How to Make UX Research Persona Part 2

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

Watch the second part of the two part video series to learn how to make a UX Research Persona for user experience research or usability testing. Part 2 of a 2 part series.


UX Research Personas, we have the contextual inquiry data, now what?

Consolidate data and look for commonalities and patterns

Now that you have all your observations and data we discussed in the How to Create a UX Research Persona part 1 video, how do you synthesize it all into a Persona? Look for common patterns, specifically in terms of how the end-user goes about accomplishing their goal. There are several steps to looking for patterns, which include (PS, more detail in the video):

  • What are consistent work-arounds to existing problems?
  • What does everyone say repeatedly about a goal or desire?
  • What consistent task-flow successes, or failures, are shared among your end-users?

Put your draft Persona together (hint, work backwards)

Now that you’ve identified your common patterns, it’s time to start putting your Persona together. Many practitioners start by rushing off to find a great picture and/or name for their persona. However, there’s a better way to do this, and it’s by working backwards:

1. Start with end goal – What ultimately is the end-user wanting, what’s the desired end state?

2. Identify critical tasks – What are the top 1-3 critical tasks necessary for the end-user to be successful? This identification is necessary for usability testing, but not for general design or product Personas (although why WOULDN’T you find it helpful to know the critical tasks necessary for the end-users success)?

3. Document environment of use – Are there common places, devices or 3rd party tools that consistently are used or needed? If so (and they are important to the completion of the end user’s desired end-state) document them.

4. Define domain expertise – Is there a common domain expertise, meaning familiarity with the systems, terminology or processes? If yes, document them. An example is a claims processor for a large insurance company who has to be trained on the terminology and processes before utilizing an internal claims-entry system.

5. Create a name – Be sure to be culturally sensitive, focus on common names that are easy to remember and that can easily be used by your team. Names are important, don’t scrimp on spending time to find just the right name for your Persona!

6. Find a picture – As humans, we are visual creatures, so a face and name are important to humanize our Persona. I recommend real pictures versus cartoons or clip art, and if possible use pictures showing the end-user in context of use of the system. For example, if creating an app to find a lost dog or cat, a picture of a happy pet owner hugging their pet would be a good choice.

Things that all UX Personas have in common for UX research or usability testing:

There are thousands and thousands of variations of Personas out there, just do a search for “UX Persona” in Google images to see what I mean. However, for UX research and usability testing purposes most Personas should share the same things in common, including:

  • Picture – Important to personalize and humanize our persona, MUST be an accurate visual representation of our Persona. Don’t just use any random picture that sort of looks like a Persona.
  • Critical Tasks – Typically no more than 3
  • Scenario – Specific to the critical task or tasks, what is this Persona trying to accomplish?
  • Background – The background for the scenario, why is this Persona trying to accomplish a critical task?
  • Devices – What device or devices does our Persona typically use, or what 3rd party tools are required? Less important now as most people can and do use multiple devices, however still important especially if we are discussing B2B software or solutions that require specific devices.
  • Domain Expertise – How educated or familiar is the Persona with the subject matter, terminology and existing process flow? Do they have a good understanding of terminology and a solid mental map of how the process and task-flow should work, or not?
  • Environment – Again, less meaningful now that the internet is everywhere via mobile, still, it’s important to consider the context in which the user is engaged with your website or app.
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You will see a huge variety in types of Personas, from the very detailed to the very basic. But for UX design and research purposes you can’t go wrong making sure you have the above data clearly defined for your Personas. Watch the video to learn why.

UX Research Persona Resources:

How to Create a UX Research Persona Part 1 – The first video in this two part video series on how to create a UX research Persona for user experience research and usability testing

How to Create a UX Research Persona Part 2 – The second video in this two part video series on how to create a UX research Persona for user experience research and usability testing

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.