If you are building a product, chances are you noticed someone experience a pain point or experienced one yourself and figured you could solve this problem with a new product. To validate that this pain point is in fact real and shared by many potential users product managers need to figure out who are the potential users of the product and begin to understand as much about them as possible. User personas is a documented card for each potential user of your product which lays out who they are, what problems and pain points they experience and their goals in a solution to solve those problems. The process of creating a user persona helps a product manager better identify with customers and understand what it is they need and how to solve for it.
Additionally, any given product may have many different potential customer segments and each potential customer segment may have similar but not the same type of problems or pain points that they are trying to solve for. The daily routine of a small business for example may be very different than that of an enterprise business and therefore while generally speaking the pain points are shared, the specific goals and how to achieve those goals with a solution may vary. User personas give product managers a way to articulate who it is the product is meant for and what specifically they are trying to solve for with their features and the product roadmap they are laying out.
So how do you create a user persona?
Start with learning who your customer segments are. To create a user persona you really need to take a deep dive into your customer segments and study them. Learn about their day to day routines. What their normal workflow and use cases are and how the pain point they experience impacts their process. Complete user interviews with potential customer segments to learn as much data about them and their needs as possible. Document what you have learned, review this with your team and share your understanding with stakeholders to ensure you have identified who the various groups are and their specific pain points and goals.
Here are the key factors to include in your user persona:
User Persona Name: Start to really segment your potential customers so narrow down the specific features one group needs to be successful within your product. Create names for each distinct user persona.
Bio: In addition to the name, give a description of your user persona. Who is this user? What does their background look like to you? What is the demographics of your potential user? Any specific traits about them that stand out?
Goals: What is it the user wants to be able to do in a perfect world to make their life easier. Bullet out the items they need to have to make life easier for them.
Pain Points: What is getting in their way of their goals today. What are the problems they are facing which is making them challenged?
When you create a user persona with the information above for each of your customer segments you start to get a great understanding of what features your product needs to have to make sense for them. You also learn more about how to better design out the flow of your product based on their usage and goals in a dream state. Additionally, you can use the data within a user persona to help with marketing to ensure you are reaching the right audience for you product and communicating the pain points and value you provide to a specific targeted audience.