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User profiles

Create a user profile based on your user research. You will be building up a profile of your users’ attitudes and behaviours.

Why create user profiles?


User profiles are a way for you to share information about the people you have conducted research with. Research must inform the creation of your user profiles. This is because research will challenge your own assumptions and biases about who your users are.

Prep timePeopleRun time
10 minutes1 or more1 to 4 hours

Preparation

As a user researcher you will be applying the insights you’ve gained from user research. Invite any other team members who attended user research to join you in creating a user profile.

Materials

  • Markers
  • Whiteboard
  • Post-it notes
  • Template

How to create user profiles


Your profiles will represent the shared experiences of a group of users. You should bring together user attitudes and behaviours in relation to a product or service. You can also include demographic information about the individual.

You can present your user profiles in a range of different ways using content that is relevant to the project. Below are some examples of types of content.

User snapshot

Try to include:

  • a user quote that embodies their strongest need, for example, “just tell me what I need to do”.
  • (the product or service name): use a phrase to say what it means to them, for example 'a safety net'
  • known attitudes in relation to their interaction with the product or service. Use 5-6 bullet points in the user’s words.

Describe the context that hinders or influences their task, for example, do they need to comply with a legal or legislative requirement?

User profile example
Create a user type or user profile. To begin, add a relevant image and a memorable quote that relates to this user. Describe the attitude of the user, their knowledge and literacy levels. Define what task they need to do. Describe their pain points and motivations.

A user characteristics gauge (in relation to the product or service)

Depending on the nature of the project you are working on, you may like to include a characteristics gauge. This will allow you to easily see the differences between each of your different profiles. The gauge can be a simple line that rates a participant from low to high. You can add the characteristics depending on what is relevant to your project. Here are a few examples.

  • Knowledge or expertise
  • Level of interest
  • Context of interest
  • Breadth of usage
  • Experience in related task
  • Digital literacy/format preference

Build on your profile by answering questions about their needs, pain points, risks and motivation.

Needs/tasks

What does the user need to do or find? What tasks do they do which are relevant to your project? The need will be goals that are aligned to an outcome.

Pain points

What are the obstacles that prevent them from being able to do the task? Are they being informed well enough? What other factors are preventing them from getting the task done?

Risks

What could go wrong if they can’t do the task or find the information? What is the impact of any implicationpersonal, financial etc.

Motivation

Why does the user want to complete the task? How is successful completion of the task going to affect them?

Follow up


Communicate your user profiles with the team. Profiles are valuable to ensure that what you are building or designing meets a user need. They are a reminder to your team and to stakeholders of who you are designing for.

User profiles are one part of the toolkit that you can use to communicate your research. You should ensure that you research any design decisions you make based on your profiles. Use other methods to do this, such as concept testing and usability testing.