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Personas 101

Personas are a tool organizations can use to learn more about their users. They are used to learn as much as you can about end users in order to better the product or service you provide. If you are able to think as a user during the design and development of a product or service, this will help greatly in creating something that satiates the users’ needs.

Personas are descriptions that give you an understanding of your users and how they use your product or service. Personas can take on a variety of forms depending on your organization’s needs. But, there are a few basic questions and ideas that every persona should include to ensure that the tool is useful. Below, you will find multiple examples of personas, varying from lean to more complex. By looking at these examples, you will see the various forms personas can take. Every persona answers the questions listed below:

  • Who is your audience?
  • What is their background?
  • What experiences have they had?
  • What are they looking to accomplish?
  • What are some challenges they face?
  • What are some potential ways to address those challenges?

In the creation of your personas, be sure to cover these questions in order to get a complete understanding of your users.

Lean Persona

Provided by Jonathan Rubin, User Experience Program Manager at GSA, for Globalchange.gov

Complex Persona

Provided by Kathryn Messner, Usability.gov Program Manager at HHS

If you still have some lingering questions about personas, be sure to check out some examples and templates of personas being used in the federal government.

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