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Personas introduction There are many ways to identify the needs of users, such as usability testing, interviewing users, discussions with business stakeholders, and conducting surveys. However one technique that has grown in popularity and acceptance is the use of personas: the development of archetypal users to direct the vision and design of a solution. (Calabria, 2004) Working with personas implies a user-centric approach: We have to put the user first, and build a product that wants to do a great job for the user. As a consequence, the product becomes a means to an end. It exists to serve its users. (Pichler, 2012)

Personas, is a term utilized in design and usability analysis to identify specific customer profiles. Every business has a need! Yet, consumers have needs too. This tool, Personas, is a journey to really understand the customers’ needs in order to answer to services/businesses’ necessities. The great thing about personas is that they invite us to view the product or services from the user’s perspective. This helps us design a product that truly benefits its users and all so the business. Because, with personas, we can shorter the design cycles. Which improve the management process, by the fact that design and marketing efforts can be prioritized based on the personas, as also, disagreements over design decisions can be sorted by referring back to the personas. And at least, designs can be constantly evaluated against the personas, reducing the frequency of large and expensive usability tests. Personas are archetypes built after a preceding exhaustive observation of the potential users. Why should we take full attention to costumers’ needs instead of fully regard our attention to the business’ needs? The answer is Empathy. We should build empathy with our potential customers in order to raise conditions to achieve both business’ and costumers’ goals at the same time. If the service/product does not meet the business’ needs, then, the solution applied was not the most accurate one. Nevertheless, to achieve a stage of empathy we need to understand the costumers first. And to do this, the best way is to use this helpful Design Thinking Tool – Personas.

The main purpose of Personas is more then just demographic information. They are relatively quick to develop and replace the need to canvass the whole user community and spend months gathering user requirements. As also, they help avoid the trap of building what users ask for rather than they actually use it or buy it. One example, which Tim Brawn habitually presented in order to explain this last stance is the story of Henry Ford. We could speculate that Henry Ford had the mind of a design thinker, for the reason that instead focusing on the customer wishes he took the challenge further. Henry Ford conveys this point of view when he is quoted as saying, “If I’d asked my customers what they wanted, they’d have said ‘a faster horse’” Brown (2009, p.66). We can ask end-users what are their needs and wishes are, but according to Tim Brown their actual behaviors can provide us with valuable clues about their essential needs. Design thinking became a tool applicable to different stages of design processes. Personas capture a person’s behavior, beliefs and philosophy. But more importantly, this tool captures a person’s motivations and/or intentions. Personas represents the needs of a larger group of users, in terms of their goals and personal characteristics and expectations. By using Personas we are providing to the team the opportunity of users’ goals and needs becoming a common point of focus for them. Giving that, the team can concentrate on designing for manageable set of personas knowing that they represent the needs of a user’s cluster. Which represent an opportunity to improved product quality.

what is? Personas are fictional profiles, often developed as a way of representing a particular group based on their shared interests. (Stickdorn and Schneider 2012, p.178)

why is it used?

Each persona is based on a fictional character whose profile gathers up the features of an existing social group. Nevertheless, even though being founded in a fictitious profile, Personas is always based on the knowledge of real users. Personas is used in order to apply fictional user perspectives thorough and systematically during the designing process. True to its etymological roots, the development of personas in design replaces individual features with typological generalities. To personas may be attributed traits according to the typical demographics of age, gender, class, race, and so on — but as we discussed earlier, these are not the focus of the tool.

Market segmentation is an invaluable tool for identifying groups of people most likely to use our product or service. However, market segmentation is not designed to provide insight into how the product or service needs to work and how it is best designed. It is in this gap that Personas appears as a viable tool to produce high-quality results. According to Stickdorn and Schneider, the most common way of developing personas is to collate research insights with common and shared group interests. For that reason, Personas is a collation of feedback produced during the research stage of a project, and this process is focused in the real-world perception surrounding the business activity.

Personas can provide a range of different perspectives on a service/ product, allowing teams to define and engage different interests and/or groups that may exist within their target market. (Stickdorn and Schneider 2012, p.178)

A successful Personas should be based in an engaging profile, and this could be achieved by a wide range of techniques. In order to bring these characters to life, we can go from a visual representation, to detailed hypothetical profiles. Once the personas’ characteristics have been identified and translated into a prototypical client or user profile, they are usually used in the design process to help visualize fictive contexts of use or scenarios. NOTE | Read more about the difference between Market Segmentation and Persona development by Elaine Brechin from Cooper Interaction Design.

which are the benefits?

Personas are not real people, but they represent real people through the design process. Introducing Personas into your research project will bring value data to your goals, such as: ∫∫ Users’ aims and necessities grow into a clearer vision and understanding to the team’s focus. ∫∫ The team has the advantage of designing for a manageable set of personas knowing that they represent a sample of certain users’ needs. ∫∫ Personas help to avoid the trap of projecting what users ask for rather than what they will actually use or buy. ∫∫ Design efforts can be highlighted grounded on the data collected through Personas. ∫∫ Disagreements over design and project decisions can be sorted out by referring back to the Personas data.

conclusion references

Personas are nothing in themselves, it is when a persona enters a scenario that this method proves to be valuable. To know more about Building Scenarios, wait until we release later this tool.

Brown, T. (2009). Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation. Harper Collins. New York. ISBN 13: 9780061766084 Calabria, T. (2004). An introduction to personas and how to create them. Step Two Designs [web log]. Retrieved September, 2013, from Nielsen, L. (2007). Usability: How To Create Effective Personas. Retrieved September, 2013, from http:// Pichler, R. (2012). Template for Writing Great Personas. Pichler Consulting [web log]. Retrieved September, 2013, from Stickdorn, M. and Schneider, J. (2012). This is Service Design Thinking. BIS Publishers B.V. Amsterdam. ISBN 13: 9789063692797

Design Thinking Tools by Joana Cerejo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Based on a work at

Personas Guide