I recently participated in a webinar for TryMyUI in which I explained the process of building and using personas.

Here’s a full recording of my talk:

Here’s just the SlideShare:

Why Are Personas Important?

Personas are archetypal users crafted from data gathered during UX research. They are most commonly developed from user interviews, but actually they can come from any kind of data (e.g. usability tests, analytics, surveys, etc.).

Personas are important, because they help designs team see users as the messy, complicated people that they are. Some folks I’ve encountered think personas are a bit hokey, but actually they are quite powerful.

Here are just a few ways personas can be used:

  • As a means to depict trends in user research data in a non-numerical manner
  • As a means to design for conflicts between different types of users
  • As a means to hone a business model toward particular types of users
  • As a means of predicting how a certain type of user will behave
  • As a guide for developers when test users aren’t immediately available
  • As a means for talking about UX with a variety of non-UX stakeholders (investors, clients new to UX, customer councils, product managers, executives, etc.)

What Does a Persona Look Like?

There are a lot of different methods for creating, displaying, and using personas. Most personas have the following elements:

  • Name
  • Photo
  • Demographic info (age, gender, race, etc.)
  • User story: what details are specific to this type of user?
  • Key motivations: what drives this type of user to use a particular type of application?
  • Goals: what is this type of user trying to accomplish with the application?
  • Pain points: what does this type of user most often struggle with?

Here’s a great template for creating personas: http://learnshareprosper.com/tools/persona_profile_template.doc