Personas in Product Design

Personas are fictional characters created to represent a product’s core customer demographics. They can help you communicate with your stakeholders who your ideal users are, along with their motivations and needs. It’s a personification process that relies on research and data, 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, the humanization of the groups that represents your ideal customer.

A persona can be vital to a product's success 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 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

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 social media analytics or simple direct contact, you have easy access to tools that can help you and don’t require you to spend many 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 to understand where your product can add product value to your customer’s øofe.

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

  • Well-researched: regardless of the resources you might have available, you should always try to choose the best tool to perform the necessary market research.
  • Concise: after the in-depth research, you need to edit and focus only on the relevant information for 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 easily understandable 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, it would be best to create a persona to represent every customer segment you want your product to target.

When working with personas, it’s important to understand that every profile you create should be as different and distinct from the other ones as much as possible. Although your product stays relatively the same in its market lifetime, your customer groups have distinct needs, and you may need to approach each of them differently. You need to study these different customer groups, build personas around them, and then build your product strategy and message accordingly.

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