Dos and Don’ts For Creating Powerful User Personas

Types of Persona Templates

  1. Persona Creation Template
    This is a large-format template you’ll ask real users to fill out by hand. (Seriously, real users. We mean it so much we wrote a thing about it.) The Persona Creation Template asks the pertinent questions you need answered to understand the people who will use your digital product.
  2. UX Strategy Persona Template
    This is a formal persona document you’ll create based on input from users. You’ll put this one together after you’ve analyzed the information from the Persona Creation Template. You’ll take a look at what your users said, (or what you’ve gleaned from direct observation) and boil it down into concrete, evidence-based findings.

The Persona Creation Template

What does it look like?

The truematter Persona Creation Template: It’s a piece of paper larger than an adult torso that’s taped to the wall. Its magic — it’s highly task-oriented.

How do you use it?

Keep in mind…

Do:

  • Stick to users’ real-world tasks. — No need to get fancy with excessive demographics.
  • Focus on the present. — Ask users about what they do now and what they wish they could do.
  • Identify frustrations. — What frustrates users about their current tasks or product use?
  • Personalize. — Give each persona a name, chosen by your users of course.
  • Make it easy. — These templates should be easy to fill out. We write ours on easel-sized paper and typically tape them to a wall for users to write on. (With the client’s permission to put tape on their walls, of course.)

Don’t:

  • Prioritize traits over tasks. — Don’t make the mistake of asking about traits more than tasks or jobs that people do.
  • Focus on erroneous detail. — Favorite color, waffles or pancakes, first concert — none of it matters if it doesn’t relate to user tasks.
  • Fill this template out for your users. — Make them do it. Some will like it, some won’t. No coaching.
  • Forget to invite your client and/or stakeholders. — This process yields evidence that’s hard to argue with. Make them part of it and they’ll be singing your song right along with you.
  • Skip this step! — You and your users will be sorry if you jump straight into development.

The Bottom Line

What else do we ask?

Download the Template

UX Strategy Persona Template

What does it look like?

The truematter UX Strategy Persona Template: It presents what we learned from user feedback and observation in an exceedingly clear manner. Even UX documentation should be easy to use.

When do you use it?

This template represents expert UX analysis.

Keep in mind…

Do:

  • Focus on tasks. — Put the majority of the effort into defining user tasks.
  • Show real photos. — Give your personas photos that represent them as real people, flaws and all.
  • Include other research. — Include information you got from users that might not have been strictly part of the persona creation template.
  • Provide quotes. — Include a quote or something similar (taken from your creation phase with users) that humanizes the data.
  • Make it easy. — Make it wonderfully simple.

Don’t:

  • Get wordy. — No one (not even this content strategist and writer) can easily digest a full paragraph per persona.
  • Use model-perfect stock photos. —These are real people. Real people don’t look like airbrushed movie stars. They really don’t.
  • Include irrelevant information. — We don’t care if users prefer orange to red if their tasks don’t depend on the preference. If users mentioned a specific, like location, and it affects their tasks, include it. If not, leave it out.
  • Let clients guide your work. — Don’t allow stakeholder or client goals to take over your persona. This is not the place for that. When it comes to personas, users first and users last.

Download the Template

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