User Research Techniques: Personas


Personas (Photo credit: nicolasnova)

What are personas?

Personas are representations of imagined people who model a target audience. For example, if you are selling vacuums, a persona might represent a common purchaser of vacuums. Personas often include an image, name. Personas typically include demographic information such as age, gender, occupation, and income. Personas carry other information, such as user goals, concerns, motivations, and expectations.

Personas are not a research method, but rather a tool built from the knowledge gained from other user research techniques, such as surveys and usability studies, and are an asset in the user experience process.

Why build personas?

Personas can help build team empathy by creating an abstract version of the ideal user. When you are working on design or having team discussions, it is useful to refer to the persona by name to make sure you are thinking of who is using the product first.

How do I build personas?

There is not a one size fits all approach to building personas. We recommend at least giving each persona a name. Some advocate for only one persona per company. We recommend having one persona for every major type of user, but no more than five. Some advocate for including demographic information. We recommend including the five major attributes of a user: their goals, how they expect to carry out those goals, the resources (time, money, effort, data) they are willing to expend to do their goal, what motivates the goal, and finally how the user feels about their goal. Include common concerns. You might want to include what language this users would use to describe concepts, such as followsubscribe, or speed up.

What are the caveats of personas?

Every user is different, and no persona could possible represent even one whole person, let alone millions! But fear not. Our brains aren’t wired to think about large groups optimally. Personas take something large and bring it down to a personal scale so we can make more effective decisions.

See also:

If you haven’t made your personas yet, what are you waiting for! Get started today!


  1. Simone Borsci · December 6, 2013

    Reblogged this on Simone Borsci.

  2. Pingback: What is information architecture strategy? | Transformative Research

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