User personas are essential product management tools. These fictional representations of your users help you gain empathy and a better understanding of your target audiences. You can think of them as a visual map of your users’ main characteristics. With user personas it’s easy to relate to your target audiences and ‘put yourself in their shoes’ so that you can build awesome products and cool features that really meet their needs.
A well-built user persona gives you general information about your ideal users. At their most basic, user persona templates include demographics and other information like who your users are, what they do, what they like and dislike and what their pain points are. Other important information deals with their goals and challenges, why they need your product and the drawbacks of the tools they currently use.
The importance of user personas
User personas act as a north star, giving you the context you need to make difficult product decisions. They map out your ideal customer and help you understand how the products and features you’re building can help them.
Understanding what makes your users tick is a critical part of product management. Ongoing research, focus groups, surveys and user interviews empower you to gain deeper understanding about them.
But what do you do with that research once you’ve got it?
Personas are the ultimate way to showcase your hard-won research in an easy to grasp manner. They act as common ground between different departments in your organization, helping you justify and explain your product decisions and prioritize features that meet the needs of your main users. With user personas, your developers can relate to the people they are building features for in a way that simply cannot be achieved with product specs.
4 steps to help you create a user person
- Start with what you know, and what you’d like to know
The best way to get started is to jot down everything you already know about your users. If you’re working on a feature for an existing product, you may already have access to tons of real data. If it’s a new product with no real users, you’re going to have to make some assumptions. Just as important — if not more — is writing down the type of information that you want confirmed by real users.
- Research with user surveys
Jot down a list of questions you’d like answered by your users based on the assumptions from Step 1. Mix general questions that give you a better understanding of who your users are with specific product-oriented questions that offer insight into their preferred functionalities. Combine different answer formats like multiple-choice with open-ended questions that let respondents express themselves in their own words. A user’s actual words are worth their weight in gold when it comes to profiling.
There are plenty of options for distributing this survey. If you’re already using Craft.io, you can leverage the feedback portal to get input from your users that you can use to build accurate personas.
You can also try setting up a beta community page on relevant forums or social media pages. Build a dedicated landing page and launch a social media campaign to send your targeted users there. Send out email campaigns targeting your desired user profile, or add a popup to your website or app that links to your survey.
- Sift through the data
Data analysis is a bit like building a puzzle. First you’ve got to get organized before you can start putting the pieces together. A great way to start is to filter by demographics like age or gender. Try to find as many common denominators as possible between your respondents and group their answers together. Another option is to filter by usage type. While some of your users may be on your app every day, others may just use it occasionally.
- Design your personas
Now that you have your data organized by groups, you can start identifying similar trends and demographics. You’ll start getting a clearer picture of who your users are, what they like and what they need from your product. Work with your designers to create an aesthetically pleasing visual representation of your user personas that includes important demographic data and insights about how they use your products.
User Persona Do’s & Dont’s
Always keep in mind that your user persona breakdown is a strategic document that should be easily understood by any stakeholder. Keep it light and focus on the main points, don’t get bogged down in small details.
- Visualize your persona with a real image. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words and many people will innately understand your persona if you’ve got a representative image up.
- Give your personas real names. Remember, the whole point of user personas is to help your team think of your users as real people. Names make a difference and can make your user personas come to life. Choose memorable, believable names so that everyone takes them seriously.
- Leverage real user generated content from support tickets, testimonials or your research as quotes to use in your user persona template. Describing the persona’s frustrations using real words from real users adds authentic emotional impact that is hard to get anywhere else.
- Keep it simple, seriously!
- Invest in their usage habits. If you’re going to focus on anything, focus on how and why and when they use your product or feature.
- Be word heavy. Keep your text down to a minimum and make it scannable by using headlines, bullets and short paragraphs.
- Get carried away with the details. Stay away from irrelevant information that isn’t related to your product. Talk about where they live only if it’s relevant to the product, not as a way to add context.
- Listen to anyone except for your users. Don’t let your boss or other stakeholders try to sway your persona in their direction. Users should be your single source of truth for anything dealing with user personas.
Craft.io’s User Personas
Craft.io empowers you to create agile user personas with predefined, editable categories that you can use to generate your own user personas. Discuss ideas and share personas by tagging subjects and mentioning team members. Easily export your user persona template to share with internal and external stakeholders outside of Craft.io.
With Craft.io, you can connect your user personas directly to roadmap items so that the whole team is aligned around who will be using the fruits of their efforts and how it will help them. By adding this important context to your team’s work they’ll have a clearer view of the bigger picture and will be able to deliver better products.
To get you started on the right foot, you can download Craft.io’s free user persona template. If you’re looking for something else, check out our friends at UXPlanet. They’ve put together a comprehensive list of user persona templates from different companies and industries.