Less decoration — more actionable data. A bonus GIF included.

Sometimes I think we, designers, have forgotten what personas are and what this method was initially created for. I often hear from colleagues that personas are out-of-date, and such a trending framework as jobs-to-be-done is much better. However, there are no bad or good instruments. When used right, any tool can be fruitful.

Such a beautiful design deliverable, isn’t it? — Not really.

A persona is a vivid, concentrated image of people: their motives, behaviors, and goals. If you decorate it with shadows, gradients, and font styles, you risk adding information that only looks important. Remove the fanciness — and you’ll be able to mercilessly edit all the bullshit out.

“Businessmen” stock photos, “quotes” from inspirational communities on Facebook, funny persona names, marketing and SEO buzzwords (income, marital status, interests, brands) — all these pieces of information usually don’t help to design a good service or product. Personas aren’t marketing segments; they are behavior-based models.

Too much demography makes designers think stereotypically and attribute wrong traits to people (so-called representativeness heuristic bias). As a result, you make assumptions about people’s emotions and thoughts instead of real-life behaviors, which you can observe — not just guess.

A frequently overlooked element is a story, which describes the way of thinking and background. If there is no story, a persona lacks tangibility and realism. People aren’t robots and often behave under the influence of unrelated circumstances. A story describes aspects that influence the usage of a product or service, which you are designing.

How many tasks and needs have you written? Three? Four? Try finding more, and don’t forget about the fears and wants people might have mentioned during the interviews. This will help to understand not only business concerns but also personal perspectives.

If you are designing, for example, a software product, try listing the solutions a persona already uses and note how pleasant that experience was. This section gives insights into people’s habits, things that don’t need fixing at all, and niches for something new.

Finally, the fun part! When helpful content is ready, it’s time to put emphases into the document and make it better understandable for the team. For instance, highlight the research findings, which people repeated frequently or described in more detail compared to other topics.

Look at the picture below and ask yourself: which one helps to make a design decision or to come up with a design hypothesis?

For me, the second one definitely works better. For example, the size of Adam’s team and their current software environment helps to choose familiar interaction patterns. The “Fears” and “Wants” sections are clues to the value proposition of a solution.

As promised at the beginning, here is everything in a single GIF animation.


Amazon managers told students in a recent meeting that personas were not used, let alone considered at the mammoth online retailer. That sentiment seems to be growing with increasing focus on individual profiles along with numbers of critics now bashing personas (a marketing method for segmenting audiences.)

Amazon executives told the undergraduates, according to one in the room, that personas are useless, at least to to Amazon business model, since the company “targets everyone.”

Yet there’s no question in my mind that Amazon targets specific markets — no matter what they say. The $233 billion company operates three global market segments, offering services for an array of businesses, reselling consumer merchandise, and manufacturing and selling its own products online, in stores, and at pick-up locations. To make my point clear, it only takes going onto their main site, and diving into any one of their online businesses to see how services are positioned.

Regardless, it’s mystifying why personas are getting a bad rap.

Maybe it’s because twenty years after Alan Cooper turned us on to personas in his best-seller The Inmates are Running the Asylum, that sales and marketing execs are looking — and haven’t found — the next sexy tool. Their underlying message may be something like: it’s time to move on with something new. But I know of no replacement.

Personas represent one or more characteristics shared in common with a target audience, such as demographics, attitudes, behaviors, income, geography and more. Businesses use them for identifying needs of ideal customers, and building strategies to satisfy them, which inevitably leads to revenue.

But critics are not convinced, even though I would argue many of their arguments make little sense, and at worst, are ill-informed.

• Personas are passe. “Whereas personas were once a good starting point to identify “buckets” of customers, the limitations of persona-based marketing have become apparent . . . because a user journey is (no longer) a predictable linear path,” UX researcher Ernan Roman said.

• Personas are too complicated. “Many organizations just don’t have a need for personas to drive design decisions because most of their design needs just aren’t that complex,” Kristina Bjoran wrote.

• Personas are too simplistic. “Traditional personas tell you very little because they are based on simplistic models and transactions,” Bridget Russo, said, CMO of luxury brand Shinola. “They cannot help you understand why customers bought, what motivated them to buy, etc. Cookie-cutter persona-based marketing will not work for today’s savvy buyers.”

• Personas can’t achieve humanization. “We recently analyzed the personas we had been using and found that the customer had changed dramatically,” Darin Smith said, senior director of PowerUp Rewards at GameStop.

Obviously, it’s time to refresh — to relook the definition and see if it warrants a case for resurrecting.

Granted, most personas don’t meet Cooper’s original definition. But that’s for good reason, it was a narrow solution to a narrowly-defined software development problem. Personas came into popular use after promotion by the advertising company Ogilvy who touted the newest, greatest marketing tool yer.

As personas entered mainstream, the tool migrated into other fields, including non-aesthetic design practices such as service design, product design, and graphic design, UX design, design thinking and on and on. Across the fields, personas are not just used to define target audiences, but also for capturing user journeys, developing loyalists, and testing programs and services.

Developing Personas Using Data

What critics seem to miss, is data to develop a persona already resides on their internal enterprise systems. To improve on what’s available in-house, organizations should verify their personas through primary research — surveys and focus groups. To keep them current, merely requires refreshing the data from time-to-time. If existing criteria is no longer valid, well, it’s time for an update. Also, new and different personas can be created at any time. In other words, there’s no fixed type number of personas, nor types of personas. Moreover, they can also be thought of as a concept, if that helps.

While a designer may not know what to do with a persona, somewhere along the line someone’s going to ask what the design is based on, what solution does it help solve? A persona is a valid answer.

Personas have never been used to inform executives about individual consumers. But have always been of value for their shorthand reference to an intended target audience — that’s the part Cooper would recognize.

Nor are personas profiles. However, I know of no other tool that can help determine what wording to use and messages to convey to a target audience, and, when and how to deliver those messages.

Without a persona, I can think of few other ways to strategize ways to grow and sustain loyalists.

My advice to the students meeting with Amazon: Don’t give in. Without a persona, there are no other tools I’m aware of, for uncovering and satisfying ideal target market needs, for testing solutions, and for growing loyalists; and by all means, call it anything you want, just don’t tell Amazon it’s a persona.


If you are designing a B2B product, you are basically designing a product for the ‘people’. Learning how to create user personas in UX helps you get to know these people better so you can satisfy their needs better.

Why create personas?

User personas in UX design are effective guides to determine the path to follow while developing a B2B product. When you know what each step targets are located, you will never get lost during the process. Also, you will draw the best route to go, as you know the conditions and expectations in your destination, which is your user. This is a perfect way to boost productivity.

Creating personas is not very easy, though. For maximum clarity, you need to consider all the detailed features of your user personas in UX. The more precise your focus is, the higher the conversion rates you get from your efforts will be.

how to and why create user persona

3 Steps for creating User Personas in UX

User personas represent your target audience. During the persona defining process in UX, you need to focus on the real people rather than your dream audience.

If you want to see what an example of user persona in UX design looks like, check out our article User Persona Examples.

Here are 3 crucial steps that answer the question “how to create user personas”.

1- Write down the features to be determined

There are various user persona types; however, there are basic features to consider while defining your persona. You may see different lists of features, but they usually serve the same purposes. So here is our list of user persona features:

  • Occupation,
  • Demographics,
  • Their personal story,
  • The challenges in their stories,
  • What they require to overcome these challenges,
  • A clear and a descriptive quote by them.
how to create user persona research

2- Never give up detailing your research

Creating a user persona requires detailed research to end up with a clear persona. As you have a list of features to determine, you know what you need to conduct your research on. There is no single source of information to learn about your target audience, you need to do interviews, read forums and reviews, consider your own experience, etc.

You need to dig as deep as you can. There is no ideal number of real person references to create the best user persona. Add all the information you obtain during the research under the appropriate features on your list. You will know when it is time to end your research because your persona will start feeling like a real person.

3- Organize the information you obtained

Your detailed research will provide you with a bunch of information. Now, it is time to organize and categorize what you have. Realize which qualities are more common than the others. Remember that we are trying to know the ‘typical’ user, so focus on common points.

For example;

  • If there are 15 digital marketers but only one teacher, ignore the teacher.
  • If the majority is older than 30 years, ignore the audience under 30.
  • If the majority cares about the user-friendly design over price, consider premium versions.
how to create user persona analyze

You don’t need to address everyone, minimize your target audience for maximum efficiency. Take your time to find out all the intersecting qualities for B2B user personas just so you can offer the best solutions to make a difference with your B2B product design.

In particular, the challenges and needs are the key points to design a perfect product because the bottleneck is where your audience needs your help.