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Creating a user persona in 7 steps (with template)

User Persona
How is a user persona different from a buyer persona?
Why you need a user persona
7 steps to create a user persona
User persona template for download
Final thoughts: Staying competitive with a user persona

In the fast-paced world we live in, where one trend rapidly follows another and new technologies are developed almost monthly, the challenges and desires of people are continually changing.

A foundational understanding of your company’s user persona is essential to staying competitive and adapting products swiftly to meet user needs. We guide you step-by-step through the user persona experience and how to create archetypes for your company.

What is a user persona?

A user persona is a fictional character representing your products’ users. It encapsulates their key characteristics, needs and behavior patterns, giving you the insight to tailor your products or develop new offerings effectively.

How is a user persona different from a buyer persona?

User personas and buyer personas are often confused, but there is a subtle difference:

  • User personas use your product

  • Buyer personas buy your product

At first glance, these might seem identical, but a buyer isn’t always the user. Imagine a man buying a smartphone for his mother. He makes the purchasing decision at the end of the customer journey, making him the buyer persona. His mother, however, is the one who uses the phone, making her the user persona.

In the B2C sector, user and buyer personas often coincide. In B2B, they’re more frequently distinct individuals. For instance, a purchasing agent might buy software for their company but not use it themselves. Instead, many employees might use the software, making them the user personas.

Why you need a user persona

A product is typically successful when it helps users with a specific challenge or solves a problem. For example, CRM software helps coordinate tasks in marketing and sales, close more sales or enhance the user experience.

This principle also applies to everyday products: a sandwich helps when someone is hungry and a comb helps when their hair is untidy.

For a product to truly delight users, mere functionality isn’t enough. It should also be intuitive, have a user-friendly design and meet users’ additional needs.

With a user persona, you consolidate your target group’s most critical challenges, desires, preferences and behaviors. You can then answer questions like:

  • What characterizes the users of our products in detail?

  • How do they behave daily? In what specific situations is the product used?

  • What goals do the users have with the product?

  • What excites them about products?

  • What difficulties do they encounter while using the product?

  • The most crucial question is: How can the product be improved, or is it reasonable to develop an entirely new product to better support the users?

7 steps to create a user persona

To make a user persona impactful, it should be depicted as realistically as possible. That means you shouldn’t just invent a person but base the persona on factual information about your target group.

You can follow this guide and use a free template to help:

Step 1: Assemble a team

Creating user persona examples should accurately represent many different users of your product, so it can be a complex process.

Including your team in this process can help, as marketing, sales and customer service encounter users in various situations and can offer diverse perspectives on the user persona. Invite at least one representative from each department.

Step 2: Brainstorm ideas

Your user group is never entirely homogeneous. Depending on the product, they can be very similar or entirely different.

For instance, a teenager and a senior citizen might use a smartphone, but while the teenager probably uses social media apps, the senior might only need a messaging service. Yet, both use the same device. The question then becomes: What are the common personality traits among the users?

If the differences are vast, you might consider creating multiple user personas. Let each team member brainstorm for a few minutes: What could possible user personas be? What prominent, essential characteristics stand out?

Step 3: Discuss and select

Next, discuss the ideas gathered in the team. Are there overlaps in the thoughts? Vote which potential user personas are most relevant for your product and should be developed further.

You can address additional different personas later. For now, it’s simpler to focus on one.

Step 4: Gather information

Collect details about your user persona as a team.

First, name your persona to help your employees relate better to her. Then, conduct a user research to gather in-depth data in the following areas:

  • Demographic information such as age, gender, location, educational background and marital status

  • Professional data such as job title, salary, work experience and tasks

  • Goals, wishes, needs and dreams

  • Pain points and problems

  • Personal characteristics, likes, dislikes and lifestyle

  • Typical daily routine

You can rely on experiences from everyday user interactions to obtain this information. Having your team involved in creating a realistic character is beneficial here. Additionally, you can:

  • Conduct surveys and user interviews

  • Review customer feedback and case studies

  • Analyze technical reports if you sell a device or software

Step 5: Develop a biography

Use the collected data to construct a biography. Envision your user persona and their life in vivid detail. You can also choose a photo to represent them and assign a short statement about their challenges and goals.

At the end of this process, the persona should feel like a real person. If someone asks, “How would Sandra like the product update?” your team should have a clear image in mind, improving decision-making.

Step 6: Establish usage scenarios

Finally, define typical usage scenarios (also known as use cases) in which the user persona utilizes your product. Answer these questions:

  • When does the persona use the product?

  • Where does she use it?

  • How exactly does she use it?

Step 7: Validate and refine

Your completed user persona should be regularly evaluated. Are the collected information and assumptions proving true in practice? Or do adjustments need to be made? Are there changes that should be considered?

Also, ask for feedback from the design and product development teams, as they’ll frequently work with the personas.

It’s worthwhile to review the user persona every three to six months to ensure everything is up to date.

User persona template for download

If you have multiple products or serve various target groups, it might be helpful to create several user personas and store them in a format that is easy for the entire team to access.

We have compiled a buyer persona template for download to make your work easier. It includes a table where you can collect demographic and professional data, personal characteristics, pain points and your personas’ goals concisely and clearly.

Better understand your customers with our Buyer Persona Templates

Use these templates to ensure your solution always aligns with your customers' interests and needs

Final thoughts: Staying competitive with a user persona

User personas allow you to better understand the users of your products and continuously improve your offerings according to the specific requirements of your target group.

Doing so ensures that you always offer the best possible product, focus on your customers’ desires and design an optimal user journey. Customer satisfaction increases and you remain competitive in the long term.

If you have not used user personas, now is the time to change that. Our template will support you in this endeavor.

Driving business growth