I've seen a lot of really 'pretty' personas online. but my question is how to build personas based on real users. how do you gather the info to create a persona? Is it from interviews, observations, surveys or usage data? and how to you translate this research into the personas.
I create user personas mainly using user interviews and contextual inquiries. If available, I will also use data from the analytics software to support my findings during the interviews.
The way I translate the research into personas is basically looking for patterns. I interview 25-30 people when I do a new round of user interviews and I look for similarities in their behaviours.
For example, if I am building an eLearning app and I ask the users about domain knowledge (how familiar they are with such activity) and most of them answer that they don't usually learn this way but they want to, then I add that in the user persona so everyone knows that the domain knowledge of most of our users is low. This will affect our design decisions when building the first prototype.