How to use a persona template. Step-by-step guide.
When you’re creating your user persona, using a template can save you a lot of time. In this post we discuss how to use persona templates starting from scratch and how to avoid the most common mistakes.
You can freely download here the template you see below.
This is the first of two articles on the basic elements of UX. The first article is on personas and the second on customer journeys. If you want to read the article on the customer journey you can find it here.
Why you should create a persona
Creating personas helps you understand who your ideal customers are and what matters to them. This makes it easier to craft a proposition that truly matches their needs. Data shows that creating personas is one of the 3 UX activities with the highest business return.
As Invision puts it, creating a product without a persona template “is like driving to a destination without a map or GPS. Sure, you could probably make it there, but you’re much more likely to do so if you knew the directions.”
So if you want to create user-centric products or services, a persona template is your starting point.
How to start with persona templates?
If you want to start defining a persona you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. There’s many good persona templates that can guide you.
The best suggestion I can give to you is to start with one and then experiment with a couple of other persona templates. This way you’ll discover which one is a best fit for your needs.
The template created by Miro is a great one to begin with. It’s free to download and very clear to use. In the next part of this post I’ll give you some tips on how you should use it to make the best out of it.
First, how to download the template. Create a free Miro account. Then you only need to open a Miro board and select the icon “templates” as shown below:
Then type “persona” in the pop-up that appears. You’ll then be able to import on your board the persona template. You can import the persona template either blank or pre-filled with examples.
To make things easier, I created a png version of the template that you can freely download here.
How to fill your persona templates
Let’s have a look at how to fill each block of the template. We’ll use the one from Miro, but you can use any template you prefer. Keep in mind that if you don’t have data from your users, you’ll start filling the boxes with your assumption. The more you’ll learn from users, the more you’ll refine these assumptions.
The “persona” field
If you’re using the persona template from Miro, the first block you see is the one with the demographics. Miro calls it “persona”, which might be confusing. The demographics are indicators like: age, job, studies, etc.
Demographics are often mistaken as a full persona description. However, they’re just one of the elements to consider when filling the persona templates.
Reason to use and buy the product
The first field answers the question: what is the problem your product solves? The second one focuses on: why specifically your product?
Although the two questions are very similar it’s good to keep them separate. Users may have a very good reason to use the product you sell but not to buy it specifically from you. Another case could be that your product solves a problem, but users would not pay for it. This means the problem is not strong enough. That’s something you should solve.
Another reason why these two are separate is because there are cases in which the buyer is not the user. Think for example of toys for kids.
Personality and interests
These two fields are fundamental to understand what users really care about. Personality is related to traits such as introversion, extroversion, curiosity, scepticism, creativity etc.
Interests are concrete things like: running, techno music, sewing etc. Interests can also be related to work.
When you fill these two fields, don’t just amass random personality traits and interests. Try instead to select the ones that matter for your product.
Think e.g. of a dating app. You may want to focus on personas that are open minded if you assume that these personas travel more and are more willing to meet new people. You may want to focus on religion if you think it’s easier to date people who approach fundamental aspects of life as you do. Or maybe you don’t think this way, and these aspects are irrelevant for your product. Whatever you do, ask yourself why you do it.
Skills and tech savviness
Skills and tech savviness influence the usability of the product. Skills are things your users can do or have learned to do well. Tech savviness is how well they fare with technology.
Tech savviness deserves some attention, especially if you’re a tech company. You should go beyond just answering yes or no. Instead think deeply about what your users can and can’t do. There’s a difference between writing a Powerpoint presentation and using a WordPress plugin. If you’re creating WordPress plugins, then knowing that your users has a good command of Powerpoint is not enough.
Other skills concern detailed aspects of everyday life. Communicational skills, organizational skills. Think of all the organization tools that are exploding nowadays: Asana, Notion, Trello etc. Who’s their ideal user? Someone very organized and detail oriented? Or rather someone in desperate need for organization?
The 7 boxes you find in the Miro templates capture quite well all the main aspects to consider when creating a persona. You can now better understand who your users are and what drives them to use your products.
You are now able to create a description of your persona starting from scratch. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different kind of templates and use your assumptions when you don’t know something. Use it as a trigger to run more experiments and dive deeper into the knowledge of your users.
Read here the second article on customer journey.