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User persona

A user persona, also known as a customer persona, is a comprehensive description of a company's ideal customer.
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What is a user persona?

They're often used by marketing teams, sales teams, and designers in order to determine what kind of person would purchase their product or service. User personas are key tools in design processes and marketing plans, ideally resulting in useful and successful products.

Don't be afraid to be specific in your persona development. You can always edit and modify your user personas later on.

The components of user personas vary depending on customer base, company needs, and market research but often include the following:

  • Demographic information such as name, age, gender, income, education, and location.
  • Personal information such as name, job title, company, job description, marital status, and number of children.
  • A short biography. Use this section to bring out personality traits & even photos.
  • Goals & motivators. Make sure that those listed always connect back to your product or service. For example, if you were selling a vegetarian cookbook, your user persona's goals might include reducing their meat consumption or learning to cook more delicious vegetarian recipes.
  • Pain points. Think about your ideal customer's annoyances, problems, and even fears. This information will help you market a truly useful product that responds to demand.
  • Favourite brands & products.
Pro Tip: Think about adding industry-specific information. If your product or service is tech-related, for example, persona examples might include favourite social media channels or general tech abilities.

Why is having a user persona important?

User personas are incredibly useful tools because they...

  • Are vital in achieving optimal user experiences. Done correctly, customer personas will help you design and market highly desirable products that respond to pain points and fulfill target market needs.
  • Provide a great opportunity for collaboration. Use customer personas as an opportunity for diverse team members to work together and brainstorm. If the design team and the marketing team start working together at this stage, they'll be on the same page throughout the development process.
  • Help create strong marketing campaigns. User personas are strong bases for potent, targeted marketing campaigns, acting as tools to help you segment your content marketing.

Pro Tip: Top marketing campaigns are often based on a series of unique marketing personas.

  • Are highly informative. A lot of hard work goes into putting together excellent user personas. This includes both market research and user research. However, the data and insights collected from this research are often incredibly useful to various aspects of your business, particularly in relation to marketing strategies.

Start with Slite's free user persona templates

Want to begin developing your own user personas but aren't sure where to start? Slite's got your back! Our user persona templates look sleek, are 100% customizable, encourage team collaboration... and did we mention that they're free? You couldn't ask for a better starting point!

We can't wait to see the persona examples that you come up with.

How can I create a user persona template?

To create your own user persona template, we’d recommend that you follow these steps:

1. Determine why you’re creating user personas

There are many different reasons why your business might be creating user personas. Usually, it’s because you want your real users to do a specific action. Some potential examples of these actions include:

  • Opting in to your email subscriber list
  • Requesting more information about a product or service 
  • Buying a product or service
  • Signing up for a service and/or making an account 
  • Watching media content like a video or livestream
  • Engaging with a social media post
  • Clicking on or visiting your website

Once you’ve determined the specific action you want your users to take, it’s much easier to work backwards and determine how to get specific profiles to carry them out.

For example, imagine that you work for a platform that offers online workout classes. Your ideal customer is a young working professional with a busy schedule and limited free time, but they still like to find ways to prioritize health and wellness. Hopefully, you’ve created a user persona that represents this ideal customer. 

Now, take things a step further and imagine that your goal is to get your ideal customer to sign up for a two-week free trial on your platform. It’s much easier to think about the kind of language you might use and the kind of advertising that would work well now that you have a persona in mind, isn’t it?

This is why having a clear ideal of why you’re creating user personas is so helpful. Let’s face it, it’s downright essential.

2. Conduct user research

User personas aren't real people, but they're based on real people. The best customer personas are based on real customers and put the experience into UX.

Ideally, you should collect data from your customers in order to ultimately condense your findings into one (or a few) user personas. This will help you put together pertinent, comprehensive, and effective user personas because they’re backed by actual research.

There are a variety of different ways that you can conduct user research. Here are just a few possibilities.

Open-ended customer surveys

This is probably one of the most popular ways to conduct user research. It’s effective because you can get more detailed information that you’d collect by asking simple yes or no questions. They also have relatively high completion rates because they can be filled out online, whether it’s on your website or delivered via email. 

Customer surveys are most effective when you relate the majority of your questions back to your product or service and the specific action(s) you want your customers to do. Try to understand their relationship with your company, their paint points, their interests, their shopping habits, and their thinking patterns more broadly.

Some examples of questions you could ask in a customer survey include:

  • Tell us a little bit about yourself 
  • What initially caught your eye when you discovered our product?
  • Is there anything that made you hesitate before you bought our product?
  • Did you consider any other similar products before you choose ours?
  • How are you currently using our product? How does it help you out?
  • How was your experience purchasing a product with us? Is there anything you would change?
  • Would you purchase a product from us again? Why or why not?
  • What do you like or dislike about our company overall?
  • Do you have any additional comments you’d like to share with us?

These questions can vary depending on the kind of customer you are interviewing (potential customers, post-purchase customers, returning customers), but you get the idea.

Ideally, you should collect survey responses from at least 100 people. In order to maximize completion rates, keep your survey short and sweet with around 10 questions. When you’re sending out communications related to your survey, you should make those brief and to the point as well. 

Observe general patterns

Another way you can conduct customer research is by observing their general patterns and behaviour. This is much more difficult to quantify and record than survey responses, so it’s a less popular option. It’s also very time consuming. Nevertheless, it can be a good technique if you want to get a general impression about a specific behaviour in your customer base. 

Many companies who conduct this kind of research use social media pages, websites, search engines, and landing pages to observe these patterns. These tools also have analytics that can provide a better idea of customers’ specific behaviours.

Face-to-face interviews and focus groups

Face-to-face interviews and focus groups can be tricky, but they can also be highly effective when done correctly. They ask for a much larger time commitment than online surveys, so it can be harder to recruit participants. Participants also usually have to be provided with compensation, so it can get expensive as well.

Face-to-face interviews’ biggest strength is the fact that they present you with the opportunity to ask follow-up questions and gather more detailed responses than you would with an online survey. You’ll really get to know your participants and develop greater insight into what makes them tick.

Other than the time commitment, one of the disadvantages of face-to-face interviews is they rely on what people say rather than what they do. The answers participants give in formal interviews might not totally match up with their real behaviour. 

Whatever you ultimately choose, you’re going to have to get your customers to agree to participate in your user research somehow. The best way to approach this is to provide them with some kind of compensation or reward. Of course, you can’t pay every single person who completes an online survey, but there are other ways to compensate research participants.

Offer them:

  • Free membership to your loyalty program
  • Free shipping on their next order
  • A coupon or discount code
  • A gift card 
  • An entry into a larger scale draw

Whatever you spend collecting customer data will be quickly recuperated when you use it to put together excellent user personas.

3. Decide On Your Focus

You can approach user personas from many different angles. Your industry will have a big influence on this. For example, tech industry user personas often focus on things like preferred apps and tech abilities, whereas fashion industry user personas might include topics like sustainability, shopping habits, and style preferences.

Other common user persona differentiations include goal-directed personas and role-based personas.

Whatever the case, be sure that you have the following elements clear before you start writing your user personas:

  • The action(s) you ultimately want your customers to take, as discussed in point one
  • Your user personas’ focus

If you have those two elements clear, it’ll provide direction to your user personas and ensure that they will be both intentional and highly effective.

4. Brainstorm your persona(s) with your team

Before you dive into writing your user personas, it doesn’t hurt to do a brainstorming session with your team. By now, you should have compiled and analyzed the data that came out of your user research. 

Use your research to brainstorm the different user personas that will best fit your business’s needs. Be sure that all parties involved agree on the results and take their feedback into consideration.

Tip: Slite's editor is well suited to help your team work asynchronously. Write, sketch or record yourself in videos to perform these brainstorming sessions.

Don’t make the mistake of stopping with just one user persona. In all likelihood, your customer base is composed of a diverse array of people. Be sure to brainstorm a variety of user personas so that everyone will be represented when you finish your work.

This is yet another reason why brainstorming is such a great idea. When a range of people work together to come up with user personas, they’re  likely to cover more ground and come up with more diverse profiles. 

5. Write your user personas… and don’t skimp on the details

We often tell people to keep their documents short and sweet, but it’s another story when you’re writing user personas. When you start writing your user personas, you should include as much detail as possible (as long as it’s pertinent to your business, focus, and goals). Do not skimp on the details here, and don’t be afraid to use a variety of metrics, categories, graphics, and the like. 

If you need help determining what kind of information you should include in your user persona, scroll up and consult our “What is a user persona?” section for guidance. 

Hopefully you’re working on more than one user persona. If this is the case, it’s a good idea to delegate. Assign different personas to mini groups so they can collaborate on a more manageable workload together. 

6. Review and edit your user personas

This should go without saying, but don’t underestimate the power of a good edit. Before you put your user personas to work, you should have other people on your team review them for style and grammar and make sure that everything is crystal clear.

Once you’re done with that, you’ll be good to go and ready to reap all the benefits that user personas can offer!

...voila! We hope you'll be be creating relevant user personas for your business in no time.

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