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How to Create Personas to Improve Your Mobile App or Web Site

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How to Create Personas to Improve Your Mobile App or Website

If you are not familiar with them, personas are fictional characters that you develop based on research that represent the different customer types that buy from your business. Personas help you understand your users’ needs, limitations, purchase behavior and goals. By utilizing personas in your design process it helps you put your own thoughts and feelings aside and focus on the needs and expectations of these different customer groups.

Personas can help you to identify with the users you are designing the mobile app or website for and create a positive user experience for them. Just to be clear, personas do not describe real people; they are based on data collected regarding your customer base and allow you to humanize the hard data from your research. The persona profiles of typical customers help you understand the patterns that emerge from research data.

When developing personas, there are several questions that you will want to ask. Start by reviewing the process that customers utilize to not only purchase your product but how they interact with it after the purchase. What are their objectives interacting with your product? By evaluating their goals it adds life to the analysis.

While personas are generally data-driven, you will want to incorporate data that is both qualitative and quantitative. Consider where the product will be used and its purpose to the user.  Listening to user stories can help provide valuable insight. By developing an understanding of customers and their process, it helps create a realistic description of your users.

How to Create Personas to Improve Your Mobile App or Website

During customer interviews seek to uncover the emotions of the user, along with their backgrounds and other information that is relevant. These stories can help create personas that are engaging and more like real people. While personas may not be completely accurate, you can use them as a sketch of your customers’ needs. They are perfect for early phases of UX design and can be revised as you gather new information.

Data collection and analysis

Start the process by collecting as much information as possible about your customers. This should include user research of actual customers. Personas will vary from business to business and you will find that a persona that you create for your business will most likely be different than the personas we have created for ours.

An excellent place to start is by checking your web site’s analytics. Where do your visitors come from? What keywords did they use to find you? Data like this can help reveal what led your audience to your website, as well as how they got there.

After analyzing sources of quantitative data such as analytics and customer records, take the time to ask your customers questions. Surveys and interviews are an important part of building useful personas. These interviews can reveal insights into your customers that are invaluable. With interviews you have the opportunity uncover their goals, needs, limitations, pain points and more.

Try to drill down and find out who your customers really are. What are their hobbies? What is their level of computer literacy? Where do they read their news? Out of the research, you will be able to form a general idea of who your customers are and potentially how these different groups of customers vary from each other.

Persona development and descriptions

After collecting and analyzing your data, you will be able to decide on the number of personas to create. Often you will be able to create more than one. Keep in mind that the purpose of developing personas is to be able to create solutions based upon the needs and goals of your customers, so you will want to describe each persona in a way that expresses the understanding of your customers. You will want your personas to help create empathy for your customers.

Make sure you include details about your customers that may affect your decision process; this includes knowledge related to interests, goals, needs, limitations, desires, attitudes, behaviors, education and lifestyle. Feel free to add in some fictional personal details to make the persona seem like a more realistic character. Give each of your personas a name and create a 1–2-page description of each persona.

It can be a good idea to design relevant situations or scenarios for your personas. By creating relevant scenarios it can help you develop solutions. Describe specific situations that could lead to the use of your product or service. Place your personas in the specific context of your scenarios and analyze the customer journey that would bring them to your product or service.

Involve a team in the process

While developing your personas, make sure that you are careful to involve as many team members as possible during the development of the personas. Not only will this help obtain acceptance by participants but it will help insure you get multiple viewpoints. Don’t just include members from marketing; try to include team members from customer service and other areas of your business that have interactions with customers. When you work with a team that allows you to incorporate multiple viewpoints that come from different parts of the organization it strengthens your personas.

Make ongoing adjustments

Make sure you plan ahead and revise the descriptions on a regular basis. New information should affect these descriptions for future use. You may even need to rewrite the descriptions or add new personas, perhaps even eliminating outdated personas.

Designing with personas

Once you have created your personas, you will want to consider what each persona is doing and thinking during each phase of the customer journey and create a user interface and user experience that will guide them through. If you provide information that directly speaks to the persona, you will assist customers in reaching their goals

This reduces resistance from customers because you will have provided them with solutions to their problems and answered questions along the way. By doing so you are improving the user experience, providing value, building trust, and most likely, will be rewarded with a new, loyal customer.

Image: Persona word on a sign held by a unique or different person in a group or crowd to illustrate the special needs or background of a customer or targeted audience member


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Samella Garcia works as an Integration Manager for UX Phoenix. She has 8 years’ experience developing mobile applications and web sites that focus on UX. Samella has a passion for user experience projects, coding, digital technology and hiking. http://uxphoenix.com/

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