It's often difficult for product design and marketing professionals to target a specific demographic, especially if they're unfamiliar with the behaviors and needs of these users. User personas are helpful for overcoming this challenge.
What Is a User Persona?
Simply put, a user persona is a fictional character that you develop to help better understand your target audience. Many businesses choose to create user personas to help simplify the design and marketing processes of their product, service or branding; with defined user personas in mind, it's much easier to create and market a product or service specifically for real people who may mirror the fictional characters.
User personas are fabricated people, but they are designed to be as close to the target user as possible in regards to personality, likes, dislikes, needs, wants and behavior. The best user personas are usually quite detailed, though sometimes a basic persona better suits the business's needs.
What to Consider When Creating a User Persona
When creating a user persona, you'll want to include both personal information as well as more specific details.
- Basic info: Name, gender, age, location, income and family
- Career info: Job title, responsibilities, future goals and challenges
- Behavior: Communication preferences, responses to various marketing techniques and influencers
Once you have these items outlined, you should brainstorm ways that your product can meet this person's needs. You should also include any possible objections this user might have about your product. Finally, develop a marketing strategy that targets this user persona, keeping their needs and objectives in mind.
How Many User Personas Does Your Business Need?
When it comes to quantity, there's really no hard and fast rule for user personas. Each business is unique, so you'll need to analyze your own goals to decide on a set number. In general, though, most companies use at least two personas.
Also keep in mind that more is not necessarily better. While you should consider basing the number of personas on the number of audience segments you're hoping to reach, too many personas can create confusion and a lack of focus. If you have 10 possible segments, it's best to narrow the number down to somewhere between two and five.
When implemented correctly, user personas can make all the difference for your design and marketing teams. It may be difficult for each team member to visualize the end users for your product or service; user personas give them a clear vision so their work becomes more focused and effective.