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What is a persona?

7. June 2016

What is a persona?

Personas are fictional profiles representing a particular group of people, such as customers or employees. They should be based on research and often represent a group of people with shared interests, common behavior patterns, or demographical and geographical similarities. 

However, age and gender is often rather misleading, so be careful to avoid obvious stereotypes. Here are a few suggestions for your persona development.

Find realistic names

In western cultures, the first name is often connected to the age. To give you an example, let’s pretend that our fictional persona is a 50-year old German man. We know that this man might not be called Kevin, because this name is pretty modern and would not suit to the 60s, so we better call our Persona Hans. Hans Müller, because Müller is a very common name in Germany. What we want to tell you is, that the best way to create a persona that is leant on your target group is to empathize with your persona and reflect the characteristics of it.

Assumptions vs. research

Personas can be based on assumptions or research data (both quantitative and qualitative data). We distinguish between two different types of personas: ad-hoc and data-driven Personas. Ad-hoc personas are rather simple and quick personas often created during a workshops for example with frontline staff (e.g. support). Data-driven personas are based on research data from various sources, such as interviews, observations, design research, surveys, statistics, etc.

Here is a rough overview of the differences between Ad-hoc and Data driven personas:

data driven persona

Pro Tip: The bigger your budget, the more precise the definition of your target group should be!

Setup – How to create a persona

persona pen and paper template

A persona is generally defined like a real person. It usually has a name, description, and characteristics. Define which background (education, job position) your persona has, to make the description even more precise.

Pro tip: persona software helps to collaborate with geographically dispersed teams and quickly iterate on personas.

Katharina takes care of marketing and communications at More than Metrics. With her background in business and psychology she loves both logical as well as empathic thinking.
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