Personas in Product Design

Personas are fictional characters that product managers create to represent a product’s core customer demographics. They can help you communicate with your stakeholders who your ideal users are, as well as their motivations and needs. It’s a personification process that relies on research and data design, and it’s essential to your product strategy and product positioning. By understanding your ideal customer, you will make better marketing decisions and efforts.

What is a Persona?

Persona (a.k.a user persona, customer persona, or marketing persona) in the context of marketing and Product Design is a model that describes your target customer, based on detailed audience research. It’s a “fictional” profile that closely matches a group of real users, it’s the humanization of the groups that represents your ideal customer.

A persona can be vital to the success of a product because it drives decisions of growth and improvement of your business. It essentially helps you understand your customer and the different ways they search, choose, buy, and eventually use your product. With this information, you will be able to then make the appropriate decisions in terms of Product Positioning and Tone of Voice. Creating a persona helps you craft effective and targeted messages that speak directly to your customer.

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Creating Personas

In order to build a persona, a product manager needs to reach out to the customer base. As previously mentioned, personas are created based on data. You need to do some thorough audience research and gather all the necessary information.

Through the use of social media analytics or simple direct contact, you have easy access to tools that can help you without spending a lot of resources. However, there are some key data points you’ll need to collect no matter the research method you choose.

Your customer research should include insights such as basic demographic details, buying behavior, interests and activities, and life stage. You will also need to study their goals, needs, and aspirations in order to understand where exactly your product can add product value.

With the data collected, you can now start building your persona and a profile that reflects all the research you made. Here are some points about what makes a good persona:

  • Well-researched: no matter the resources you have available, you should choose the best tool to perform the necessary market research.
  • Concise: after the in-depth research, you need to edit and put only the relevant information on the persona profile.
  • Relatable: although a persona describes an imaginary person, the description should feel real and be quickly recognizable to everyone involved. 
  • Presentable: the persona profile should be designed in a legible and easy undesrtandable format.

Depending on the situation and product, you may need to create more than one persona. And although there is no ideal number, most businesses work with 1 to 3 personas. Ideally, you should create a persona to represent every customer segment you want your product to target.

The only things it’s important to understand is that all your personas need to be as different from each other as possible. This is because even though your product stays the same, your customers have distinct needs and you may need to approach these groups differently. You need to study the different customer groups, build personas around them, and then build your product and messages accordingly.

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