What are User Personas? Why did we create them?
Updated: Sep 4, 2018
A User Persona is a semi-fictional representation of an ideal web user, resulting from market research whereby various kinds of data are collected through different methods.
The data reflect complementary strengths and non-overlapping weaknesses, allowing a mixed methods study that provides insights not available through mere qualitative or quantitative data collection. It is essential for successful web-based projects to identify and profile User Personas at a very early stage. This enables appropriate planning for information architecture and design aspects while allowing the business model(s) of the website to correspond closely to the needs of future users (rather than the assumptions of web developers).
User Personas are also an essential aspect of web content creation and strategy. Such personas will allow us to select the most appropriate communication channels for providing target groups with relevant information. This way we won’t need to rely on assumptions, subjective evaluations or pure luck!
The aim of creating User Personas is to analyse the needs, preferences, values, and goals of each persona to help them more easily achieve their objectives in a more engaging way when using the web portal.
Identifying groups of User Personas
It is necessary to classify User Personas according to one dominant criterion that clearly identifies and describes the nature of the persona. Identification of groups of User Personas allows us to choose the best approach for obtaining supporting information – needs, values, goals and other aspects. Further, it enables identification of the main channels through which representatives of this group will be reached and the derived UX metrics adapted to the needs and aims of each group.
By knowing the nature of each group, it is possible to identify the best approach for reaching out to them and understanding them. The methods for gathering information are surveys, interviews and secondary data analysis.
After gathering and analysing information from expert interviews, stakeholder surveys and secondary data analysis, a single User Persona is created for each of the groups identified. This represents the common traits of the defined group.
The profiling for each UP includes:
Information about the user – name, occupation, education level, etc. – to envision the persona
Goals regarding the project
Interests and needs
Values and ideals
Habits and activities
Communication style preferences and channels
The outcome of the analysis is a characteristic profile for each group: one extrapolated User Persona that represents the common essence of the whole group as closely as possible. User Persona profiling helps our developers to design appropriate information architecture, analyse habits and activities, evaluate UX metrics, and develop filters for real future users. Further, the UP information informs the business model and communication strategy so that we can reach the right stakeholders in the right places at the right time – with the right content.
User Persona groups
The two main UP groups are space sector professionals and non-professionals. The data for the professionals varies considerably according to the type of organisation the person belongs to.
For instance, SMEs’ goals and needs differ considerably from those of research institutes and large companies. Therefore, we divided professionals into several UPs.
User Persona comparison Professionals vs. non-professionals (citizens).
As for the non-professionals, we created just one UP, since their goals, needs, interests and habits are quite similar. Meanwhile, the profiles of the two largest groups taken as wholes are of course quite different. For this reason, in filling out the survey, respondents could identify themselves as professionals or non-professionals, with the result that some of the questions differed.