Defining Persona for User Experience (UX) in Design

Steven Spielberg

Marketing director Angus Jenkinson developed the concept of personas for usability in 1990. He was seconded by Alan Cooper through his book around the same time as Jenkinson. It proposed designing software that is more defined for a specific group of users. Personas create more specific and dynamic products. (1)

Persona in User Experience (UX) aims to define relevant and realistic representation of the target user group for reference. This representation accounts the measurable and non-measurable elements which are derived from powerful web analytics and user research data. The efficacy and realistic nature of the persona is dependent on the user research that has been conducted to determine them. Personas represent the group of users who would use the product/website/application. It defines the major expectation of the most important user group, the usage nature of the group, and uncovers specific features and functionalities. Personas describe realistic priorities of the focused user group. (2)


The persona is a combination of various characteristics of actual users to form a specific user group. It is essential to provide guidance by telling stories about the user, and what he/she expects, so that strategic decisions can be made.
From UX perspective, the basic aim of persona is to uncover the tasks the user wants to accomplish, the behavior pattern, motivation behind specific behavior, and the purpose of their goals. From a business perspective, persona helps in establishing the goals of the business and synchronizes it with user goals for maximum benefit. It uncovers how users can be guided on the website for strategic advantage. (3)

Persona guides design thinking and is helpful for the interface design and development team who can gather requirements to redefine the design elements around the identified user group.

Persona does not only focus on what the user likes, or dislikes, but on their tasks. It takes into account what the user might not want to do and what kind of experience they would like to have. It defines the skill set of the user, the background, and environmental factors. This helps to establish user actions, aspirations, and behavior.

Persona focuses on things like the data required by the user at specific time period, how the user is dealing with the interface, and if they are concentrating on specific elements or giving equal importance to all of them. Are there certain elements that are capturing attention of the users?Is the user facing obstacles while browsing? What makes the particular website stand out in the user’s option list as compared to the competitor?

Certain Considerations

The user research group should not spend more than the required time in persona development and create copious documents with intricate details. Doing this consumes time and decreases the allocated time for design and development. The focus should be on motivation, competency, and user goals. Observing the user to uncover the key drivers is a good idea for persona development. This can communicate the essential requirements for creating a highly usable and functional interface for a targeted user group.

Benefit of Persona Build-Up

Businesses can focus on persona building to test the usability around real world scenarios and enable testing and prioritizing features and functionalities based on the test. The test can enable uncovering major downsides and uncover the new opportunities for the designer.

The cost of developing a persona is quite low as compared to other test options. Various new features and options can be uncovered and integrated with the design.Information developers can design predictable behavior-based interfaces that guide and direct users for desirable results.System architects, content writers, and design engineers can decide the best approaches for design and development based on uncovering hidden motives and expectation of the desired audience. (4)

Persona can enable designers to prioritize the major design elements. It can also resolve design redundancy and irrelevancy in an inexpensive manner. Continuous monitoring, evaluation, and validation can lead to more perfect designs that require less usability testing. (5)

(5)”An introduction to personas and how to create them.” 2 March 2004. Step Two Designs. 24 March 2015
(1,3)Sauro, Jeff. “7 Core Ideas About Personas And The User Experience.” 31 July 2012. MeasuringU Website. 24 March 2015
(2,4)Usbility.Gov. “Personas.” 2015. Usability.Gov. 24 March 2015

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