You need to conduct user research and in particular user interviews to gather information about your users. Once you have enough data from your research you can proceed to persona creation process.
Benefits of a persona
Using personas is a powerful tool to get settlement around your user archetype. It is about staying focused and satisfying real user needs. Personas are used during the product development process to make sure you understand their motivation and you are satisfying your user's needs. It helps you to communicate your design with stakeholders and justify your design decisions. Once your persona is developed it's a cheap and powerful tool for designers.
How does it come together?
There might be several user types using your application. They have different needs, backgrounds and goals. During the user research process you hopefully have interviewed enough users and you can spot overlaps and differences. These differences allows you to group them and find their motivations and goals.
Questions to ask during the persona development
- What is the motivation of this person?
- What is your daily goal? What do you want to achieve?
- What is he looking for in his job/life?
- What's his age/gender/educational background?
- What's his expertise level of software/tech?
- What kind of work does he do?
- What kind of person is he?
- What activities does he like? What's his interests?
Persona best practises
- Define the motivations and goals of your persona. This allows you to understand your users mind when you are using the persona.
- Create a story for your persona instead of bullet-pointing. It increases credibility so you can use him better.
- Make it realistic and don't use funny names. Personas are designed to back up serious decisions, so it needs to reflect that.
- Brainstorm and pair with your stakeholders to ensure the accuracy of your persona. At the end you need a common understanding and agreement about your persona.
- It is okay to have more than 1 persona: primary, secondary, etc. You can even group them. Although be careful with it, too many personas means it will be hard to satisfy everyone's needs!
- Too many personas mean you want to achieve too much with your product.
- Your persona must be a real-life example of your users: it has to be specific enough to be able to answer specific questions.
- It might be a good idea to group his attributes into 3 categories: Facts & Demographics, Needs & Goals and Behaviours.
- Don't overdo and don't be afraid of failing: you might be wrong with something related to your persona and you need to change attributes later. That's completely fine until the team has an agreement.
- Keep your persona at hand and don't be afraid to ask what's the best for him.
User Persona Creator
You can use UPC which is a great tool to use for persona creation process. It gives you blank template which you can fill and your persona is ready to go.