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I would really appreciate if you could share some of the experiences in creating the most interesting persona, what make it more real, tips to give clarity and closer to the use group, etc. It would be great if you can share some of the best persona documents that you have used in the past (if it can be shared)

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Good personas can quickly convince management that you have done your homework and understand the users. So, yes, they do more than communicate users' needs to the developers.

In my experience, the easiest way to create a compelling persona is to think back on your field research and identify a couple of similar users who really exemplified a particular role or job responsibility. Then create a persona that is a blend of those two users, complete with their outstanding strengths (for a physician, complete familiarity with common ailments in their population), weaknesses (poor typing skills), and motivations (for a quarry manager, identify heavy equipment that is due for maintenance before it fails).

Yes, confidentiality limits the examples I can include. However, here are some personas I created for work I did for the Indian Health Service, a branch of the U.S. Government:

Alan Kraft, Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselor
Alan is originally from South Dakota. He is 30 years old, but has never finished high school, though he has his GED. He is half Lakota Sioux. As such, he is very dedicated to the interests of his fellow American Indians. He has worked with the tribal office for the Tohono O’odham tribe in Sells, AZ for five years. His typing skills, though, are weak, as he must hunt and peck when he types. He uses computers only occasionally to check his e-mail and write a half-page monthly report to his supervisor. He shares an office with two other Counselors.

Debby Clark, Receptionist and Secretary
Debby is 24 years old, married, with two children. She holds an associate degree from the local community college. Because she has a family, it is important that she work a standard 9 to 5 job. Her typing, computer, and organizational skills are excellent. If anything she knows Excel so well that she uses it for everything, including tasks that might better be done in a database. She has taken it upon herself to reorganize the file room and track the status of Treatment Plans within an Excel spreadsheet.

Kathy Childs, Social Worker
Kathy is a licensed social worker and has worked in the field for 15 years. She is comfortable with technology, and uses e-mail and MS Word regularly. She is a touch typist, but suffers from a touch of carpal tunnel syndrome, so she is careful not to type too much. She has been with PIMC for five years. She really enjoys working with children, and has an office filled with toys and games. These include a sand table, toy trucks, and dolls. She uses creative play to judge changes in her young clients.

Hope this helps.
Thank you John. This gives me a good prespective. Strengths, weakness and the motivation should provide the necessary insights. Thanks for the sample personas. This helps.
We too have found that personas are very helpful in showing that we know the audience and have thought through their approach. When we craft personas, we do it in three categories: who is this person (demographics, education, hobbies, etc.); what do they want to know from or about us; then what do they want to achieve online.
Here's a sample persona from our work:
Kevin Elliott, Congressional Staffer
Male, 28 years old, single, city dweller, Caucasian
Coffee addiction
Bachelor’s degree in International Policy; Master's in Public Policy
Active in politics and social media; news junkie
Hobby is social networking through happy hours
Member of congressional baseball team
Works 14+ hours a day during session
In a hurry and under pressure
What does he want to know?
What is our focus and what are the top issues around it?
What stance or testimony do we offer on these?
Who other than our orgnaization is working on this and what are they doing?
What's next on the horizon?
Who does we represent?
What do we do and how do we do it?
Where do we work and what have we done in his boss’s district?
What are we doing with all the federal money we get?
What does he want to do on our site?
Get done right away; find what he needs and get on with other duties.
Get in touch with a real person in the policy office right away.
Get background information on our programs; testimony; fact sheets; hot topics.
Data and research on the topic.
Identify us as friend or foe. Find out how we are funded and who our partners are.
Find bios on the leadership and board member’s (including local).
Find out who is speaking at national conference and local events.
Thanks Catherine. This is indeed useful. I have added few points from your list to the template that I have created. I'm also trying to explore the opportunities to make a short video of the persona with a photograph, his/her characters, places she/he shops online, with all the critical information, etc...I'm hoping this should be of value in presenting the info to the stakeholders in an interesting format. What are your thoughts?
There's some very interesting information on the latest use of Personas by Forrester. Here's a quote from my latest post on my blog, which is on this very subject:

Forrester recently released an evaluation of latest trends in using Personas in their How To Get The Most From Design Personas research. I attend the webinar in which they revealed the results of their research, and found that Forrester had some pretty interesting updates on what's been happening in the world of Personas, some of it new stuff I hadn't been aware of.

I've been using Personas for roughly 10 or so years, but it turns out I'm apparently doing Persona's all wrong - or at least missing critical elements, and not using Personas to their full extent in my enterprise (I'm so embarrassed). Don't laugh, according to Forrester you probably are too.

For more details on the Forrester 2008 evaluation of Personas you can read my Personas post on my blog.

PS - Love your photo! this has put in an entire new spin to what I have been doing so far. I'm curious now. I visited your blog today and registered myself on Forrester's website. I frequently visit the groundswell site, didn't realize the depth of information at their original site. I'll have to run to get some leadership approvals at my workplace to become a client to get my hand on the research papers. Thanks for the direction.

On a similar note, I'm also trying to explore the opportunities to make a short video of the persona with a photograph, his/her characters, places she/he shops online, with all the critical information, etc...I'm hoping this should be of value in presenting the info to the stakeholders in an interesting format. What are your thoughts?

PS: thanks. that was a self portrait....I was trying out some stunts with my new camera and landed up testing the lighting and stuff sitting in front of my laptop..which landed up to be an interesting one: )
Yes, Forrester has a HUGE amount of research on all kinds of Customer Experience topics. Quite valuable I think when trying to sell usability to execs or potential clients.

If your Persona represents a younger user, it would be almost mandatory to have a MySpace, Facebook and potentially some Twitters or Blog posts from your Persona. This is a great way to share the Persona in your organization, and is also a great way to reinforce the "personality" of the Persona.

Very cool, self portrait "accidents" or tests frequently provide the best results. It's funny how well we can do when we're NOT trying hard to do it!
I managed to find out from my workplace that we are already a client and I have access to Forrester and Gartner research papers. Wanted to thank you for setting some direction.

I would call this too as one of those "accidents"...which has opened a whole new door to the new market trends.

True, designing for Gen Y and Gen X is a whole new shift and Myspace and facebook is a great start. I came across a Forrester research paper at slideshare on "Big Brands & Facebook: Demographics, Case Studies & Best Practices"...little dated but useful information.
We use a "trading card" system at our company, it's a pretty cool approach. You print up a 2-sided "trading card" that explains a little about your user - picture, quote, interests, priorities. It's an easy way to flip through with our stakeholders at a face-to-face meeting and help them understand the user. In my opinion, a photo (could be fictional) is necessary for people to get the feel that it's a real person.

Currently we are in the process of redesigning our companies Internal Intranet Portal. The most challenging part of designing/re-designing your own organizations internal portal, I feel is to keep yourself focused as a usability practitioner and not get tempted to think, “I don’t need to test this with the users because I know how this works”. I am sure many of us must have been through this kind of a situation.

While creating persona's I try and include some details of the persona's family members or friends for better association and to make them more convincing. I tend to really think through a typical working day in his life to come up with details that might effect the system/application in consideration. Adding a couple of photos also helps tremendously; one can be a posed closeup and the other can be a candid one with her/his friends or family

Following are some examples of the persona's we created for the Internal Intranet Portal I was mentioning earlier. Hope these are of some help.


Meenal Javde
32 years old
Married and has a 4 year old son

She has done her Mass Communication with a Masters in Journalism from Pune University. Loves reading about Technology and Management. She is also an active social worker and regularly visits orphanages and old age homes.

She has 6 years of experience with a news daily of which she worked as co-editor for 2 years. As an Instructional Designer this is her first job with THE ORG. and she has been improving and doing a good job of it. She has been with THE ORG. for 1.5 years now.

Loves surfing the web and trying new technologies. She was the first one in the organization to buy the android phone.

• If there are any new books/magazines added in the library and their availability
• Is the organization planning any CSR activities in the coming months
• Know about the corporate medical insurance policy and the listed hospitals
• Know if the any team in the organization can help her apply for a PAN Card
• Know the trainings that have been conducted for the ID team

• Claim Medical Insurance
• She wants to apply for a PAN Card
• Wants to enroll herself for a workshop on Basic ID Principles
• Wants to request for issue a book from the THE ORG. Library
• Wants to print her last 3 months Salary Slip

Christopher Joseph

23 years old

Bachelor in Fine Arts (Commercial) from JJ School of Arts, Mumbai.
Loves to sketch human figures and photography.

Has joined THE ORG. last week as a graphic artist and illustrations being his forte.
This is his first job.

He lives with a couple of his friends on sharing basis 45mins drive away from workplace. He is very techno-savvy and enjoys reading and discussing about the latest trends.

• What work his peers are doing
• Is there some repository where he can find references to reuse or get inspired from
• Are there any tie-ups with local shops and restaurants for discount on purchases
• What Employee Benefit Schemes does THE ORG. provide
• Compensatory-off policy
• Know the Values and Mission of THE ORG.
• If he can access the Daily Attendance System through the THE ORG. Portal
• Know about the transport facility provided by THE ORG.

• See what is happening in other projects and the THE ORG. Repository of work
• Download list of Holidays
• Log in a Request for issuing headphones to him

Anirudha Joshi

28 years old

Anirudh is a MBA in Marketing from Delhi.

He has been with THE ORG. since last 6 years. He joined THE ORG. as a Sr. Project Manager and then moved to the sales team. He travels frequently to the US for client meetings and business conferences.

Likes playing football and enjoys watching F1. Trades online. He is a total news junky.

His wife Shweta, is carrying and is 5 months pregnant. She works with a renowned financial origination.

• Wants to be informed immediately if there are any changes in the organizations International travel policy
• Wants to have updated information on all contact persons for support while he is traveling
• What is the process to avail the cashless facility of the corporate insurance
• If there are any Fun Events planned in the coming weeks

• Wants to stay abreast of all the latest happenings and achievements of the organization
• Wants to enroll himself for the Fire-fighting workshop to be held next month
• Wants to stay informed about the latest trends in the industry to stay competitive with his organizations competitors
• Conference room booking
• Send International couriers
• Wants to take print of his form 16


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