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  • Writer's pictureBoru Wang

Understand and Create Personas

No matter you are a business analyst or a UX designer, personas are equally crucial for us to identify patterns of behavior in different groups of users. In this article, let's explore and understand personas, identify and solve pain points of users, create personas, and find out why we use them.

Explore Personas

First, let's understand what are personas. Personas are fictional users whose goals and characteristics represent the needs of a larger group of users. Although the personas are fictional, we will not build these characters up from scratch. But how are we going to build them? Well, we are going to build them through research and interactions with the clients. As we understand the business process through our clients or research on our own, it will help us to find the user groups. Each user group will eventually form different personas. Remember, a user group is a set of people who have similar interests, goals, or concerns.


Identify and Solve User Pain Points

Each persona will take us to a common pain point that a group of users' experience. Identifying and solving user pain points will help us to provide better user experience for the end users. A final product with good user experience is not how we, as a designer or developer, think of it, but how the end users think of it. Now one thing should be very clear, it is all about the users. We will always designing for the users and providing solutions to solve what they are currently struggling. To identify the pain points of users, we need to empathize the users by understanding what they said, did, thought, and felt.

Pain Points that users have been experiencing could be in different types. Based on different goals they want to achieve, the pain points might be:

  1. Financial: this is simple, financial pain points are all related to money;

  2. Product: users usually has concerns and issues dealing with the quality of the product;

  3. Process: check out if the system process frustrated the user's experience;

  4. Support: let the users feel being supported when they interact with your product.

When you can identify user pain points, you can develop more meaningful solutions. For example, your client might be struggling of sending emails with similar content every day. These repeatable work makes them feel frustrated because they should have more time to do more meaningful tasks. Well, after understanding their pain point, you might want to introduce them email template or create some automated flows to help them sending those emails. And this, is the solution you provided for them.


How to Create Personas

To better illustrate this topic, let's take a scenario to help us to build personas. For example, you are going to build a food menu app for a café located in San Francisco. As we all know, San Francisco is a city with plenty cultural diversities. The potential users of this app might be immigrants from another country. They might not be familiar with English menus, and want the menu translated into their native language. Most importantly, they might not want to eat some food with specific ingredients. Now imaging you are doing the research, getting closely to understand this specific user group. As you take your notes, you might get something below.

Paul Raphael is a 31 years old man graduated from Abu Dhabi University with an engineering degree. He currently working as a transportation engineer at a local transportation engineering company. He is living with his wife in downtown San Francisco. He always left home early in the morning and want to buy some food on the way to the office. Sometimes, Paul cannot tell which one is his favorite food because he is not familiar with the food names on the menu. As an Islamic member, some of the ingredients that he doesn’t want to have from the food. Since he sometimes has the English blockers to communicate with local people, he is always wondering if the food ready for him or not. He is a very busy scheduled employee and has some important paperwork need to read in the morning.

Paul Raphael is one of the personas that representing users who are immigrants with different religions. As you can see from this persona example, make sure you include all the necessary components when you create them as well:

  1. Name

  2. Age

  3. Education Background

  4. Hometown

  5. Family Status

  6. Occupation

  7. Goals

  8. Frustrations

  9. A short summary of what they said, felt, thought and concerned

  10. A quote to represent what is most important for them

Personas are created by conducting user research and identifying common pain points, which are UX issues that frustrate and block the user from getting what they need from a product. As you create personas, look for the most common themes in your data and group the users who personify those themes together. For example, imagine that the data collected from user interviews for the food menu app shows that a lot of potential users between the ages of 25 and 40 are concerned about ordering food on the way to their office. That would definitely be a pain point you’d want to include in a persona that represents that specific age group of users.


Why We Need Personas?

Paul Raphael just represent only one persona. You might want to build a persona to represent each key user group, and it will take time. You probably come up with this questions, why are we creating personas? Does it worth the time? The short answer is absolutely.

Personas build empathy and put a face to the user. They help humanize our users. They give stakeholders a clearer idea of who their users really are and makes the user experience more meaningful. In addition, personas tell stories. This is why personas are key to turning an average stakeholder presentation into a story telling experience. One persona isn't enough to tell all the sides of a design story. As we only talked about Paul, you are not improving the menu app just for him. This is why you also need a set of personas.

Personas also stress-test designs. Let's go back to the food menu app. Probably you haven't even thought of making your app to support multi languages. With this persona, it will provide you the idea how you can improve it.

Thank you for your time to read this article. Hope it helps you to create personas and solve your problems. Please also feel free to share it with other readers so it can help more people.


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