Personas bring evidence to life and helps to connect teams to users

A descriptive persona brings users to life by defining their thinking styles and behaviours.

Demographics (names, gender, age, ethnicity and location) are not included in this style of persona. This prevents you making assumptions, and drawing on subconscious stereotypes.

When to use this tool

You should use a descriptive persona after carrying out robust user research on a specific task. It can help you create and test possible solutions related to a specific user.

It can be particularly helpful when people in the design team have competing interests or strong ideas.

A persona’s purpose is to:

  • help teams understand what is important to a defined group of users
  • get people to step outside their individual perspective and focus on the diversity of people who are using a service, or are part of delivering a service
  • help teams build empathy for specific users, by understanding their underlying behaviours and thinking styles
  • prompt discussion with teams around things that are often unnoticed, or uncomfortable, to address

Creating a persona

This is a high-level guide for people experienced in researching and creating personas.

  1. Carry out robust research on a defined user group with the project team.
  2. Plan and facilitate a co-sensemaking workshop with the project team to analyse the data.
  3. At the start of the co-sensemaking session define the purpose, scope and context of the Descriptive Persona.
  4. During this session define what is important to the user and how it affects their behaviour. What are their reasons, reactions and guiding principles?
  5. Once the thinking styles and behaviours have been identified consolidate it into a short description, maximum 300 words.
  6. If possible, ask a content designer to help make sense of the language and style of the description.

Hints and tips

  • write the description in first person
  • if relevant, define the effect of a life event and not an age