User Experience (UX) designers have a lot of tactics that help them create empathy with their users. While we have previously discussed using methods such as empathy maps, today I want to talk about a tool called an persona. A persona is defined by the Interaction Design Foundation as “fictional characters, which you create based upon your research in order to represent the different user types that might use your service, product, site, or brand in a similar way” (Dam and Siang, 2021). After interviews, surveys or any other form of research, you want to sit down and create a persona for all different users. It can help you sort and identify different buckets you can place your users in. These can also aid in providing different perspectives on all your questions about your users. Because they all are different people with differing needs, you can figure out all things you need to consider while designing.

As an avid clothing shopper with an interest in marketing, I am constantly thinking about how my favorite brands design their websites. I created two personas for American Eagle, a company with a target market for young adults. One was for a graduate student, Kelsey, with a full-time job. She’s already an avid AE shopper who is a rewards member. The second is for a high school student, Ally, who doesn’t always have access to her own money but loves hanging out at the mall with her friends and has shopped at AE before.

Demographics

The first thing that you should do when creating personas is to write down everything you know about them. These can include things such as age, location, job or characteristics. This should include a large overview of who they are as a person. You can include hobbies that might give designers a better idea of what a day in their life might look like. For example, Kelsey is a busy woman with a career. She has some disposable income and loves shopping. She might be visiting the website 1-2x per week looking at her options. As someone who works from home, she is looking for clothes that keep her comfortable in her home. This tells us that she most likely is shopping from Aerie, AE’s loungewear brand. On the other hand, Ally is a high school student who plays sports and spends a lot of her time scrolling on social media looking for the latest trends. She is looking for new jeans because recently, she’s found that skinny jeans are not what her favorite TikTok influencers are wearing. We can infer that she will be probably shopping for one or two particular pieces and not as often. We also know that she loves hanging out at the mall with her friends, so she may be shopping both in-store and online.

Motivation and goals

Next, think about what your user wants from your service or product. This is where you will try and uncover what they’re looking for. What brings them to your site in the first place? How can you help them achieve these things? It’s important to list goals as well as the current behaviors of your user that may help them achieve that goal.

Kelsey, as a remote employee, really is focusing on comfort as well as price. She manages her own expenses and wants to make sure she is taking advantage of her member rewards. She currently makes sure that she signs up for rewards programs whenever she shops somewhere new and is constantly comparing competitor prices. Some things that motivate her is the need to budget and to be comfortable, while some factors that may stop her from purchasing would be high shipping costs or having so many options that she can’t choose what she likes best.

Ally, as a high school student without her own income, is only really focused on what’s trendy. Her goal is find a couple super trendy pieces that she can show off on social media. She is not as motivated by price but by overall look. She spends a lot of time in the mall, window shopping and hanging out with her friends. She also follows a bunch of brands on social media, including American Eagle. She wants to be seen as trendy, but some factors that may stop her from doing that is not having access to a lot of money or not having enough time to look online for something to purchase and then complete that order.

Influencers

As part of their motivation, there may be certain people who hold weight in their decision making. It’s important to consider these influences. Kelsey, as an independent adult doesn’t need approval from parents on her outfits, but her friends opinions do matter to her. She may send them links asking what they think before she purchases. Also, since she is working (even remotely) her co-workers and employer expect her to be held to a certain standard while she is on the clock. When shopping, she may consider what pieces she can or can’t wear to work.

High school students spend most of their days at school, at extracurricular activities or hanging out with their friends. In Ally’s case, her parents pay for her wardrobe. She values her parent’s opinion and often considers what stores they may like. She also values her friends opinions, but instead of asking them their thoughts prior to purchase, she is thinking about what they may comment when she debuts her new jeans on social media.

Environment

Where is your user when they are using your service? It is important to consider whether they are on a smartphone or on a desktop because both provide very different experiences. Kelsey does a lot of her shopping on the AE app and loves being able to access it from anywhere. Ally loves the mall and often shops in person, but when she doesn’t she’s almost always on her laptop.

After forming multiple personas, you can begin to recognize similarities and differences that will provide vital information in your design process. Use them to identify areas you may need to adjust or highlight so you can improve your user’s experience.

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