How to Make a Customer Persona and 8 Powerful Ways it Optimizes Your Website

How to make a customer persona is easier and faster than you think; it only takes a couple of hours and is an excellent way to start user research.

What is a persona

A persona is a fictional person to stand in for a person or group. There are three different kinds of personas in UX research: employee, users/customers, and shareholders. This article will be going over the customer persona, which identifies the user’s: 

  • Desires, 
  • Expectations, 
  • Needs, 
  • Behaviors, 
  • Pain points (frequent problems or challenges), 
  • Goals. 

A customer persona represents a group within the target audience that a company/individual is trying to attract. The target audience for a website, app, document, or physical object usually contains different ethnicities, cultures, and ages of people. As such, a company/person can make multiple personas for each of their main demographics within their target audience. There is also the negative customer persona that represents the kinds of people unwanted on or using your site or product(s).

A customer persona should be based on real data if possible, but sometimes assumptions must be made about the user’s demographic when data is not available, e.g. when something is just starting to be designed or used. It should be noted that many personas are based on assumptions and are stereotypical. That’s okay as long as the assumptions that make up the persona are reasonable and not based on urban myths, sexism, or racism. For example, ‘most moms that have two kids and drive a car drive SUVs or minivans’ is a reasonable assumption; ‘most women are poor drivers’ is not a reasonable assumption (or appropriate).

How to Make a Customer Persona

Keep your personas to one or two pages (I recommend one) to avoid making things overly complicated. Remember that a persona is a stand in for a large group of people, so it should not be too specific. There are websites that will help you make one with free templates available, like UXPressia.

The first step in how to make a customer persona is to pick the demographic of users to be represented by the persona, and then choose the gender the persona identifies as (‘I chose not to say’ is a valid choice, but I recommend choosing a gender for the persona so things are easier later on, particularly if you ever make a journey map using this persona).

Give the persona a name and face (a stock image is fine) to humanize them and make them more relatable.

Add personal details like: 

  • General age range, 
  • Where they spend their time online and IRL, 
  • Personality characteristics
  • Personal values
  • Main reading language (and other languages if normal for the demographic),
  • Speech pattern and lingo, 
  • Education level 
  • Technology use and understanding level
  • Annual wage, 
  • Current job, if desired.

Make sure to list the common goals and problems (motivations and frustrations) for the persona to find pain points and opportunities to cater to their needs and wants. For marketing purposes, add which forms of media, brands, influences, systems, and other tools that the persona already uses like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram; tablet, desktop, or mobile phone; and text, social media, or email. Also, add what times during the day and how much they use them.

Lastly, add a quote that this persona would say that is relevant to the topic or problem that you are trying to solve with your website, device, etc.

Benefits of a Persona

A persona will result in:

  • Deeper understanding of customer needs and wants and how to cater to them
  • Validation or disprove of designs and projects
  • Reasons to prioritize which feature requests and campaigns are accepted and imputed
  • Inspiration for new ideas for attributes and products

Changes based on the persona should include:

  • Text and lingo targeted to the demographic represented by the persona
  • Blog and other content targeted to persona
  • Optimize (landing) pages for customers
  • Remove content and features that only attracts the negative persona
  • Advertise using persona’s favorite social media and other influences
  • Adjust prices, fees, and other costs to persona’s budget
  • Find products and needs that users need at different stages or levels of skill or use

Summary

A customer persona represents a group within the target audience that a company/individual is trying to attract. How to make a customer persona is done by picking the demographic the persona represents; giving the persona a name and face; adding personal details; listing common goals, motivations, problems, and frustrations; adding the most commonly used social media and brands; and adding a quote to make this user more human. Most major companies have 90% of their target audience mapped out by personas, and half of that raised their reaching of (and the number of) paying customers using personas. 

Making customer personas is an easy way to begin designing or refining a product or attribute of a product to best attract consumers. The best part is that each persona usually only takes an hour or two to make and is basically free. If you want to better optimize your site for users, a customer persona is an excellent way to start.

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