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The Art of Persona Creation

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Welcome, dear readers, to the thrilling world of creating user personas for UX research! Imagine crafting characters with the skill of a master storyteller, only these characters are representative of the real people who will use your product or service: Your users.

Just a few words down you'll take your first steps on a journey that unleashes your inner persona-artist. Let's do it:

So uhh, what's a Persona?

A persona is like your favourite character in a hit TV series; they represent and embody a specific user group, with unique traits, needs, and behaviours. They're relatable, and because they're characters, they have characteristics of real people. By thinking of Personas like this, you'll have a deep understanding of your target audience and what they want, need, like and dislike. And you can do everything in your power to design something that's awesome for THEM.

1. It all starts with research

If you're gonna make something amazing, you have to know what makes it amazing. And most importantly, WHO will find it amazing! Conduct interviews, surveys, and analyse data to unearth the treasures of user insights. You're like an archaeologist hunting for user artifacts (not as dangerous as Indiana Jones, we promise). Once you've got this data, you can start to paint a pretty good picture of your users. Remember though, you are not your users. Again for emphasis, and for anyone thinking of skipping this step: YOU ARE NOT YOUR USERS. Just because you're designing for other humans, doesn't mean you understand them. In fact being human is where the similarities between you and your users end!

User research is the foundation of your persona building. Get this part wrong, and the rest of it will fall apart like a house of cards.

2. Character Development

Now that you have your research, it's time to give your personas some personality. What are their hobbies? Do they binge-watch cat videos or prefer deep-sea diving on the weekends? Know them inside out. Forming an accurate picture of their lives outside of their interaction with your product is vital, because it all informs who they are, their cognitive biases, and their decision-making processes.

3. Name That Persona

Don't saddle your personas with dull names like "User 1" or "Customer A." Give them names with flair, like "Adventure-Seeker Annie" or "Tech Guru Tim." Since they're the star of your entire workflow, they deserve to be recognised for it. Imagine a star on Hollywood Boulevard that says 'User 1' - it just wouldn't happen!

4. The Persona's Bio

Write a mini-biography for your persona. Where do they live? What's their job? Do they have children? Do they drive a Polestar or a Polo? Are they rich or just scraping by? Do they have a gambling problem? Are they addicted to Liquorice cigarettes? Do they own three cats and a collection of antique spoons? The more detail, the better.

5. Their Motivations and Desires

What are their goals? What keeps them awake at night? To design the best possible outcome for them, all about understanding what makes them tick, and what ticks them off.

6. Behaviours and Pain Points: What Makes Them Dance or Cringe?

What drives your personas? What irks them? If they starred in a rom-com, what would be their meet-cute and their dramatic, edge-of-the-seat moment?

Bringing Your Persona to Life

It's showtime! Introduce your personas to your team with pomp and circumstance. This is where the magic happens. Your team gets to know these personas like old friends, and they start designing with them in mind.

Use Your Personas Wisely

Your personas aren't just decoration; they're your compass. Whenever you're at a design crossroads, see how each decision would affect your personas. It'll feel awakward at first saying "What would Tech Guru Tim do?", but eventually with practice your team will start designing intuitively based on the needs of the personas. That's why it's SO IMPORTANT to make sure your research is solid at the start. Otherwise you'll be designing for users who don't really exist.

Evolution: They Grow Up So Fast

Your personas aren't frozen in time like characters in a painting (an old-fashioned, real life painting, at least). They're more like a Harry Potter painting: They move. As your research unveils new insights over time, your personas can (and should) evolve. Keep them updated, and they'll be your guiding stars in the ever-changing tech galaxy.

So there you have it!

Creating personas isn't just for fun; it leads to outstanding user experiences, happier users, and ultimately, a pat on your back for a job well done. Keep your personas visible, print them out and stick them beside your desk. Use them to help guide your designs, and you'll be amazed athow much easier decision-making becomes. Now go forth and craft personas that make your design journey seem like a thrilling adventure. Break a leg, fellow UXplorers! 🎬 🚀

To dive even deeper into persona creation, check out this Neilsen Norman article for some extra inspiration!