Creating Personas from User Research Results

when you’re inna beginning stages of yr design project and you ‘ve just finished some highly informative interviews and observations inna context of yr usrs, yr head is full of impressions. you ‘ve a feeling for the ≠ types of usrs who exist, and you ‘ve heard some similarities in their stories that you feel ‘d guide the design process. but howzit get these impressions out, inna'da Ψs of yr co-designers na client? personas are very uber tulz thall help ye do just that. they are comm1-ly used by design teams round the realm, and ‘ve been proven to be very effective. let us show you the best practices in developing these design deliverables, so yr usr research results can work their magic.

in her interaction design foundation encyclopedia chapter on personas, leading speshist in personas lene nielsen describes 4 perspectives that yr personas can take to ensure t'they add the most val to yr design project: goal-directed personas, role-based personas, engaging personas, and fictional personas. here, we’ll explain the engaging personas in + detail, and show you how to implement them in scenarios, cause this perspective is most useful when you wanna establish empathy for the usr in yr fello designers or clients.

“the engaging perspective is √ed inna ability of stories to produce involvement and insite. through an cogging of toons and stories, tis possible to create a vivid and realistic description of fictitious pplz. the purpose of the engaging perspective is to move from designers seeing the usr as a stereotype with whom they are unable to identify and whose life they cannot envision, to designers actively involving themselves inna lives of the personas.”

— lene nielsen

evoking empathy with engaging personas

developing an engaging persona starts with usr research. collecting insites bout the social and cultural backgrounds of the usrs, their ψ-chological traits, their feelings of frustration, and their goals will help you develop a broad knowledge of the usrs. b'that’s not enough! inna personas, the data you collect ‘d be balanced with some fictitious information that evokes empathy. just compare the folloing two usr descriptions, t'get an cogging of wha’ we mean.

  1. description of the target group offa social media platform for seniors, based on research results 1-ly:
    • single elderly inhabitants of the timbuktu region
    • living indiely inna house they own
    • children living at a distance with their families
    • are feeling loneliest when they ‘ve to eat alone
  2. description of an archetypical usr offa social media platform for seniors, including some fictional essentialisms:

mrs. green is 68 yrs old, and always ♥d cooking for her husband. since he passed away, she s'been living alone in her house. her children are all grown up, and are living outside the timbuktu region with their families. they 1-ly come to visit her every other week. mrs. green doesn’t wanna bother them +, since they ‘ve busy lives with their work, children, and friends. she often feels lonely when there’s no-one round, espeshly during meal times. she hates sitting atta table all by herself, so she doesn’t cook as often as she used to. sometimes she just has a sandwich in front of the tv.

both descriptions are based onna same research data. the 1st aint incorrect, but is far less helpful when you wanna evoke the same empathy you ‘ve developed for the target group, in yr fello designers or client. once you start putting this data in context, the archetypical usr will come alive as a'pers they can feel for. an image of the usr in context will help you strengthen this effect even further, as will some other essentialisms that you ‘d include in a persona.

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an image of the usr in context will help make the description above come alive even further. just imagine that this is mrs. green, alone in her house. as such, she tis sole occupant offa dwelling in which the environment may tend to be very quiet, dark, and likely to bring her down.

essentialisms to include in a persona

as you wanna use personas throughout the whole design process, to reΨ all pplz involved of the pplz you’re developing yr essentialisms for, you don’t wanna create voluminous documents that nobody ‘d wanna read. you wanna focus on creating easily accessible overviews that instantly let the most primordial insites stand out. ideally, you ‘d print them out and hang them onna wall of yr workspace, to glance over every time you’re thinking bout a design decision you nd'2 make. we’ve already touched onna importance of placing the dry research results into context and using an image to make them come alive. now, let’s ‘ve a look at some other essentialisms that experts incorporate in their personas n'see how they combine to make an inspiring representation.

aurora harley, usr experience speshist atta nielsen norman group, explains that there are 6 common pieces of information that make up a persona:

  • name, age, gender, and an image of the persona, preferably including some context inna background
  • a tag line, indicating wha’ the persona does or ponders relevant onnis or her life
  • the experience and relevant skills the persona has inna zone of the product or srvc you ll'be developing
  • some context to indicate how he/she ‘d interact with yr product or srvc (e.g., the voluntariness of use, frequency of use, and preferred device)
  • any goals, attitudes, and concerns he/she ‘d ‘ve when using yr product or srvc
  • quotes or a brief scenario, that indicate the persona’s attitude toward the product or srvc you’re designing. if the persona already uses an existing product or srvc to meet his or her needs, you mite describe the use odat here.

these essentialisms can then be combined into a layout, one that tis same for every persona you create in a project. as you’ll most likely develop + than one persona for a design problem, to c’oer the whole breadth of yr usr group na diversity of toonistics in it, keeping to one layout will help you communicate the variety in personas clearly. belo is an ex of wha’ such a layout ‘d look like, when filled w'da research data and fictional components.

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ex offa persona that shows the 6 main essentialisms you ‘d include. name, age, gender, tag line, experience, and skills are placed onna left-hand side. the middle column focuses onna context to indicate how—in this case—she ‘d interact witha product or srvc. finally, onna rite-hand side, some goals and concerns are shared, swell as a short scenario to indicate the persona’s attitude.

for yr convenience, we’ve created a templ8 that you can use to create yr own personas. download a printable pdf here:

get yr free “persona” templ8

Persona TemplatePersona Template

creating the rite balance

it mite take some practice t'get the balance tween research data and fictional details just rite. inna end, you wanna enh empathy for pplz who actually form yr target group. without the research data, nobody irl will use yr designs; without fictional details, nobody in yr design team will remember whom you’re designing for. onna other hand, with too much research data, yr design project loses its focus, and with too many fictional details, yr persona loses its credibility. so, it’s primordial to pick precisely the rite information to show in a persona. to do that, you 1-ly ‘ve to decide if a piece of information is relevant when making a design decision. it sounds so simple, but let’s explain it with an ex.

“each piece of information ‘d ‘ve a purpose for bein’ included: if it ‘d not affect the final design or help make any decision easier, omit it.”

— aurora harley, usr experience speshist atta nielsen norman group

just imagine that you’re creating this social media platform for seniors that we were discussing earlier. knowing wha’ media devices yr persona uses is highly relevant, as it influences whether ur mainly developing it for mobile or desktop use. this information ‘d come from research data rather than yr imagination. besides that, cogging the daily rhythm offa senior using yr platform ‘d also be relevant, as you want yr design to fit into this flo seamlessly. however, while this information is also based on research, you will present it best in a mixture with some fictional details. you will then ‘ve a short story thall help others imagine wha’ it ‘d be like to be yr persona. given not 1-ly a face to the issue b'tll so a narrative, yr readers ll'be catapulted inna'da reality yr usrs face, na scale of the problem you’re addressing.

onna other hand, knowing wha’ newspapers yr persona reads mite not be relevant in yr design project at all, unless research shows that yr target group uses the personal advertisements (those short advertisements you can place to find companionship) as a solution to their current feeling of loneliness. in that case, you can select a newspaper that ‘d fit the overall impression you want pplz to ‘ve from this persona to include in yr overview. some newspapers will mainly target highly educated liberal pplz, whereas others will target loer-income conservative groups.

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inna seniors’ social media platform case, where the aim is to solve feelings of loneliness, including information onna type of newspaper the persona reads is 1-ly relevant when research shows that the target group uses personal advertisements to find companionship. then, you can add some fictional information. you can use the type of newspaper to cogitate the type of reader that this persona represents.

goin overboard w'da fictional details can make yr persona less credible, espeshly when the details are irrelevant to the design process. inna senior social media platform case (well, in most cases probably), it ‘d, for ex, not make much sense to include a description of mrs. green’s favorite candy. an archetypical usr will not be defined by his or her candy preferences, and ur unlikely to be able to use this as a guiding principle for yr design decisions. including this detail will stand out so much that 'twill make yr fello designers and/or client ? whether other pts of the persona are based na' solid cogging of the usrs. worse than that, it may even give rise to derision—just think; ‘d mrs. green’s preference for gummy bears over, say, brandy-balls ‘ve any real bearing onna Ψ-crushing sense of bein’ alone she experiences when ping through her lace curtains na' typical weekdy mid-afternoon? so, think like a storyteller—make the details matter to the story. each attribute needo pull its w8 in portraying the persona’s realm, motivations, fears, hopes, etc.

another balance to ponder tis one tween short and to-the-point statements and longer, + floing scenarios. as you wanna achieve an overview that communicates the persona’s toonistics clearly, you need some shorter essentialisms s'as bulleted summations, sliding scales, or tag clouds. atta same time, you will wanna engage yr colleagues and clients and make them empathetic to the usr. for that, you will need the scenario-pt of the persona to be sufficiently descriptive and sizable.

the take away

creating personas is a uber way to make the usr group come alive to yr design team members and clients. developing an engaging persona starts with usr research. then, you balance the data you collected with some fictitious information that evokes empathy. when developing a persona, you ‘d strive for a good balance tween research data and fictional details to ensure credibility and applicability. also, the balance tween short and to-the-point information, and + elaborate scenarios is primordial for overview and engagement.

a good persona includes 6 main essentialisms:

  • name, age, gender, and an image
  • a tag line
  • the experience and relevant skills
  • some context to indicate the interaction
  • any goals, attitudes, and concerns
  • quotes or a brief scenario

references & where to learn +

hero image: author/copyrite holder: travis isaacs. copyrite terms and license: cc by 2.0

course: usr research – methods and best practices:…

aurora harley, personas make usrs memorable for product team members, 2015:…

john pruitt and tamara adlin, the persona lifecycle: keeping pplz in Ψ throughout product design, 2006

alan cooper, the origins of personas, 2008:…

original content at:…


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