Create Persona Documents

Create persona one-pagers (or slides)

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In  Step 1: Intro & Orientation, I recommend that you give participants a preview of the persona template.  Wile the graphic design of the document is up to you, I highly recommend including all of the information in my templates.

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None of the persona details in the slide above (except for the weighted score / priority) will not change very much over time.

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The personal documents aren’t complicated, and most of the information on them is created during (or as a direct result of) the workshops.

Alliterative, descriptive name.

There’s a lot of debate about names in the world of personas. After lots of experimentation, I’m an avid proponent of alliterative names with descriptive last names. In the best of all worlds, all of the people working in your company and on your project would have lots of time and interest in learning everything there is to know about all of the personas. But this simply isn’t reality. I like to remind myself that my colleagues have around one brain cell to devote to the personas. Or maybe one brain cell per persona, if I’ve done my job well. Using alliterative names, each with a different first letter, helps everyone remember the names. And the names themselves then carry at least a little information about the personas (like Sonia Storyteller, or Drew Dreamer).

When you create the names, let important stakeholders help choose the first names. You are going to carefully select the descriptive last names, but the first names don’t matter as much. Having important people in the organization help with naming can help with buy-in.

Photo

I always use inexpensive stock photo websites for persona photos. I collect 5-10 potential photos for each persona and put them on a slide or a sheet of paper. I ask key stakeholders or workshop participants to help choose the photos.

Photos are where issues of diversity come up. When I choose photos, I try to be as diverse as possible. If the persona has not yet been identified as male or female, I find both male and female photos to consider.

Alan Cooper said that all things being equal, personas should reflect diversity in age, ethnicity, gender, etc. And I agree. But they should also be realistic.

Category of user

Category of user is not always necessary. In our Alignment Personas Example Materials, the Travel Gems team found it useful to think about content creator / contributors as distinct from consumers / communicators. Some of their goals had to do with converting consumer / communicators to contributors.

If your product has more than one interface, you should include which category the persona belongs to. For example, for online presentation software, there might be categories of presenters and audience members.

Weighted score for this project

This is the only piece of information on the persona document that is absolutely tied to a single project. You’ll find that many sets of Alignment Personas tend to be evergreen, or at least relevant across several project, even though you created them for a single project. That’s one reason that the persona template doesn’t contain a lot of project-specific insights; this simplicity allows your colleagues to focus on the “person-ness” of the persona rather than their relationship to your product.

Meet the persona

These paragraphs are always tricky. For me, it quickly became relatively easy to picture the persona in my mind and write a little story about him or her. It may not be as easy for you, at least the first few times. Choosing the information that goes into these paragraphs can be tricky. The best advice I can give is to try to picture the person, and to work with a colleague when creating these descriptions. Talking about the persona can help you develop a clear picture in your head. Also, limit yourself to 2-3 short paragraphs. This is not a place to try to convey tons of data cleverly disguised as a description.

Persona’s wants and needs

You’ve already done these! Look through the wants and needs that inspired you to create this persona. While you should keep the full list available on your spreadsheet, Choose the most important ones to include on your persona document. In our Travel Gems examples, we limited ourselves to 5-10 wants and needs.

If you need to include more wants and needs, create 3-5 headings to keep the wants and needs organized and easy to scan. I have worked on projects that include up to 20 wants and needs, arranged under 5 headers, on a single persona.

Project-specific information you can add later

Once the personas are completed, you can brainstorm ways to address the personas’ wants and needs. You can also work with the marketing or brand teams to talk about value propositions and differentiators that will appeal to each persona.

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