Persona

A persona is a model of a person that helps keeping key traits of users in the designer’s or developer’s mind by reminding them of their user’s needs and desires.

Purpose

To represent a customer segment in a more tangible way.

Outcome / Deliverables

A vivid and structured description of a prototypical user.

Detailed description

A persona is more than just a more detailed demographical description of a target group or segment. A persona aims to depict a user‘s circumstances, emotions, and objectives as vividly as possible.

Personas can either be based on market research or ethnographic observation. Where no research results or observations are available the designer‘s or development teams intuitions may be used as a proxy. Good Personas are realistic and not idealized to aid understanding a users’ context, behaviors, attitudes, needs, challenges/pain points, goals, and motivations when designing a solution.
Developing a persona: Work as a team to uncover as many aspects as possible from your research, observations or your intuitions. Put yourself into the persona’s shoes. Extract from your research or brainstorm using the Persona Tool and PostIts:
What are you – the persona – trying to achieve – what would you like to avoid. What is your point of view, what are your desires, motivations, emotions, and how do they relate to the task. Get visual! Use a large format or the Persona Tool. Employ photos, magazine pictures, and scribbles to depict the persona’s environment as lively as possible.

Clarify the persona’s needs by using e. g. “5-Whys” or “Why-How-Laddering”. Look for hidden needs and surprises. Make sure to cover social and emotional aspects!

Dos & Dont’s

  • Develop your persona jointly as a group.
  • Check: does the persona feel real?
  • Can you name someone like her?
  • Use the same persona(s) during the whole process from idea to delivery!
  • Do not use more than 3-5 personas for any project.
  • Avoid creating stereotypical people („plastic personas“).

Further Reading