Schedule Time & Gather Materials
- Time for Research: 2 – 4 Weeks
- Time for Persona Construction: 1 – 2 Business Days
Carry Out This Method
The following steps are based on those given in Alan Cooper’s “About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design.”
Collect data on at least six interview subjects per business role or market segment you are targeting. Each of these roles will become a persona.
Identify the behavioral variables that are relevant to your product. It is tempting to focus on demographic information like age and income, but behavior matters more.
Map interview subjects to behavioral axes based on their behavior. For example, how likely is a user to make a purchase based on price versus feature set?
Identify significant behavior patterns. A combination of behaviors is relevant if there is a logical tie between them – see which combinations are most common.
Synthesize these behavioral & personal characteristics into one persona. Define what this persona’s goals would be based on observational data. Give your persona a photo and a name for reference and humanization.
Make sure the persona you’ve developed includes all the information necessary to educate your design team. Check for any redundancy.
Once all personas have been created, define your primary persona. The UX designer’s job is to satisfy this user’s goals without impacting the ability of secondary personas to fulfill their needs.
Expand each persona’s description to include more detail on their attributes and behaviors. If stories about relationships, problems, and triumphs will inform product design, include a relevant narrative. Fleshing out personas will help cultivate empathy for the users they represent, and make presentations more effective.
The steps as written in About Face are below.
- Group interview subjects by business role or market segment if a consumer product*
- Identify behavioral variables.
- Map interview subjects to behavioral variables.
- Identify significant behavior patterns.
- Synthesize characteristics and define goals.
- Check for completeness and redundancy.
- Designate persona types.
- Expand the description of attributes and behaviors.
* Additional text in italics.
Try These Tips
- Don’t reuse personas. A primary persona for one product can rarely be used as the primary persona for another.
- Be aware that behaviors can change over time. Another round of user interviews and ethnocentric observations can offer fresh insights.
Explore More Resources
- Usability Body of Knowledge: Persona
- Nielsen Norman Group: Personas Make Users Memorable for Product Team Members
- Cooper: About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design, Fourth Edition
- Usability.gov: Personas
- Get Elastic: Personas 101: What Are They and Why Should I Care?
- UX Magazine: Personas: The Foundation of a Great User Experience
- About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design