UX Best Practices: Use Personas to Make Product Decisions

What is a UX persona?

All too often, designers and developers fall into the trap of designing for themselves, as opposed to their end users. The result? The digital product makes perfect sense to you—and perhaps your team—but not to your users.

Personas are usually the first artifacts your team will create after conducting user research. This user research could include: ethnographic studies, user interviews, surveys, and diary studies with actual or representative users. You’ll create unique personas for each group of users who have different goals, motivations, and behaviors. Your product will likely have three to five personas. Too many personas are very difficult to design for, so make sure you aren’t creating personas that don’t have meaningful differences.

The person your team represents in the one-page persona document isn’t a real person. Instead, they compile and condense key trends you saw among participants in your user research. While personas are specific to the digital product you’re creating, they should include:

  • Persona first and last name.

  • A photo.

  • Demographic information that is relevant to your product.

  • Information about what is important to your persona.

  • What goals your persona has that relate to your product.

  • What motivates your persona that could influence when and how they use your product.

  • What behaviors could affect perception, adoption and engagement with your product.

Personas should be living documents—meaning they are updated often—that your team continually refers to when they make product decisions. Your team should always being asking, “what would [persona’s name] think/do/prefer/want?” before you decide to make a product change.

Interested in learning more about creating personas and how they can be used to improve your digital product? Our in-house workshop, UX Strategy for Successful Digital Products, shows your team how to a variety of UX research methods and UX artifacts like personas, scenarios, and user journeys to create better user experiences.