There are many online guides and tools which can help you create a persona. We at Narrandum like to think that we have made one of the best persona generators out there. Certainly it's a little different from the competition. But to get the most out of it, you might need to learn more about the process of persona creation, so that when the time comes to make your own, you're equipped with the right information.
If you'd like to know how good user personas can help you understand your customers, and build your own with a fun tool which also allows you to create customer journey maps, read on.
Where to start with creating a persona
First things first: do your homework!
Yes, we know you think you understand your customers' needs, goals and motivations. Maybe you've got expensive marketing research that tells you all about them. But we'll let you into a secret - those researchers probably asked the wrong questions. And the respondents didn't really think about the answers they were giving, because they didn't really care. You might be basing your entire approach on information that looks thorough and authoritative, but in reality is misleading or downright wrong. Yep, sorry, you might have wasted all that money.
But how can you tell if you've got the wrong idea? There's nothing else for it – go out there and talk to your customers. Whatever assumptions you have, you need to validate them. Don't fear this stage of the process – embrace it.
This validation exercise can often be done more quickly, cheaply and easily than you might expect. The aim is to form testable hypotheses as early as possible, so that you can see if you're working along the right lines before you commit to a long, slow, expensive programme of product development. If your early hypotheses turn out to be wrong, it's a good thing, because you've just saved lots of money that you would have spent creating something people don't want.
So think of how you can reach potential customers, and get to it! Maybe you could call up friends or family and ask them some structured questions. Failing that, just go out in the street and talk to random people – you'll be surprised how cooperative they will be if you go about it the right way. In any case, get up from your desk and go find those potential customers.
A small incentive for your participants always goes a long way, so think about what you can do to reward them. You can't go wrong with money or vouchers, but failing that, people will go to incredible lengths for the promise of free beer or pizza.
Identifying customer archetypes
First-hand knowledge of your potential customers is obviously essential, but it can be a little hard to work with in its raw state. Real people are complex things, and don't fit neatly into demographic stereotypes as marketing research would have you believe. On the one hand, this is what makes them so interesting. On the other hand, without clear trends and patterns, it's hard to make decisions and get things done.
A balance needs to be found between creating personas which are relatable, and representative of real customers, and more one-dimensional customer profiles which leave out most of the nuance in favour of providing clear direction. If we pack too much irrelevant details into our personas, we won't be able to see the wood for the trees. But don't leave out all your customers' individual quirks, because these are the things which make us care about them, and taking their uniqueness into account can be the difference between a good customer experience and a great one.
So when creating personas, we suggest concentrating first on making sure that they capture the broad characteristics of your customers – age, occupation, location, but more importantly their hopes, needs and motivations. Once you've got that, sprinkle a little magic on top by working in some of the small nuggets of information you picked up along the way. Remember that customer interview where someone said they always cook the same things because they're afraid of messing up a new recipe? These are the details which can make your product stand out from the crowd if you keep them in mind throughout the design process.
Building your personas in Narrandum
Got the knowledge? Ready to get going? OK, let's do it!
First, sign in and create a new story. The screen will look like this:
Narrandum allows you to do things in any order you like, so we don't need to worry about adding any details to the story just yet. Instead, we're going to go straight to creating a persona. In the vertical menu on the left-hand side, click on the theatre masks icon third from the top. This will take you to the "cast" screen. If you've already created any other characters in Narrandum, or even used an "example" customer journey templates, you'll see those characters here, and you can reuse them in this story if you like. But we're going to create someone new, so click on "Add a character".
A new character should appear, imaginatively called "New Character". Their gender and appearance is chosen at random to start with, but you can change that to whatever you like, along with every other aspect of their character. To get started on that, simply click on them. You should see something similar to this:
Turning this empty shell of a person into a well-rounded, interesting character is fast and straightforward with Narrandum. You can give them a name of your choosing, or if you don't want to spend time on that, simply [click the dice icon](/guides/naming-personas) and let the app come up with something unique for you. Other things like age, occupation and location are pretty self-explanatory – and if they aren't, just click on the question mark icons in the app for extra guidance.
The "role" field deserves a little more explanation. This can be anything you like, but most people use it to summarise the character in just a couple of words. Perhaps a job title, or something that describes their interests. Anything that adds a little colour to their profile and makes it easy for an outsider to understand the part this persona plays in the customer journey.
If there's anything else you'd like to say which doesn't quite fit in elsewhere, the "profile" section is where this information belongs. Write as much as you like here, but be careful not to repeat yourself, as Narrandum's story engine can't make use of what you say here – it's for human consumption only.
Next we get into the slightly more interesting part of the profile. The two sliders for "digital savvy" and "sociability" describe in broad terms what kind of a person this is. Do they prefer to get things done face-to-face, or by using digital devices such as smartphones or computers? Pull the slider from side to side and give them a rating. The values you choose here will have some bearing on how happy this character is over the course of the customer journey, depending on what happens. If you're not sure, you can just leave these set to the defaults and they won't affect your story.
Traits allow us to really get into the details of our characters. Traits allow you to define their personality. There's a large (and growing) list of characteristics, each of which has a short description to help you decide if it applies to your character. You can choose as few or as many as you like, and see what effects they have on the outcomes of your story.
Finally, we have skills. These are a great way to add some colour to our characters by showing not only what they are into, but how experienced they are. So your persona might have taken up fishing recently, and really enjoy it, but still be a novice who has quite different needs and expectations from someone who's been doing it all their life.
The process of developing personas is pivotal to creating customer journeys which result in successful products. If you take the time to get to know your customers, Narrandum lets you build them into your journey maps, with all the little quirky details which make them so interesting. If you've created a character you're proud of, why not [contact us](/contact) and let us know?