Product Managers’ Guide to User Personas

September 22, 2022
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You need to know your product's actual customers to produce user-friendly products. Your customers' requirements, behaviours and ambitions will vary based on how much time you spend talking to them.

In general, you aim to please everyone. But after a new product is launched, will you have the resources to reevaluate all of their opinions? The strategy discussed in this article is practical if your answer is "NO."

Targeting different groups of people is not a new idea. It is common for product managers to segment their clients based on demographics, location, or income. Insights about what these people want or how to deliver the proper messaging may not be gained from this.

It has been argued that quantitative methodologies create Frankenstein-like depictions of clients. So, what do you do if you've gathered all the necessary information yet the puzzle is still unsolvable?

As a first step, you should handle your clients' behaviours and important qualities. 

What is a User Persona? 

A user persona is a fictional representation of the target consumer, with goals that represent the desires of a larger set of users. A user persona is an imagined persona that represents a company's primary client base. 

A user persona is written as if the individual is genuine, but they also reflect common characteristics shared by a group of individuals. They are semi-fictional in the sense that they do not represent a specific person, but their qualities are gleaned from observations of real-world users.

A user persona is created by investigating a target audience's needs, goals, behaviour patterns, abilities, and demographics. A user persona is designed to provide a trustworthy and realistic representation of how a company might expect a group of individuals to interact with a product. 

They depict the complete picture, including some of the shared characteristics shared by all of your users. They guide you through your potential customers and what they find appealing to assist you in achieving fantastic product development and answer your target customer's needs.

Gain a more practical approach to product marketing by familiarising yourself with these buyer profiles. Communicating with your users, collecting demographic and psychographic data, understanding the results, and then taking action are simple ways to develop them. 

With the help of personas, you'll be able to identify the most critical aspects of the individuals who use your product.

To help you remain on track and create stronger products, consider these four benefits of using user personas:

Personas serve as a guide for making design choices

Using user personas, product teams may better understand their customers. Define users' behaviour and needs from a user-centred point of view with a comprehensive understanding of how they use the product and what they need or don't need.

So, product managers may put customer feature requests in order of importance (for example, prioritise features based on how well they address the needs of a primary persona). Rather than saying, "I think the Send button is too small," a designer might add, "Since our key persona, Carl, always uses Macbook on the go, we need to build bigger tap targets in our app to reduce the interaction cost."

As an additional benefit, user personas can assist avoid typical design errors like self-reference design and designing for elastic users. Because they design for themselves alone, this is what occurs when designers create products that are marketed to people who aren't exactly like them.

User personas can assist the product team in prioritising features, but they can't be utilised as the only tool for prioritisation; consider the business's objectives and goals.

Personas aid the product team in discovering new solutions to problems

Users of your product have a deep understanding of the difficulties they're trying to solve, but they may not know the best approach to solve those problems. Instead of becoming order-takers, you may employ user personas to help your product team synthesise the ideas of numerous users into the best answer for a certain situation. 

Personas help you understand and empathise with your customers

If designers want to create something that benefits the people who will use it, they must prioritise empathy as a key principle. Using user personas, product teams can better understand and relate to customers.

The creation of user personas aids the product development team in emulating the viewpoint of end-users. Product teams might benefit from creating user personas to help them move out of their comfort zone and realise that people have varied wants and expectations.

The product team may be better equipped to predict what a real person requires if they consider the needs of a fictional persona. Also, it allows the product team to connect with the people they're designing for.

It is more probable that the product team will consider the user personas during the design process if they see them as genuine individuals and as a source of inspiration. In addition, personas assist you in ensuring that you aren't constructing for your benefit.

Avoid assuming you are your client's exact representation

Your product may seem like a surefire solution if you use it yourself, but this isn't always the case. The use of personas allows you to remove yourself from the situation. It's over now. As someone who would use the product, I believe others will, too.

The product manager Paula requires the product to accomplish “A” based on our research. Therefore we can reason this way. 

What does a User Persona look like?

According to the HubSpot survey, market research and the details about your present customers generate user personas.

Creating a user persona helps you target your marketing, website design, and other corporate operations. This is a great approach to categorise and personalise material for clients and leads.

How do you create a product user persona? Become your ideal customer. Create your identity using market and consumer research.

Persona research can take numerous forms. Include these user persona details: 

Basic information

Your user persona template must include basic information about your user. Some examples of what you'll find are: 

  • Full name
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Image
  • Residence
  • Job designation 
  • Marital status
  • Kids
  • Archetype
  • Short bio
  • Personality map

Your user's basic demographic information, as well as a brief bio, will be included here. The idea is to offer you a brief idea of their personality.

This isn't a place where you're attempting to collect data on every single one of your consumers, of course. That isn't possible. Putting together an archetype of the usual user is all you're doing here. 

Hence, a brief summary for the user, akin to a nickname, should be included in the basic information area. What kind of person are you describing?

If you notice that most of your target audience is made up of people who are constantly on the go yet occasionally sneak a peek at your website, you may want to refer to them as "The Busy Browser."

If you want to reach young people who are still in school, you could also try "The Art Student." What matters most is that it shows your unique archetype.  

Image

As a visual medium, images have the power to convey more information than any written word ever could.

Your persona becomes more relatable when they have a face. You now have a much clearer picture of your designs and goods' potential influence on this individual's life.

Try to capture the age, gender, and personality of your user in the photograph. No, they're just regular customers at a coffee shop. Are they more like a C-Suite executive?

Unsplash is an excellent resource for finding free photographs for your online identity.

You can get the photos you need by searching for terms like "persona" or "descriptors" that describe your user persona. 

Personality

To better understand your user persona, describing or demonstrating their personality is important.

There are different methods to approach this section: 

  • Myers-Briggs: This presents a wonderful opportunity for you to incorporate details about the Myers-Briggs personality type of your persona, which will shed light on how they perceive the world around them.
  • Descriptions: You could even just describe them as they are in actual life if you wanted to. Do you find these amusing? Sarcastic? Ambitious? Who is using your site, and what personality do they have?

X-Y Axis: Where would you place them on the spectrum between introvert and extrovert? Or should I live in luxury? Urban or rural? Simple bullet points can suffice, or if you want, you can use elements like the slider in the example above.

Goals and motivations

In this section, you'll list all of the reasons why your customers would use your product.

A user profile like "I want to raise my salary by 30% in the next three months" is probably not applicable if you're building a fitness solution. Their aim is more likely to say, "I want to run 50k by the end of 2022." Instead.

  • What is driving your user persona at this moment in time?
  • What are the realistic chances that they'll be interested in your product?

You can answer these questions and discover exactly how your design can serve them by discovering what they want to get out of your product or service. 

Pain points

Your target audience's problems should heavily influence your design decisions. This is because they provide specifics on how your product might benefit them.

This, too, should be relevant to your product, as should the objectives section.

What is it that they are unable to do? What causes people to lose their patience to the point that they can't stand it any longer? In what ways would your product or service help them address these concerns?

You might delve further by asking, "What frightens my client?"

You'll be able to begin building solutions for them once you've discovered their fears and frustrations. 

Other things you might include

The possibilities for adding to your user persona template are virtually limitless. You are free to incorporate any information that helps you identify your target audience in your template.

Here are some things to think about: 

  • Channels: These can range from social media platforms and websites to the browsers your users regularly use in their day-to-day lives.
  • Quotations: An excellent chance for you to use the research you conducted (or should have already done). Include a direct quotation from one of the people you spoke with. This can give you a decent understanding of what people are searching for in a product, as well as how you might design it to account for what they want.
  • Favourite brands: Which companies do they adore the most? What do they typically purchase for themselves? Knowing the brands that your customer gravitates toward most often can have a significant impact on the way that you build your product.
  • Favourite books, publications, or blogs. What types of media do your users often consume? What kinds of things do they read most frequently and why? 

Creating your user persona is a one-of-a-kind process tailored to your specific design goals. Don't be concerned if your persona doesn't include an element that another company employs. 

How to create User Personas for your product?

User personas represent the people you wish to reach out to. So, you need to focus on your actual clients rather than your ideal audience during the persona-defining process.

How to create a user persona for your product? Below are the 4 most important steps. 

Step #1 Understand who will use the target product

Because user personas need to be as accurate as possible, it is essential to spend some time gathering as much information as you can about the people you intend to cater to.

  • What exactly is their function?
  • How long have they been working in this particular field?
  • What are their likes and dislikes?

This information assists you in visualising a typical user and looking at your product from the point of view of that user. The particular particulars you need to record will change depending on the sector you work in, the market you sell into, and the kind of goods you sell.

The following is a list of the various kinds of information that may be helpful to collect: 

  • Background information about the user: Location, age, and education are all factors to consider when determining a person's
  • Professional background: Position, salary, qualifications, duties, and previous work experience
  • A look at some of the psychological data: Aspirations, obstacles, and preferences 

Your research can be informed by various methods, including direct user interviews, examining support tickets and talking to teams who engage with users. Develop user profiles by striking a balance between aggregate data and anecdotal evidence. When you employ data from interviews and surveys, as well as market research, to create your user personas, you'll get the most accurate results. 

Step #2 Analyse the data 

This is your chance to shine if you're an expert in product data analysis. Many product managers find it difficult to face what appears to be an insurmountable mountain of data, but there's no need to panic.

  • Organise by demographics: Begin by dividing up your users into different categories. Is the majority of your audience in the same age range as you? In the case of a wide range of demographics, look for patterns in behaviour.
  • Organise by use: Hardcore users and 'hobbyists' will exist for some products. 
  • Users are classified into two groups: those who use your product on a regular basis and those who do so only infrequently. 

Step #3 Build out user template

You are now in a position to begin creating your user personas. To create successful user persona templates, you must connect the persona to a specific business entity.

It's not just a random stock photo with a random company name. Your internal users will be more interested in your project due to their work. You should give each one a name and pick an image to symbolise you.

Then, please provide a summary of their background and preferences that focuses on the essentials. The user persona template for a project manager is clear and concise. ' The vibrant pink contrasts with the sombre grey in the colour narrative.

This template is simple to duplicate and modify if you have many client personas for your company. Use a variety of photographs to make browsing easier. 

User persona template 

User persona template

Step #4 Share with the team

After creating your personas, share them with your organisation's most important stakeholders. The personalities should be accessible to your entire team, whichever you choose. Persona-based planning can help you stay focused on your clients' needs throughout the many stages of product development.

To convey your research about your target clients, personas can be a helpful tool. This serves as a helpful reminder of your product's ultimate goal: to meet the requirements of real people. It's easier to delight your customers when you know exactly who they are and what they want to accomplish with your product. 

How do Product Teams Use Personas?

Developing a particular communication style among product team members allows everyone to focus on the underlying issue. Using a user persona makes it impersonal and unbiased, allowing everyone on the team to care about and prioritise that third person's concerns. Asking 'what would the user persona do?' is an excellent method to assist the product team in realigning and making more decisive decisions.  

Personas for the management team

To create alignment and enhance your chances of success in the market, a vital best practice and first step is for your product team to collaborate regularly to generate a common consumer understanding through user personas.

Multiple formulation, go-to-map (GTM) strategies and product roadmap strategies are used by the management team to understand and learn about the user persona. In this way the user persona needs are addressed today and in the future with the briefings to take interconnectivity to the next level.

This helps the management team in improving the precision with which they further develop products and create brand stories. 

Personas for the design and development team

Personas also help the product design and development team focus on strategies, like determining which feature requests are the most important. It helps get the results of user research out there.

Why?

Because designers, developers, and other people who work on a product together as a team. Everyone has a different background, area of expertise, and point of view. But when making decisions as a team, everyone has to agree.

This is where personas come in to help them see things from the same point of view and understand each other or even the stakeholder. Then, how does the team in charge of design and development define a persona?

To build a well-defined persona, they must first understand the 4 keys to information:

  • Header, which has a made-up name, picture, and quotes that sum up what the character cares about most concerning your application.
  • A demographic profile based on facts and a summary of what user research has found.
  • It has things like background, both personal and professional.
  • Scenario, or how the character would use your app to get what they want.
  • The character's end goals show what they want or need to do.

The product development team doesn't always know what's best for our clients. Therefore product development might be complicated.  Understanding the target market/audience is key to developing and designing a great product's features, positioning, and marketing plan. 

Compassion is the most powerful instrument known to us, so it helps us see what is familiar to others listening. Prioritise using personalities. Personas help them prioritise products and manage backlogs.

The design team can use their user personas righteously to inform their design decisions. Using personas helps them gain insight into the targeted individual that will use their product, allowing them to make design decisions that will result in simple products for their users.

So, the design team will gain a better understanding of the context in which people use their designed product, their familiarity with various forms of technology, and any qualities the design team may possess that affect how the user uses their product.

Dos and Don'ts While Creating Personas

Creating user personas will help you better understand the needs, wants, and desires of your intended audience. So, you'll be able to concentrate your efforts on the right people while avoiding spending time on the wrong ones. 

Dos:

  • Stick to real-world tasks for users: There's no need to get sophisticated with demographics.
  • Concentrate on the present moment: Inquire about what consumers are doing currently and what they wish they could accomplish.
  • Understand the frustrations: What is it that irritates people about their current jobs or product usage?
  • Customise: Give each persona a name that your users have picked.
  • Make it simple: These templates should be simple to complete. We normally write ours on easel-sized paper and tape them to a wall for people to write on. (Of course, with the client's consent to put tape on their walls.) 

Don't:

  • Prioritise qualities over tasks: Do not make the mistake of focusing on traits rather than tasks or jobs that people perform.
  • Concentrate on erroneous detail: Favourite colour, waffles or pancakes, first concert - none of these things matter if they are unrelated to user objectives.
  • Fill up this template for your users: Force them to do it. Some will enjoy it, while others will not. There is no coaching.
  • Ignore inviting your client and/or stakeholders: This procedure produces evidence that is difficult to refute. Make them a part of it, and they'll join you in singing your song.
  • Leave this step out: If you rush into development, both you and your users will suffer. 

The Final Takeaway!

Everyday conversations should bring up the user personas, which is why they should be relatable. Even though it appears paradoxical, you should incorporate them as soon as feasible into product development. 

You can flesh out your product concepts using Zeda.io's user personas and stories. Using Zeda, you can collaborate on personalities and attach them to your work. This is a crucial benefit.

As a result, everyone's attention is kept on the intended audience. Everything from product strategy and user input to reporting on progress can be done in one location. For a limited time, you may try Zeda Roadmaps for free. 

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