What is it
A descriptive model of a person (user, stakeholder, team member, etc), this tool is most often used to help a team define and understand the needs of its customer.
Why use it
- Understand users’ needs, motivations, limitations, and capabilities.
- Represent the full range of diversity among stakeholders, customers, or other groups.
- Ensure the final product is something a human being will need or want.
When to use it
When exploring new ideas or potential applications.
How to do it
Assemble existing research into current or potential users.
As needed, add your own evidence and data to the existing research by observing, interviewing, and/or profiling potential users. Be sure the cohort of users you interview represent the full diversity of your user group.
Build a collection of user archetypes, based on various categories of users. Give each one a specific name (e.g., Acquisition Amy), rather than a generic title (e.g., Military Technologist), and ensure each Persona represents a unique use-case.
TIP: The most useful personas are specific, not general. For example, rather than creating a persona of a “military member,” specify the persona’s service (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine), rank, specialty, level of experience, etc.
Add a stock photo or cartoon sketch of the described personas. You may want to add an invented quotation that summarizes a key issue, concern, or priority for the persona.
A light-weight representation of a user / sponsor / stakeholder can help build empathy for the people who benefit from the work or are otherwise involved.
- Generally requires some research – interviews, surveys, observations, etc – to develop an accurate answers.
- Users risk developing a superficial representation based on assumptions rather than data if they try to generate a Persona without research.