One of the ways to distribute the data collected during Usability Research, and to tell the story of how the product will be used is to create Personas. A persona is a fictional yet believable person that represents real customer information and a segment of real users. They resemble several of the people that were interviewed but they don’t exactly match any of them. Personas are the stars of the Context Scenarios and Storyboards that are used to share the product vision.¬†Personas are used to communicate user goals, behaviors, and beliefs. The characteristics of personas should be traceable back to real user data.

Involve Users
In order to create a persona you must start with Research,  performing User Interviews or Contextual Inquiry is the best way to get qualitative data about users. The type of information you want to gather about your customer will shape the questions you ask during the interview process. Interviews can capture characteristics of users such as behaviors, philosophies and feelings that cannot be easily gleaned from quantitative data.

I recommend recording interviews via audio or video recording. If you are interviewing about contextual processes, there will be a benefit to being on-site at the users environment, however some interviews about demographic information can be conducted remotely over the phone or online. Its important to be professional and prepared during these interviews.

Example interview questions:

What is your job title?
What does your day usually look like?
What hours do you keep?
What are your top priorities?
Who are your customers?
What keeps you up at night?
What tools do you use?
How did you get into this field?
Where did you work before here?
What are some of the things you enjoy the most about what you do?
What are your favorite resources for new information in this field?

Once you are done with the interview you should have a briefing session to share the experience with other project collaborators. Behavioral variables should be identified for each interviewee, and the recording that was made should be transcribed into a spreadsheet. This information can also be used in an Affinity Diagram. Make sure that you perform several interviews to collect enough data to find emerging patterns.

When you create the persona you need to have enough data to fulfill the following criteria:

Behavioral Variables – characteristics of the persona
End Goals, Life Goals and Experience Goals
What constitutes a good day for this person
Experience Themes & Elements that emerged from research data
Domain knowledge and subject matter expertise
How does the item being designed help the persona

You may be asking do personas help make design decisions? — By answering if the product aligns to users goals.

End Goal – Describes what the persona wants to accomplish (based on research insights.)
Experience Goal – Describes how the persona wants to feel while using the prouct itself (based on inferences.)
Life Goals – Describes how personas want to be as a result of using the product (based on inferences.)

If there are different people identified with a project that have different goals, you will want to create multiple personas for that project. If there are enough of them, you may want to create a persona map to show their relationships with each other.

Example persona types for computer software, each person will have their own goals:

Software Sales
Advanced User/Administrator
Software Buyer
Novice Software User

User Experience Skills

Design from the User's Mental Space

Usability Research

Customer Visits

Contextual Inquiry

Card Sorting

Task Analysis

Design Hypothesis

Heuristic Evaluation

Demographic Research

A/B Testing

Make Data Meaningful

Data Synthesis

Affinity Diagrams


Information Architecture

Mental Models

Interpretation Sessions

Context Scenarios

UX Elements and Themes

Socialization and Governance

Interactive Prototypes

User Requirements

iRise Simulations

Lo-fidelity wireframes

Responsive Design

Style Guide

UX Architecture