Questions about developing a persona

Hi there,

I am in the process of starting the planning of a new local website. I am fairly new to UX but understand I need to create a persona to start my project. However I have a few questions on how I actually get the details of users to start my user research.

Should I create an initial questionnaire asking users their age, gender, profession etc as the basics and then ask them some questions that relate to the project, for example: how often do you look online to find local information?

I think my main concern is how I actually get the “personal” info about my user - age, gender etc. Or do I do a large questionnaire to find out the population of my local town?

And I assume this is the first stage in user research - to develop a persona?

Any advice would be helpful, thanks!

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I don’t actually know where you’re based, toolman. In the US, this information can already be gleaned from the last Census data, as it counted the age and gender of residents.

Be extremely careful of collecting this data yourself. There are huge privacy concerns about storing that kind of information about people. So much so that Europe went off and wrote GDPR.

Does the local paper have a website? Does the city? Can you contact them and ask for some of the basic data they’re aware of for their visitors?

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You probably want to start by asking yourself, “who is this website for?” It could be one group of people, like tourists, or multiple. Depending on your project, age and gender can be important, but not always.

Once you’ve made an educated guess on who you believe is going to visit your website, I advise you to find real people in your targeted demographic to do user interviews. You can find people online like in Reddit, Quora, or Facebook. Some people are willing to do it for free, especially if your product fits an existing pain point of theirs. The point is to figure out–is this something people actually want/need?

Surveys can also help answer that question. But even if you go the survey route, I still recommend in-person (or online) user interviews because you learn things that are hard to find in surveys. Good UX is both qualitative and quantitative.

Once you have proof that you’re meeting a need, then I would start the persona design.

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