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And also when is useful to use each one of them?

  • U can use the personas to identify your audiences for user testing/usability testing. – Rob H. Yamin Jan 7 '17 at 20:15
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This is a good question as you will find people have mixed responses about this.

The way I have viewed this and multiple agencies and companies I have worked at also view this is: User profiling is a collection of data from analytics that you use to create a set of profiles based on data and behaviour on your site.

So for example say I have an e-commerce site, I could look at data/analytics that shows me three groups of customers: high spenders, repeat customers and passive customers, within those three profiles I could then analyse what amount of my customers sit within those, their average age, their average spend, etc and come up with something like this (example):

  • High Spenders: Average order value £90, average yearly orders 12, average age 45-50.
  • Repeat Customers: Average order value £40, average yearly orders 4, average age 35-50.
  • Passive Customers: Average order value £50, average yearly orders 1-2, average age 28-32.

This obviously is quite vague information but gives you an idea and a goal for your objectives, which could be getting more Passive customers to be Repeat customers and then maybe doing a marketing campaign or some A/B testing etc to reach this goal.

Where as personas describes a representative (but fictional [Based on some comprehensive site data!]) individual rather than an entire group, a persona would have specific details of age, interests, location, similar brand interests, etc. This is great for writing things like tone of voice and defining your customer to your business or site.

So their is a big difference between the two but both can co-exist and complement each other in your user research if you understand the difference.

A good source I found that also gives you some insight in to this and that I feel explains this best is here: http://www.tandemseven.com/blog/benefits-of-using-personas-and-user-profiles-together-8/

  • I disagree that personas are fictional (although I acknowledge that many are). Alan Cooper invented the persona concept, and he dedicates a whole chapter to how you create them in his book About Face 3. Cooper says Personas are created based on research and he describes a process you should follow. – SteveD Jan 4 '17 at 13:36
  • @SteveD When describing fictional, we do quite literally mean 'fictional', as in it's not an actual person that exists in real life. I did state in my comment that the personas characteristics are created based on some comprehensive site data. – BoneStarr Jan 5 '17 at 11:44
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    When I said "fictional" I should have qualified it a bit more by saying most personas are not based on any research - you are correct that the persona is not an actual person that exists in real life, but the characteristics behind the persona should be based on research from lots of real people. – SteveD Jan 5 '17 at 11:52

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