Anatomy of a user persona

Damien Lockner

User personas are archetypal representations of user profiles. They facilitate the identification of user needs throughout the project conception lifetime.

A user persona is a one-page representation synthetizing the features, the expectations, and the issues of a specific user group.

The personas method is particularly easy to use, and therefore it takes part of most of our projects.

Personas are useful for three reasons:

  • As a shared representation of the users. The whole design team, but project holders as well, will gain a shared vision of the targeted user segments.
  • To favor empathy. Personas have their own identity, their own name, their own history. Thus, the designers work for a clearly identified person, and not for an abstract entity. User needs thus become easier to handle, and the proposed solutions gain quality.
  • As an assessment tool. "Could this solution reach Henri's expectations?". As personas display use goals and elements of use cases, they may be used as an assessment support throughout the project.

However, some precautions must be taken when designing a persona; bias and prejudices should be avoided, as well as useless cumbersome details.

Spicy Life thus proposes you a little practical guide to facilitate persona building.