USER PERSONA

Six most common persona creation pitfalls and how to avoid them

Katerina Kondrenko | 5 min read

Creating a customer persona is not about crafting the most good-looking and neatest one. It’s about creating the persona that works for your business and helps to build an effective customer journey map, track your customer’s path, and gather insights to improve your products, services, business processes, and grow ROI.

If you are eager to build a customer-centric culture, create an exceptional customer experience, and grow customers’ LTV, creating personas should be next on your to-do list. We gathered six most common persona creation pitfalls and the recommendations on how to avoid them to improve your persona creation process and help you rock the market.

Pitfall 1: Wrong goal

Question to ask: Why do you need personas? How are you going to use them?

Let’s start with the basics. Persona is a fictional (yet reality-based) and generalized portrait of a typical representative (so-called archetype) of your target audience cluster. A deep understanding of the target audience is fundamental to creating exceptional products and services. Creating a persona helps you know your target audience better, divide it into specific clusters, highlight their peculiarities, reveal problems and motivations, and learn how to help customers achieve their goals with the help of your products or services.

Pitfall 2: Treating personas as one-fits-all artifact

Question to ask: Whom are you building your product or service for?

Remember, horses or courses. Personas can have a broad or narrow scope and one persona can’t fit all your business tasks. Broad scope personas (based on a shallow customer data) will work to help you decide on your business and market strategy, involving all your business lines. But if you want to, let’s say, redesign one of your products, you need to create a narrow-scope persona that represents a group of customers who are interested in this exact product.

How many personas should you create? It’s great to have personas for each product or company level, however, this should be situational. The primary rule is, if you want to influence the decision-making process at a particular company level, create a specific persona.

A website visitor sample persona create in UXPressia Persona Creation tool

Pitfall 3: Choosing the wrong segmentation type

Question to ask: How do the clusters of my target audience differ?

Imagine you coming to the greengrocer: how do you differentiate the products there? Someone can say there are fruits and vegetables. Another can say there are some products of green, yellow, and red color. Both are right—it just depends on the classification you choose.

The initial step in creating a persona is to divide your target audience into different clusters, each one with specific customer characteristics. Here are some approaches you can take while defining these clusters:

  • marketing segmentation (demographics, consumer behavior);
  • segmentation based on behavioral attributes (needs, goals, pain points, etc.);
  • jobs-to-be-done segmentation (desired outcomes, better life description, etc.).

While choosing a segmentation approach, keep the initial goal and your context in mind, as they actually drive your segmentation. An important note here: remember that marketing segmentation won’t work for you if you want to improve customer/user experience, so take advantage of using other approaches.

Pitfall 4: Intent to create a perfect and detailed persona right away

Question to ask: What are everyone’s basic assumptions about persona?

Rome was not built in a day. Instead of investing loads of time in researching and building the most accurate persona, you start with creating a proto-persona — a lightweight draft based on your assumptions. This proto-persona can be of use for brainstorming with a team, showing the essence of a persona to your clients or stakeholders, clearing and summarizing the team’s assumptions, getting new insights, and preparing for the deeper research of your target audience.

Pitfall 5: Using one format for all persona profiles

Question to ask: What am I using the persona for right now?

Your persona profile should not be stagnant. Tailor it flexibly to your exact task — creating multiple versions of the same persona is absolutely okay. Make short (for presentations) and long (for sharing with a team and ideation) versions and add or remove the details based on your current needs. You can highlight some specific parts of your persona to sell the idea to stakeholders or clients, or focus on some specific problem while discussing with a team. Just remember, there is no “the only one” right structure to keep to.

Pitfall 6: Seeing persona creation as your final stop

Question to ask: How can I actually use it? What is my next step?

Having a persona is like having a hammer, however, it can’t batter a nail by itself. A persona is not a magic wand that automatically improves your business. Creating a persona is an essential first step, but don’t forget there’s a halfway ahead. So think of using a specialized user persona creator to streamline your way to creating personas.

Once you have persona profiles in place, organize the meetings to ideate and plan out the improvement of your product or service. Use personas to facilitate the discussion and share the insights with your team, so that everyone stays on the same page. Now you are ready to move on to building a customer journey map — a visual representation that depicts the stages your customers go through step by step when interacting with your company. List the processes involved in the customer journey for future review and improvement. These can include, for instance, validating the onboarding email sequence or tailoring creatives for ad campaigns, keeping a persona’s perspective in your mind.

What’s next?

Forearmed with this knowledge, you can now review your current persona creation process or build a new one from scratch. Set the goal, keep your focus, and craft your best persona for any business need you have.


About Author:

Experienced content creator with a passion for research, French bulldogs, and British cats. Katerina has an economics degree but prefers letters to numbers. She has been exploring different audiences for popular culture projects, was involved in the creative development process, and now she’s playing on the CX field.


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