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5 essentials for your user persona template (with examples)

4 min read
Tony Ho Tran  •  Mar 22, 2019
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A good user persona template helps you get a full idea of who your target market is—and how your design, product, or services can help them.

Here’s what a few might look like:

That’s because they help you get to know:

  • Your user
  • Who they are
  • What they like
  • What their pain points are

Once you have a good idea of who your user is, you’ll be able to tailor your design exactly to their needs.

While you can create a product without one, it’s difficult.

It’s like driving to a destination without a map or GPS. Sure, you could probablymake it there, but you’re much more likely to do so if you knew the directions.

That’s why we want to break down what exactly a user persona template is and give you the exact elements you need to include in it—with plenty of examples, of course.

Let’s jump in.

What is a user persona?

A user persona is a representation of your target user.

Like this one here:

User personas are profiles of your ideal customer. Designers use them to help understand a number of things about their customers, including their:

  • Goals
  • Background
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Behaviors
  • Spending habits
  • Pain points
  • Needs

And once you have a fleshed out user persona, you can use it to guide all of your design decisions. Ultimately, this helps you create products and designs that sell themselves, because they address your target user’s exact needs.

This comes with one big caveat, though: Creating a user persona is not an excuse to avoid talking to actual users.

I’ll say that again:

Creating a user persona is not an excuse to avoid talking to actual users.

The biggest mistake designers can make when crafting their user personas is making the entire thing up—and it’s a mistake that happens often.

Chris Thelwell, director of product design at EY-Seren, penned an article for inVision a while back lamenting the over-reliance on user personas:

“From my experience working with several teams and many digital products, I’ve learned that not everyone likes doing user research. The reason might be that they ‘just know’ what the customer wants, they’re frightened of what they might find out, or they just don’t see the value.

“Your target users’ pain points should influence your design decisions more than anything else.”

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[…] Once teams have a persona, it becomes that excuse—to not talk to users—they were looking for. Having a persona is no substitute for user research with actual users.”

At the heart of the problem is the idea that many user personas create a host of unchallenged assumptions that designers will take as fact about their users.

And when you don’t challenge your assumptions, you miss out on who your users are and what they want from your product.

A better way to create user personas

How do we solve the problem of “fake” user personas? You talk to your customers.

That means spending the majority of your time conducting smart user research.

Laura Klein, author of UX for Lean Startups, put it best:

“We don’t just interview 100 people and then start designing. We take that knowledge and condense it down into a picture of our ideal customer.

Sometimes we turn it into several different people with different needs if we have different groups of customers, but producing a coherent design for many different types of users requires that we consolidate people into groups that reflect who they are and how they use our product.”

“User personas offer the opportunity for you and your team to really get to know your target user, and they can help inform and guide the design process when you remember to incorporate extensive user research.”

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To help you out, be sure to check out our resources on conducting research below:

By creating your user personas this way, you shift from user personas filled with unchallenged assumptions with one that is grounded in reality. (And you can use InVision Freehand to create the template).

With that, let’s take a look at the bare essentials you need to create your user persona template—with plenty of examples.

The 5 essentials to a good user persona template

Below are the 5 essentials to a user persona template that will help you crush your next design project.

1. Bare necessities

Source: Xtensio

Your user persona template should always include an area for basic information about your user.

This information includes things like:

  • Personality image
  • First and last name
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Where they live
  • Job title
  • Marital status
  • Number of kids
  • Archetype (more on this later)
  • Short biography
  • Personality map

This is going to be the basic demographic data about your user, along with a short bio snippet. The goal is to give you a quick snapshot of who they are.

Of course you aren’t trying to capture the information about absolutely every one of your users here. That’d be impossible! You’re just trying to put together an archetypeof a typical user.

That’s why you should also include an overview for the user in the basic information section as well, sort of like a nickname. How would you describe your user?

If you find your target audience are typically active workers who try to glance at your website during rare downtimes, you might call them “The Busy Browser.”

Or, if you’re targeting young creatives who are still in school, you might have “The Art Student.”

Whatever works as long as it captures your specific archetype.

2. Pictures

Images can tell a bigger stories than any amount of copy can. Once you give your persona a face, you humanize them. This gives you a much better idea about how your design and products can impact this person’s life.

Try to capture your user’s age, gender, and personality in the picture. Are they an entrepreneur sitting in a coffee shop working on their laptop? Or are they more of a suit-and-tie C-Suite exec?

One great place to find free images for your user persona is Unsplash. You can simply search “persona” or descriptors fitting your user persona and find the images you need.

3. Personality

Source: Xtensio

Describing or showing your user persona’s personality can really help flesh out who your user persona is and guide your design decisions for them.

You can approach this section in two ways:

  1. Myers-Briggs. This is a great opportunity to include information about your persona’s Myers-Briggs personality type, giving you insight about how they view the world.
  2. Descriptions. You can even just give a description of how they are in real life. Are they funny? Sarcastic? Ambitious? What kind of personality does your user have?
  3. X-Y Axis. Where are they on the range of extroverted and introverted? Thrifty or luxury? Urban or rural?

Simple bullet points can suffice, or if you want, you can use elements like the slider in the example above.

4. Goals and motivations

Source: Behance

This section is where you put all of your user’s goals and motivations related to your product.

That means that if you’re designing a fitness product, you probably wouldn’t want a user persona that included a goal like, “I want to increase my income by 10% in the next six months.” Instead, they’d probably have a goal like, “I want to be able to run a 5k by the end of 2019.”

What is motivating your user persona right now? What could possibly, realistically, drive them to your product? By finding out their goals, you can answer these questions and find out exactly how your design could service them.

5. Pain points

Source: Dribbble

Your target users’ pain points should influence your design decisions more than anything else. That’s because they give you an indication of how exactly your product can help them.

And, like the goals section, this should be related to your product.

What are they struggling with? What frustrates them to no end? How is your product or service going to help solve these issues for them?

You can dig even deeper and ask, “What scares my customer?”

By finding their fears and frustrations, you’ll be able to start designing the answers for them.

Other things you might include

“Describing or showing your user persona’s personality can really help flesh out who your user persona is and guide your design decisions for them.”

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Of course, there are plenty of extra things you can include in your user persona template. As long as it’s in line with your goals and helps you find out exactly who you’re designing for, feel free to include it in your template.

Some elements you might consider:

  • Channels. These include social media platforms, websites, and even browsers your user uses on their regular day-to-day.
  • Quotations. A great opportunity to draw from the research you did (or should have already done). Include an actual quote from someone you talked to. This can give you a good idea of what they’re looking for in a product, and how you can account for it in the design.
  • Favorite brands. What brands do they love? What are they buying regularly? Knowing the brands your user typically turns to can greatly influence how you design your product.
  • Favorite books, magazines, or blogs. What’s in your user’s media diet? What are the types of things they like to read often?

Your user persona is going to be unique to you and your design goals. So don’t worry if your persona is missing an element another business uses.

7 great user persona examples

Now that you know exactly what goes into a great user persona, let’s take a look at a few great templates you can use to inspire your next persona.

NOTE: You’re going to notice that a few of these personas don’t have all of the essential elements we listed above. In fact, a few of them entirely subvert the essentials—and that’s totally fine.

The point is that you create personas that fit your business’s design needs. If it doesn’t conform to what another template says you should do, that’s great! Use the examples below as inspiration for your next user persona.

“Your user persona is going to be unique to you and your design goals. So don’t worry if your persona is missing an element another business uses.”

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1. Xtensio

Source: Xtensio

Xtensio offers a great template with seven sections to help you cover your user’s profile. It’s also incredibly intuitive, with tools that allow you to easily adjust the layout of the template, as well as a feature to add other team members to edit the template.

2. Hubspot

Marketing automation company Hubspot has their very own persona template creation tool. It works on a “plug-and-play” model that takes the hassle out of creating your persona. The only downside is you can’t customize the picture. However, there’s an “Add New Section” button that allows you to easily add more elements that you want but aren’t immediately offered.

3. Andrea O

Source: Dribbble

A great user persona template from designer Andrea O. The spartan design integrates the image of the user in with seven elements. Great for giving quick snapshots at who exactly your user is.

4. Mailchimp

Mailchimp delightfully subverts expectations of your typical persona. Instead of having neat sections for each of your user’s elements, they just have a single profile with their name and job title. Surrounding the user are words that describe their personality, goals, and struggles. This example leverages typeface as well as copy in order to adequately get across who the user is.

5. Shopify

Source: Dribbble

Of course, you don’t necessarily even have to have a picture of your user if you can capture them in a creative illustration, as designer Janna Hagan did for Shopify. These trading card-esque user personas both subverts the expectations of what you’d expect from a user persona while providing all the information the designer needs.

6. Antoine Fromentine

Source: Behance

This user persona template is very unique, as it relies heavily on visuals—rather than copy—to get their user’s personality and interests across. This specific template was created for a developing music platform, which is why elements such as the music usage images for mobile and laptop are included. A very creative way to get across how these users might use their product.

7. Jason Travis

Source: Flickr

Photographer Jason Travis does something unique with these personas and showcases what the user carries with them. This is an entirely visual persona that tells a story of who this person is through the things they own. A very good way to approach a user persona if you’re designing for physical products or if you want to look at your user from an unconventional angle.

Which template should you use?

User personas offer the opportunity for you and your team to really get to know your target user, and they can help inform and guide the design process when you remember to incorporate extensive user research.

With so many user persona templates to choose from, it might be hard to decide. But as long as the template fits with your goals, it’s fair game.

Just remember: Don’t 👏 sleep 👏 on 👏 user 👏 research 👏👏👏

If you want an easy platform to create your own template, try InVision Freehand. You can collaboratively create personas, mood boards, and more.

Want to learn more about user research?

  • The UX of user research surveys
  • How user research guided our design for an AI assistant
  • 4 types of research methods all designers should know