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How to conduct user research by Joel Marsh

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Chapter 9. Creating User Profiles

Just like marketers have a target audience, UX designers have user profiles or personas: descriptions of users, based on research.

What a Profile Is Not

First of all, let’s nail down what personas or profiles are not:

  • Personality types

  • Demographics

  • Characters in your “brand story”

  • Stereotypes based on your experience

  • Shallow or one-dimensional

  • Concepts

  • Predictions

So, What Is a User Profile/Persona?

Profiles or personas describe the goals, expectations, motivations, and behavior of real people. Why do they come to your site? What are they looking for? What makes them nervous? And so on. All the information you need should be in your research and data. If you can’t back it up with research or data, you’re just making shit up and you should stop.

Bad profile

Persona A is a male, between the ages of 35 and 45 with an above average income and education. They have at least one child and own at least one new vehicle. They are outgoing and career-oriented, and tend to be right-brain thinkers.

Why it’s bad

That might be great if you’re selling ads, but as far as UX goes, that profile is basically useless. Why? Because it doesn’t allow you to say “no” to any feature ideas. What sort of features does a male between 35 and 45 need? It could be anything!

Useful profile

Persona A is an experienced manager, mostly interested in one or two areas of expertise. They visit often, but they are pressed for time, so they focus on “collecting” content to read on the weekends. They tend ...

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