What Are User Personas and Why Are They Important? | Adobe XD Ideas (2023)

What Are User Personas and Why Are They Important? | Adobe XD Ideas (1)

You’ve likely heard the term user personabefore, especially if you’ve worked in user experience design. User personasare a commonly used tool in UX design. At their core, personas are aboutcreating products with a specific, not generic, user in mind. The usefulness ofpersonas in defining and designing digital products has become more widelyaccepted in the last few years. Properly used, this tool can supercharge adesigner’s work.

In this article, we’ll talk about theimportance of personas, and how to create one.

What is a user persona?

User personas are archetypical users whosegoals and characteristics represent the needs of a larger group of users.Usually, a persona is presented in a one or two-page document (like the one youcan see in the example below). Such 1–2-page descriptions include behaviorpatterns, goals, skills, attitudes, and background information, as well as theenvironment in which a persona operates. Designers usually create user personatemplate templates, which include a few fictional personal details to make thepersona a realistic character (e.g. quotes of real users), as well ascontext-specific details (for example, for a banking app it makes sense toinclude a persona’s financial sophistication and major expenses).

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Why are user personas important?

A deep understanding of a target audienceis fundamental to creating exceptional products. User personas help a productteam find the answer to one of their most important questions, “Who are wedesigning for?” By understanding the expectations, concerns, and motivations oftarget users, it’s possible to design a product that will satisfy users’ needsand therefore be successful.

Here are some of the benefits of using personas in the UX design process:

(Video) What is a Persona & Task Flow in UX Design Adobe XD

Build empathy

Empathy is a core value if designers wantto make something that is good for the people who are going to use it. Personashelp designers to create understanding and empathy with the end-users. Thanksto personas designers can:

  • Gain a perspective similar tothe user. Creating user personas can help designers step out of themselves andrecognize that different people have different needs and expectations. Bythinking about the needs of a fictional persona, designers may be better ableto infer what a real person might need.
  • Identify with the user they aredesigning for. The more designers engage with the user personas and see them asreal people, the more likely they will be to consider them during the designprocess and want to create the best product for them.
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Provide direction for making design decisions

User personas help designers shape product strategy and accompany during the usability testing sessions. A deep understanding of user behavior and needs makes it possible to define who a product is being created for and what is necessary or unnecessary for them from a user-centered point of view. This allows product teams to prioritize feature requests (for example, features can be prioritized based on how well they address the needs of a primary persona). They can also help settle arguments around design decisions – instead of saying, “I think the ‘Send’ button is too small,” a designer might say, “Since our primary persona, Carolyn, always use mobile on a go, we need to design bigger tap targets in our app to minimize the interaction cost.”

User personas also help prevent commondesign pitfalls:

  • Self-referential design. Thishappens when designers design as if they are making the product only forthemselves, when in fact the target audience is quite unlike them.
  • Design for elastic users. Anelastic user is a generic user which means different things to differentpeople. Designing for an “elastic user” happens when product decisions are madeby different stakeholders who may define the ‘user’ according to theirconvenience.

It’s worth mentioning that although userpersonas can help designers prioritize the features, they can’t be used as theonly tool for prioritization; the needs and goals of the business itself shouldbe also considered. UX designers should find a proper balance between both theneeds of the business and users to create a harmonious solution.

Communicate research findings

Most designers work in multidisciplinaryteams that have team members with varying expertise, experience, and points ofview. All team members should be on the same page in terms of design decisions.Personas encapsulate the most critical information about users in a way thatall team members and stakeholders can understand and relate to.

Characteristics of a good persona

While it’s easy to select a set of usercharacteristics and call it a persona, it’s hard to create user personas thatare truly effective design and communication tools.

Here are a few characteristics of a goodpersona:

  1. Personas aren’t fictional guesses at what a target user thinks. Every aspect of a persona’s description should be tied back to real data (observed and researched).
  2. Personas reflect real user patterns, not different user roles. Personas aren’t a reflection of roles within a system.
  3. A persona focuses on the current state (how users interact with a product), not the future (how users will interact with a product).
  4. A persona is context-specific (it’s focused on the behaviors and goals related to the specific domain of a product).

Creating user personas in design process

The research that goes into forming user personas usually happens early in the design process. In the Design Thinking process, designers often start creating personas during the second phase, the Define phase. Like most design elements, personas can be developed iteratively. Personas will be used during all later phases of a design process to inform design decisions made by the team.

(Video) Design a USER PERSONA in 6 Steps with Adobe Xd // Website Discovery

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5 Steps to creating user personas

Personas can be created in a myriad of ways— it all depends on budget, type of a project and the type of data designersare able to collect. While detailed step-by-step instructions on how to createa persona are beyond the scope of this article, it’s still possible to providea general flow on how to do it:

1. Collect the information about your users

The first step is to conduct user research to understand the target audience’s mindsets, motivations, and behaviors. The most accurate personas are based on actual field research — they are distilled from in-depth user interviews and observation data of real users. It’s essential to collect as much information and knowledge about users as possible by interviewing and/or observing a sufficient number of people who represent a target audience. The more a researcher observes and captures during these interviews, the more realistic the persona will be.

In a case when it’s impossible tointerview/observe real individuals — time and money don’t allow for the userresearch needed to define accurate personas — it’s still possible to create apersona based on what the team knows about users. If your product is availableon the market and has real users, you can rely on customer support logs and webanalytics to create a persona. A persona created using this approach is known asa provisional persona, and is a great placeholder until real personas arecreated.

During this step, it is very important toavoid generating user personas of stereotypical users (users that don’t haveany relation to the actual user’s reality). Completely fictional stories ofimaginary people based on little or no research bring no value for the designprocess and in fact, can bring harm. Furthermore, poorly constructed personascan easily undermine the credibility of this technique.

2. Identify behavioral patterns from research data

The next step is analyzing research findings. The goal during this step is to find patterns in user research data that make it possible to group similar people together into types of users. There’s a simple strategy suggested by Kim Goodwin:

  • Once the research is finished,list all of the behavioral variables (i.e. ways in which users’ behaviordiffered).
  • Map each interviewee (or real-lifeuser attributes) against the appropriate set of variables.
  • Identify trends (find a set ofpeople clustering across six or eight variables). These grouping trends willthen form the basis of each persona.

3. Create personas and prioritize them

Next, it’s important to assemble a persona’s descriptions around behavioral patterns. The researcher’s task here is to describe each persona in such a way that expresses enough understanding and empathy to understand the users. During this step, it’s best to avoid the temptation to add a lot of personal details: one or two bits of personality can bring a persona to life, but too many details will be distracting and will make the persona less credible as an analytical tool. Don Norman put it this way: “[personas] only need to be realistic, not real, not necessarily even accurate (as long as they accurately characterize the user base).”

Quite often, researchers create more than one persona for each product. Most interactive products have multiple audience user segments which is why it seems logical to construct multiple personas. However, with too many personas, the process can get out of hand. The personas can simply blur together. That’s why during this step it’s also important to minimize the number of user personas, so it’s possible to focus on design—and this may guarantee better success. While there’s no magic number, as a rule of thumb, three or four personas are enough for most projects.

Tip: If you have more than one persona it’s good to define the primary persona (the most relevant) and follow the rule “design for the primary – accommodate the secondary.” Design decisions should be made with the primary persona in mind and then tested (through a thought experiment) against the secondary personas.

(Video) User Experience Design: Personas

4. Find scenario(s) of interaction and create user personas UX documentation

Personas have no value in and ofthemselves. They become valuable only when they tied up to a scenario. Ascenario is an imagined situation that describes how a persona would interactwith a product in a particular context to achieve its end goal(s). Scenarioshelp designers understand the main user flows – by pairing the user personaswith the scenarios, designers gather requirements, and from those requirements,they create design solutions. Scenarios should be written from the persona’sperspective, usually at a high level, and articulate use cases that will likelyhappen.

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Generally, when creating a user personatemplate you should include the following information:

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

A great tool that will help you during this step is the Persona Creation and Usage Toolkit developed by George Olsen. George has developed a comprehensive list of all the factors that can be considered for the persona description.

Tip: Avoid using real names or details of research participants or people you know. This can bias the objectivity of your user personas (you’ll focus on design for this person, rather than a group of people with similar characteristics).

5. Share your findings and obtain acceptance from the team

Socializing personas among stakeholders arecritical in moving the design team toward action. All team members andstakeholders should have a positive association with personas and see the valuein them. As people become familiar with the personas, they start talking aboutthem as if they were actual people. A well-constructed persona almost becomesanother member of the team.

Tip: Usually, having posters, cards, action figures, and other real, physical objects is more effective to communicate personas and helps keep them top of mind versus having a digital version, like a doc file or PowerPoint presentation.

Conclusion

Personas are powerful tools. Done properlyuser personas make the design process at hand less complex — they guide theideation processes and help designers to achieve the goal of creating a good UXfor the target users. Thanks to personas, designers are able to work moremindful by keeping the real user at the heart of everything they do.

User Research

(Video) Про персоны пользователей (user personas) в диджитал-продуктах
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Words by
Patrick Faller

Patrick is a writer, editor, and award-winning journalist specializing in articles, blog posts, and videos that support creative tools. At the helm of his own agency, he creates and coordinates content, community, and communications in the technology, design, and video game sectors.

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