How to Make a UX Research Persona Part 1


How to Make a UX Research Persona video, Part 1 of 2

Watch this video to learn how to make a UX Research Persona for user experience research or usability testing. Part one of a two part series.

UX Research Personas, where does Persona data come from?

Primary source of UX Research Persona Data:

The primary source of data is Contextual Inquiry. What is “contextual inquiry?” It is a user-centered-design ethnographic research method in which the researcher gets out with the people who we’re designing for, observing how they interact with systems in their environment.

How to conduct contextual inquiry research for UX personas:

  • Get out of the office: Go where your end-users are and observe them in their environment.
  • Observe: Just listen and take notes, let your end-user do most if not all the talking.
  • Probe: If someone says, “I like it because it’s easier for me to use,” ask “Why?” Drill down into the motivations and actions that ultimately cause satisfaction, or dissatisfaction.
  • Ask open ended questions: ALWAYS “What, why, how.” A good one is, “Can you tell me more about…?” NEVER ask close-ended questions like; “Would you… Do you… Is this…?”

Secondary sources of UX Research Persona data:

These do NOT replace primary source data (aka contextual inquiry data), they only add additional context to that primary data.

  • Website or App behavioral data: What content is or is not consumed? What click-paths are used to navigate? What search terms are entered in the search tool when people are searching for their solution? For existing websites or apps, there is a lot of behavioral data that can augment the contextual inquiry data.
  • Focus groups and surveys: Far less reliable than the other two data methods, as what people say they do is very often not what they actually do. Still, the data can be helpful as generalized inputs for the UX Research Persona.
  • Feedback and VOC data: This is also less reliable than contextual inquiry and actual behavioral data but still helpful for capturing user input. The issue with feedback and VOC data is typically input from the vocal minority is received, but not the input from the silent majority. Also, this doesn’t help you if you are building a new design or app that nobody has used yet.

Next steps after primary UX research has been gathered:

After gathering the contextual inquiry data, and any secondary data from the other sources, it is time to put it all together into a UX research persona. We will cover that part of the process in our next video.

Next Up: Go to Part 2 of 2:

How to Make a UX Research Persona Part 2 of 2

UX Research Persona Resources:

Personas – Research and techniques as documented by Forrester

Personas Introduction Video – A brief introduction into Personas, what they are, types of personas, and why Personas are important for you.

7 Signs You May Have a Problem Persona – Good article on how to spot potential issues with your Personas, and how to fix them.


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