Category C: Personas

Category C: Personas

What is it?

Personas are fictive “persons” typically described by a name, age, income, interests, family relations, day-to-day descriptions and a picture. A persona consists of data from several informants and represents a segment in a target group. The method is suitable for portraying the beliefs and needs of the segments, and the advantage of using personas is that you have a virtually “real” person to develop your service or product for.

How is it done?

Find out which target group the personas are to represent

You begin by finding out how the target group is composed. Questionnaires and structured interviews are effective tools. Use the methods to study your target group and divide it into segments.

Create your personas

Based on the composition of the target group and the material from the initial analysis, you create the personas to represent an average user in each segment. Use a profile picture to visualize the segment. The actual person on the picture can easily be completely outside of the inquiry and should represent all the users in the segment. 1-5 personas are adequate and the number of personas varies depending on the inquiry. Focus on the main target group and create enough personas to describe the main segments. The number of personas should reflect the target group so you should let the material determine how many personas you need. Personas should be as close to a real person as possible as it is much easier to keep the beliefs and needs of the target group in mind when they are as plausible as possible.

Use the personas

Once the personas are created, you can use them as tools for developing your product or service in accordance with the beliefs and needs of the user group.

What does it take?

Time frame

The method can effectively be conducted in 1-3 days. You should set aside at least 5 hours for creating the personas.


  • A computer to gather and process the data for the personas
  • A picture of a person to represent the persona visually.


The method takes 1-3 employees. They don’t necessarily need to have any specific skills. The method is furthered by a structured approach.



Suzanne owns a restaurant but it has had fewer guests lately. She wants change the profile of the restaurant to solve that problem. She decides to use personas to learn more about her target group and how to expand it.


Suzanne uses a simple questionnaire and 3 semi-structured interviews to gain a general view of the target group. From these preliminary investigations, she finds 3 main segments and creates one persona for each of them. She creates a 45 yr old businessman, a 22 yr old university student and a 60 yr old retired pedagogue. Based on the questionnaires and interviews, she assigns them an income, a day-to-day description, a family situation, a picture and a name.


Suzanne uses her personas to get an impression of their beliefs and needs. Then she considers how she can change the profile of the restaurant and focuses on making small changes that will meet the needs of the personas.


Using the data from the preliminary inquiries and the personas, Suzanne changes the restaurants profile. She decides to offer a students discount to appeal to the students, wireless Internet to suit the needs of the businessman, and a weekly debate night to better suit the needs of the elderly woman.

More on the method

Personas are especially efficient in combination with questionnaires, interviews, experience testing and ethnoraid.

Further readings on personas:

Courage, Catherine (2005) – Understanding Your Users: A Practical Guid to User Requirements Methods, Tools and Techniques – UK: Morgan Kaufmann