Personas are models representing potential stakeholders who may use a product or service. Although they are fictional people, their characteristics, needs, goals and motivations are rooted in the insights and feedback collected from various sources including formal or informal interviews/surveys or through familiarity with the needs and interests of self, co-workers, friends or family members. They begin as early, provisional sketches and often evolve through iterations as more information is gathered.
Personas are behavioural models; they do not represent the full demographics of any given population of complex and unique people. They enable designers, developers and evaluators across a project to keep a broad and diverse collection of stakeholders in mind. Considering the needs, interests and daily tasks of non-obvious or untraditional users helps a design team to think broadly and stay open to unpredicted uses of the systems they are creating.
When paired with the other tools, particularly User States and Contexts, UX Walkthroughs, and Use-Cases, Personas can help to paint a clearer picture of a broad and diverse range of user needs and preferences. They must be developed and used with care in order to avoid stereotyping or fictionalising the user, and they must be tempered with the awareness that no single persona or group of personas can independently determine the full range of potential uses of a product or service.
- Think about various users in your domain with unmet needs
- Imagine a user, inspired by people you know, that is unique and doesn’t simply represent the norm, the average, or the typical
- Draft the first version of your persona. Give them a name and describe their life, needs, preferences, likes and dislikes
- Re-iterate and evolve your persona as you collect more feedback from potential users and/or stakeholders