Personas create reliable and realistic representations of key users, they:

  • Are based on real research, not a stereotype
  • Represent a group of users with shared needs or problems
  • Contain insights that are context-specific and task-orientated

A persona should answer the question, “Who are we designing for?”

Key components of a persona


Template of a persona undergraduate student called Alex. This includes the key components of a persona: name and image; goals; motivations; pain points and needs.

1. Name, image and description

This information should be relevant to the research focus or design challenge, e.g. their role, attitudes, expectations.

It is useful to focus a persona on behaviour rather than demographics. Demographic information often introduces bias to decision-making processes and stereotypical assumptions should be avoided.

2. Motivations and goals

End goals are the main driving force and determine what the persona wants to achieve.

3. Pain points

When performing various tasks, where does the persona experience frustration? These pain points are specific problems to be solved.

4. Needs

Well-defined goals and pain points should help to identify user needs and design requirements.

5. Quote

A quote enables readers to quickly emphasise with the persona as it gives insight into their feelings and personality. Don’t make the quotes up; use insights from user interviews or workshops.

Step-by-step guidance

1. Gather existing user data

There are usually many good sources of information available across the University. Spend time gathering and reviewing the most relevant data that you have access to.

2. Determine research methods to fill in the gaps

You will become aware of gaps in the information you have access to. Further research may be needed to build useful personas. Research methods may include interviews, surveys, service safaris or an empathy mapping workshop.

3. Analysing the data

Using the user research data you have gathered, tag your key components [e.g. pain points, needs, goals]. Both the needs of users and the business are important to ensure a balanced and effective persona.

4. Identifying trends

Looking at the tagged data:

  • Where are there overlaps?
  • What are the differences?

At this stage you will probably see more than one persona emerge from the interview data. What user will you map? If you have multiple users, there should be an persona for each.

5. Build the personas

Use the Persona template to display the key components of the persona information.

  • Name, image and description
  • Motivations and goals
  • Pain points
  • Needs
  • Quote

6. It’s important to share the personas

Help stakeholders get to know your personas by creating interactive activities for familiarisation.