Creating user personas is one of the first key activities that we do each time we start a branding project at Bonanza Design. We don’t create user personas only when the internal team has already prepared them in the way that we’d like to prepare them.Creating user personas sounds easy but finding the right information is not. Relying only on the team's knowledge to create user personas is misleading and can jeopardize the results of the design project. The only true way to create user personas is based on market and user inputs.In this article, we break it down how we create personas using market and user inputs.
START WITH A DEFINED MARKET
Your market cannot be the entire world or the USA or the EU. It cannot even be entire Germany in the beginning. Addressing the needs of an entire country is a daring task.It’s crucial for the start of every venture, to have a sharp focus. At best you can address the needs of few major cities. When it comes to running social media campaigns for our clients, we only pick a major city. For the sake of this article, we’ll pick Berlin because our team is based here.
LIST ALL ACTIVE COMPETITORS IN YOUR MARKET
It’s crucial to know which competitors are active in your market. List all the major competitors and break down their core product and service offerings. By doing that, we want to create a map of all the user’s needs being addressed by each competitor.How would you do it? Create a sheet and list all the competitors. Under each competitor, list all the futures they offer. Then in the adjacent column, write down the user need that is being covered by each feature. Then you can reverse engineer some characteristics of user personas that were being addressed by each feature.[caption id="attachment_1508" align="aligncenter" width="652"]
Caption: Example of Reverse Engineering of Persona Characteristics from User’s Need[/caption]
RESEARCH GOOGLE KEYWORDS FOR TRENDS AND USE CASES
Looking at google trends and keywords in your market, you can fetch invaluable information. Google Keywords can tell you a lot about the current dynamic of the targeted market. For example currently in the Berlin Fitness market, Sophia Thiel (trend) and jumping fitness (use case) are popular. [caption id="attachment_1501" align="aligncenter" width="512"]
Caption: A Screenshot of Google Keywords[/caption]Combining the findings from competitor research with that of Google Keywords can reveal hidden truths about the targeted market. For example, if you observe that there’s a certain use case trending amongst Google Keywords and hasn’t yet been addressed by competitors, then you may find yourself a sweet spot in the market.
CREATE A DRAFT OF PERSONAS
Based on the above findings from competitors and keywords research, you can draft the user personas. Creating user personas is easy. You can simply search google for user personas and find many free templates. However, at Bonanza Design, we never follow a template. We let the gathered findings from previous steps shape the user persona description. We aim to create a new template for each project.[caption id="attachment_1503" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]
Caption: An Example of a User Persona made by Bonanza Design team[/caption]When you draft the user persona and their characteristics, remember they’re the only drafts. Pay attention whether you assume or conclude from evidence of the previous steps. In case you assume, then you have to verify your assumptions.This Segues into the next step: RESEARCH! List all the questions you have about the draft of each persona and create an interview script accordingly. As the next step, you interview people (please find strangers; no friends and families!) that share similarity with the created user personas.
FIND UP TO 5 PEOPLE PER PERSONA AND INTERVIEW THEM
A good rule of thumb for each persona, you need 5 interviews. Don’t go more or less than 5. We did it, it didn’t work. Try to meet them in person. In case it was not possible (Global Pandemie, hello!), you can also conduct remote interviews.The advantage of in-person interviews is that you can get so much from interacting with another person. You can understand their emotions, body movements, and get a feeling of their social status. Record all the interviews and review each after when the interviews are over. Then summarize the findings of each interview.
UPDATE YOUR INITIAL USER PERSONAS BASED ON THE FINDINGS OF INTERVIEWS
Now it’s time to brush off the initial description of each user persona based on the actual inputs from the user interviews. You may see that so much of your initial assumptions are not true. And that’s great; don’t worry. If you hit such a scenario, that’s a healthy signal.After finalizing the description of user personas, call them User Personas V1.
CREATE A USER JOURNEY MAPS BASED ON THE FINDINGS OF THE INTERVIEWS
One stone, two birds! Based on your initial research and the results of the interviews, you can create a user journey map for each persona. What’s user journey maps? A user journey map is a template by which you can break down the journey of users in dealing with a challenge. Google user journey mapping for more!The caveat here is that you may not have enough inputs to complete the user journey maps because your interview questions were only to surface the characteristics of the user persona. In such cases, you want to have a follow-up round of user interviews to find pieces to the puzzle of user journey mapping.
In this article, we offered you a rundown on how we create user personas. We hope you find it useful. In any case, please share your feedback with us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you.