people are interested in different types of shoes and shoelaces and are actually looking for a platform to easily browse and buy the items they are looking for. If the company optimizes their platform around the first persona, they can have more single-item sales but their session durations decrease and their efforts on creating a platform for people to stay go to waste. If the company optimizes their product around the second persona, their single-item sales decrease, but the session duration of users are increased and overall adoption of their platform improves. They could also create different experiences for these different personas, expanding their audience and maximizing their sales.
A user persona can help businesses optimize their user experience and improve their relationships with their intended audience.