dwp logo

Methods – Persona

method picture
What it is:

Personas are imaginary characters – based on real people – that represent user archetypes. They are developed to understand user lifestyles, aspirations and needs, and often appear in scenarios as fictional players. The aim of a persona is to illustrate the user’s behaviour patterns. Personas are often assigned a name, photograph and some basic information about their life. The persona should be believable to the viewer and can both stimulate new design concepts and help to validate them.

Input:

Expertise:

Time:

Staffing:

Costs:

Low | Medium | High

Low | Medium | High

Low | Medium | High

Low | Medium | High

Output:

Bringing people’s needs and user data to life for the designer

Best suited to:

 

DISCOVER

Early to mid stages of the design process

Bringing a typical customer to life

Justifying the value of innovations with different stakeholders

Testing ideas when you do not have access to real users

Characteristics:

DESIGNING FOR | WITH | BY PEOPLE

Type of interaction:

LEARN | LOOK | ASK | TRY | IMAGINE

Goes well with:

Scenarios, Interviews, Observations & Shadowing, Probes, User Diaries, Day in the Life

What designers say

‘Personas are a powerful exploratory and storytelling tool. They let you examine a scenario from the perspective of another person and imagine how they might feel or act. Personas need to be carefully constructed, based on first hand experiences of real people and their patterns of behaviour…’  Cian Plumbe, Studiohead

Examples

casestudy icon
Connected Car: sustainable and inclusive mobility

Filip Krnja created 15 personas to explore the role of the electric car in the city. These provided rich inspiration for a series of design concepts looking at the car of tomorrow.

Read more

casestudy icon
Switching On: creating energy solutions for India

Arthur Schmitt worked with Legrand to create four generic Indian personas – a rural farmer, village-based entrepreneur, suburban worker and slum dweller – to drive the generation of a series of design concepts around electricity delivery.

Read more

Background and further reading

Personas started life as a tool or method of market segmentation. The term persona is used widely in online and technology applications as well as in advertising. Other terms such as character profiles and design typologies may also be used. As J Grudin and J Pruitt (2002) explain, ‘Personas are a method for enhancing engagement and reality. … a means for communicating data that is collected using other user research methods’.

Pruitt, J & Grudin, J (2003) Personas: Practice and Theory. DUX ’03 Proceedings of the 2003 conference on Designing for user experiences.

This paper outlines the authors’ use of personas at Microsoft giving background to persona development and case studies of use in small and large multi-disciplinary teams.

Hanson, J., Bichard, J. & Greed. C. (2007) The Accessible Toilet Resource, UCL. London.

This design resource describes how to work with users in the development of personas through interviews and focus groups and includes 42 text-based personas.

Kecman M, Gheerawo R & Scott R. (2007) ‘Generation Game: Making Wi-Fi devices more inclusive’ Include 2007, RCA, London

This paper describes how personas played a part in developing new communication technology for a generic multi-generational family.