Oh the coveted ‘persona’ seems to be in every blog, book, and talk on interaction design, user experience, and innovation.

Why does it bother me? I guess for how personal it’s supposed to be, it feels impersonal. Perhaps that’s depending on how it’s done. So let’s look at how different teams, authors, and organizations define, use, and interpret a ‘persona’.


  • Adaptive Path: archetypes of your customers and users that can act as surrogates for those people in the design process. “In our experience, effective personas are drawn from ethnographic research rather than demographics, market segments, or gut feelings about your audience.”
  • Alan Coopera model of our users, represented by composite archetypes, based on behavioral data gathered from the many actual users encountered in ethnographic interviews. Personas are not real people, but they are based on the behaviors and motivations of real people we have observed and represent them throughout the design process. 
  • Leah Buley: a composite picture of a collection of users boiled down into one relatable, human profile.


  • Adaptive Path: Quality personas can have far-reaching effects, because organizations can disseminate them to the furthest reaches of their org charts. Well-conceived personas are an efficient way to communicate insights and spark empathy. 
  • Alan CooperPersonas provide us with a precise way of thinking and communicating about how users behave, how they think, what they wish to accomplish, and why.  Personas must have motivations; some are obvious, and many are subtle. Understanding why a user performs a certain task gives designers great power to improve or even eliminate those tasks yet still accomplish the same goals.Personas help designers: 
  1. Determine what a product should do and how it should behave. Persona goals and tasks provide the foundation for the design effort.
  2. Communicate with stakeholders, developers, and other designers. Personas provide a common language for discussing design decisions and also help keep the design centered on users at every step in the process.
  3. Measure the design’s effectiveness.
  4. Contribute to other product-related efforts such as marketing and sales plans.
  • Leah Buley: Personas are made as human as possible to further enhance the sense that this is a real person with a messy life and quirky was of coping with very recognizable human situations. 


Alan Cooper: Personas can also resolve three design issues that arise during product development:

  1. The Elastic User– Every person on a product team has his own conceptions of who the user is and what the user needs. When it comes time to make product decisions, this “user” becomes elastic, conveniently bending and stretching to fit the opinions and presuppositions of whoever’s talking. A lack of precision about the user can lead to a lack of clarity about how the product should behave.
  2. Self-referential Design- When designers or developers project their own goals , motivations, skills, and mental models onto a product’s design. Similarly, programmers apply self-referential design when they create implementation-model products. They understand perfectly how the data is structured and how software works and are comfortable with such products. few nonprogrammers would concur.
  3. Edge Cases- situations that might possibly happen, but usually won’t for the target personas. Personas provide a reality check for the design. We can ask, “Will Julia want to perform this operation very often? Will she ever?” With this in mind, we can prioritize functions with great clarity.