Building a User Persona | Climax Media

Building a User Persona

How to build a persona for your user that makes sense

Whether you’re building a website, content strategy, UX for a new tool… whatever it may be, one of the crucial earlier steps is to create the persona you are targeting. An archetype of who would use the tool or read the content that would find it valuable and easy to consume. Meeting a persona’s needs gives you an idea in advance if it will work for your target market. Creating them can be difficult though, you often end up in an echo chamber where the persona can’t possibly exist or is too closely aligned to the marketer’s goals instead of being genuine.

"User's don't care about your business goals, they only want to see what's important to them..."

Emotional Base

The quickest way to get started is with an emotional base that can actually exist. I don’t like to rebuild the wheel with these or create something from scratch when you don’t need to. I tend to start with a Myers Briggs profile that applies to my target market. These provide a series of useful emotional states that can be catered to and built off of. Often I mix these with other archetyping exercises to flesh them out a bit more but Myers Briggs is a common enough base.

Statement

A mission statement for the user is often helpful, typically I like to put these in the contexts of a quote, something the persona might actually say in a real conversation. This gives a quick at-a-glance idea for executives to understand the persona and why it exists. Examples include “I’m looking to save money on my cable bill because cash is tight” or “I’ve got a tight deadline and I need [X] right away”.

Goals

Goals are where it can get murky for marketers, they often make them too closely aligned to their marketing goals. To get away from this, it’s beneficial to review join/leave surveys, website analytics (specifically user flows), media targets and any other studies you’ve done on your customer base. Draw from these the information you see as common earlier in their journeys or what the psychoanalytics or psychographics say in media targets. Typically, 3-5 goal types are a good start to keep you focused.

Pain Points

Pain points are another challenge for any marketer, the best source of these can come from your customer care surveys and join/leave surveys. These give you real context as to why someone would leave a business like yours or why they chose to go with a certain product. Identifying these pain points isn’t always fun, it involves asking tough questions and looking introspectively. Your business may not solve every pain point, and that’s OK. Don’t short change the persona to make yourself look good.

That’s not quite it…

There’s a lot more that goes into these than just an emotional base with a statement, goals, and pain points, but these elements give you the skeleton of how to approach the content each persona needs to see. Understanding these are vital to modeling your analytics approach. If you have any questions on personas, or would like to run through the exercise with our team, feel free to reach out to brendan.philp@climaxmedia.com.