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User Personas: 9 Best Articles Ever Written

User personas are the key to understand your target audience. They are the result of qualitative and quantitative researches combined. Creating user personas can be helpful in many fields, including UX design, market segmentation, content marketing, and SEO.

It may be challenging to come up with the right user persona for your business. We know that, and we come with help!

We curated the best articles written on the topic so far, and present you in two sections, The WHAT and The HOW of personas. In the WHAT section you will find articles defining what user personas are, and in the HOW section you will find articles on how to create user personas.

You can also check our presentation below to easily reach the articles. 

The WHAT

Personas: The Foundation of a Great User Experience on UX Magazine

UX Magazine

Keyword(s): persona investment

Kevin from UX Magazine covers the basics of personas in the article. He starts with the description of what a persona is and moves on by explaining how personas are built. The article aim is to explain the importance of how the personas can be investments.

“Strategic, forward-thinking organizations can build personas as a subset of other research, but when conducted properly as a standalone project, the investment in persona development is somewhere between $80,000 to $120,000.”

He emphasizes that the personas should be updated frequently and the companies should maintain a consistent dialogue with their customers to maintain the personas as living and breathing documents.

Defining And Applying Personas to UX Design on tutsplus.com

tutsplus.com

Keyword(s): core audience, fringe audience

Rather than focusing on defining and implementing user experience personas this article casts a light on the core audience for your personas. By defining your core and fringe audience you can cover a large portion of the user base. The article continues on by explaining why mental models are important and what the outcomes of implementing optimism and cynicism to your personas could be.

“One thing to look at for personas is the level of optimism and/or cynicism in your users. One shows what it looks like for the user when everything goes right. The other can help shed light on what happens when something goes wrong. That can be caused by user error, system error, as well as user delinquency.”

Smashing Magazine

Keyword(s): goal-directed design

This highly shared article consists of two parts. Shlomo Goltz carefully constructs the article by starting with what persona is and moving on to the role of personas in the design process. The article tries to answer all the questions that anyone can be willing to ask about personas.

“If you still aren’t convinced that personas are useful, you are not alone. Many prominent and outspoken members of the design community, including Steve Portigal and Jason Fried, feel that personas are not to be used. They make compelling arguments, but they all rule out the use of personas entirely, which I feel is much too strong.”

Stressing on the people’s perspective, the article ends by stating that personas help to keep a designer honest and to become mindful.

Introduction on User Personas on Miro

Miro

Keyword(s): user-centered design

If you are looking for an article that covers the basics of UX personas with simple language, this one could be a good choice for you. You can learn that the origin of user personas came from marketing field as a tool designed to categorize customer segments based on the knowledge about customer’s daily life, needs and desires.

“A user persona is basically a fictitious character that represents the user of a service or a product. Although a persona represents the major group of users (it is not based on one of your users, which you have just interviewed), it describes one character, not a general group of characters.”

The article provides the main elements of a Persona with a well-created template.

The HOW

A Closer Look at Personas: A Guide to Developing the Right Ones (Part 2) on Smashing Magazine

Cooper

Keyword(s): interview, design

There is nothing more valuable than data which has been tested and refined over the years. In the second part of the article, Shlomo bases his ideas on the processes developed at the interaction design agency Cooper. Step by step, the article presents you real life examples while telling you how to carefully develop personas. Learning from real people, the article pays great attention on how to craft the best questions to ask them in order to shape your persona.

“Learning everything about participants is impossible within the limited time available for interviews and observation, so try to ask the most advantageous questions and observe the most relevant behavior.”

Salesforce UX

Keyword(s): real life data, user value

This article written by Salesforce UX team tells the opinions on creating effective user personas at first hand. At this point, it is a bit different than the rest of the articles presented here as it proceeds more like an interview. In each step, the article is supported with the insights coming from the experts.

“In order to know your user space or define any meaningful segments, having knowledge of real world scenarios is key. Every person I interviewed recommended using a combination of quantitative and qualitative research to define and develop a realistic persona base.”

Userpeek personas

Keyword(s): real life data, research

Data is the holy grail of research. Without data, your research is worth nothing and without real life data user personas become useless. This article provides you insightful tips on how to create user personas by using real life data. Choosing the right approach will benefit you the most in the process of creating user persona as it is mentioned on the article.

“How do you get data needed to build actionable user personas? Start to talk with your potential clients first. There is no specific number of interviews you should conduct – it depends on diversity of your target audience. It’s good to set up a few face-to-face meetings first to get insights into their core needs, goals and objections.”

usabilitycounts.com

Keyword(s): competitor analysis

The article written by Patrick Neeman starts with him asking a question: Who are we designing for? In order to find the answer to that question the article tells the approaches on how to create personas by including real life examples. The article tells how to come up with user stories by learning from competitors.

“I worked on a project that was e-commerce based. Much of the research I performed was based on other e-commerce websites that had customers close to the client’s target audience. Not only could I glean a lot of best practices the other sites had spent time perfecting through their usability, but I could also develop an understanding of the merchandising and content strategies they used to reach their target audience. From this I developed provisional personas and very targeted user stories.”

KISSmetrics

Keyword(s): SEO, CRO

In this article, Rob Millard tells how SEO can benefit from user personas. User personas can help in finding the right keywords, creating the right content and identifying targets for link building. Rob uses examples of personas to explain how personas can be applied to keyword research and link building.

“User personas can also be a useful tool when creating and implementing a link building strategy.  When link building, the basic goal is to create and promote content that you think your target audience would like to share.”

He ends the article by saying that personas can also be used to come up with guest post topic ideas. You can use them to find out what sort of sites your personas might use and what kind of content they might like to read.

Personas are an extremely valuable source of information, which becomes more and more valuable in various areas. However, in order to be effective they need to be extensive and detailed, so they cover every aspect possible. Only thanks to details can we expect the personas to be a successful tool.

We hope that you found the articles useful and helping. If there is any article that we missed, please add it on the comment section below.

Torsten Tromm

About the author

Torsten is CEO and founder of Userpeek. He is an old stager in the online business with 20 years of experience as an online marketer, conversion rate optimizer and UX strategist.

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