User personas are fictional representations of existing or desired user groups.
They represent the attributes embodied by a type of user, creating a common vocabulary for the project team and facilitating faster discussion and decision making.
A UX persona is specifically focused on the experience that user has online with that organisation and most usually on parts of their web estate. It includes an abbreviated user journey map that touches on behaviours, touch-points, motivations, pain points and emotions.
Personas are used to answer questions about the focus of the project and help avoid adding ‘just in case’ functionality. Our UX persona development is a process that we often include as part of bigger digital projects for our clients. If you’re interested in how to create a UX persona, read on!
Our UX persona process
Step 1: Definition
Defining the objectives of a persona is an essential first step, as the reasons for creating it can guide the persona structure and the information that populates it. The number and types of personas we create are dependent on the groups of users that make up the target audience and their relative importance for our client.
If our client needs help defining the key groups in their audience, we do this in a number of ways: website surveys, interviews with key stakeholders or existing users and customers, ux persona workshops, or social listening to form an understanding of who’s talking about the business, in addition to the more frequent review of existing information and data.
Other steps in the definition are to review any existing personas (as previously mentioned) and host a kick off call with the client to establish what they want for the personas and what is no longer relevant in the existing ones, if relevant. After reviewing the documentation, we supply a report detailing the recommendations for the revised personas which includes a wireframe of the intended persona structure.
- Define the objectives and personas to modify
- Gather and review data on the audience
- Define the persona structure
Step 2: Solution
In order to better understand and recruit the right users, we recommend creating a survey that acts as a screening tool while simultaneously recruiting a user directly from their experience on the website. We create questions that are based on what we know about the user types. This survey can both validate the persona details and uncover any additional ones.
After gathering enough responses to the survey, we use those responses to filter out any users that don’t fit the profile of the personas. In order to complete interviews, it is important to be able to recruit as many as possible. If criteria means that the responses are limited, the progress of the interview task will be slowed or jeopardised so the characteristics of the user types may need to be flexible when recruiting.
The interview script should be focused on the user experience that they have, including any examples that they can remember. The users are told that there are no right or wrong answers and all questions are as open-ended as possible, so that they don’t lead the user.
Once all interviews have been completed, incentives are organised (if applicable) and the findings are reported to the client with recommendations for the information that is added to the persona structure.
- Recruit users
- Interview users
- Report on the findings
- Make recommendations
Step 3: Implementation
This is where the persona comes to life. All of the details and information created in the first three stages are visualised in the form of a poster. This can be printed or shared as a PDF for easy reference.
The final structure of the persona is created and typically our personas include areas such as name, age and role, background story including jobs to be done, a short quote focused on the persona’s key purpose, an abbreviated user journey map and weighting based on the focus of the business.
The implementation stage involves compiling the persona documentations from the solution stage research findings and the agreed persona characteristics from the definition stage. We present the final draft of the personas to the client on a video call so that a member of MiC can provide the rationale behind the specifics in each persona, as well as providing an opportunity for the client to pose any questions they may have.
Iterations of the personas may need to be accommodated according to feedback received on the call or any discussions / comments posed after the presentation has taken place.
- Finalise persona structure
- Create persona documentation
- Present the personas to the client
Step 4: Optimisation
In order to assess the relevance of the personas and to keep them up to date, we recommend testing with a handful of users from each persona type in order to validate the existing details a year or so after they are created. Regularly testing and updating these will mean that less money is spent on big one-off persona projects every 5 years or so.
- Test the persona details