# Personas

# Phase: 🔎 Problem seeking
Focus: Synthesize


Time commitment: 1-2 days
Difficulty: Medium
Materials needed: Existing info on users' primary use cases, typical journeys, pain points, and ideal end states
Who should participate: Users, user experience designers, product/project owners, community specialists
Best for: Consolidating user discovery into easy-to-reference "cheat sheets"

# About this tool

Personas can help a team establish standardized, agreed-upon representations of your audience segments that can be referenced for consistency throughout the design and build process. Because they are based on a combination of quantitative research/analysis and quantitative insight gathering (through exercises like empathy interviews and "I like, I wish, what if"), they provide a good "north star" when making mid-stream decisions about items that affect users — as well as surfacing the need to do further research or testing on a decision if it's not rationalized within the confines of a persona.

Develop personas as early as is feasible in a project, because they can inform everything from detailed functionality decisions to more broad aspects like experience gaps or opportunities for new directions. Depending on your project's needs, personas can be role-based (focused more on the social, personal and professional context of a particular user archetype) or goal-based (limited to categorization based on the types of interactions that an audience segment archetype will have with your product or service). To get started ...

  1. Gather all the research, context and testing artifacts you already have on the project/product and its users in a way that's easy to review. The more of these artifacts you have, the less likely you are to create stereotypes that you may need to back out of at a later date.
  2. Review the artifacts in order to cluster your users into a set of archetypes. These could be based around functional goals or use cases (like package manager maintainers, package publishers and package manager users), or social, cultural or professional ones (like Tech X newbies with limited development knowledge vs developers who are just new to Tech X). Keep these broad in order to avoid the risk of making overly specific recommendations at this early stage of your design process.
  3. Match the goals, motivations, pain points and user behaviors you see in your research/analysis artifacts to each archetype as appropriate.
  4. Once you've assigned each archetype a useful number of relative attributes, flesh each one out in a systematic, standardized fashion; make sure that if someone needs to compare multiple archetypes, they can do so in an apples-to-apples way. You can lay out personas (opens new window) in a variety of different ways, but be sure to make them easy to digest quickly (they're a 10k-foot overview, after all) and easy to identify with ... you may even wish to give them names or photographs! Be sure as well to link out to any research or analytics to support the decisions in your personas.