How to use personas

Personas are data-driven representations of our target users. These personas are built out of 500+ customer interviews, surveys and contextual inquiries. Like real life people, they are evolving and will change in minor ways as we get more data. Use these personas as a shortcut to solid customer data.

The personas come to you in skeleton form. Their bones are data-strong, it’s your job to add the focused data that make them relevant to what you’re working on. Conduct customer interviews, contextual inquiries and user testing. Each project should have a main persona and secondary persona. You’ll see improvements in quality and meeting your user’s needs.

These personas have multiple roles and occupations. We have purposely left this as an option for you to decide on. Just like a real human, as personas move through multiple jobs, they still fundamentally act in the same way. Characteristics and motivations are slow-changing things. Make decisions on the roles and companies that the personas work in but know when they cross over to assumptions.

A caveat of using personas: You don’t want assumptions to blend in with facts. There’s a real danger in adding assumptions to these personas and treating them with the same emphasis as the data, especially as time passes. Validate these assumptions with customer interviews, user testing and contextual inquiries before they blend into fact. Always question and always validate.

Atlassian design personas

Alana

Alana

“I'm about to make the call on this, show me everything I need to know. The more I know end-to-end the better my decisions are.”

Alana is great at motivating a team along when times get tough. She constantly drives for outcomes and feels that details get in the way when she's busy, (which, if you've had a meeting with her, you'd realise is almost always). She abhors admin work or things that get in her way. In her workplace, she prefers direct communication from her colleagues and managers. Alana is actively involved in professional circles outside of work and likes to keep up with the news by reading management and productivity books.

Goal

To get her team to be work more efficiently, less admin waste.

Motivations

  • Recognition – wants superiors to see her as doing a great job
  • Completion – wants to see all issues resolved and all boxes ticked. Incompleteness makes her anxious
  • Efficiency – wants to make sure she and her team aren't spending too much time and energy on the wrong things
William

William

“If you show me the data I'll figure out this challenging problem to everyone's benefit.”

William is detail-oriented, analytical, and very determined. He takes pride in being able to solve really difficult technical problems. He has loads of patience, and he'll do what it takes until it's solved. He likes to be seen as the expert, and he loves learning and honing new skills to show that expertise. If there's one thing he doesn't have patience for, it's needless admin. He has a lot of influence on what software the company uses, not only because of his technical knowledge, but that he'll probably be the one to set it up and maintain it. William struggles with having to lead a technical team and to keep on being the technical craftsman. He enjoys boardgames with his mates, brewing his own beer, and collecting retro game consoles.

Goal

To get best-practice tools in place for the team to work more efficiently, with minimal tech support needed.

Motivations

  • Reputation – wants to be seen as knowing all there is to know
  • Solution – wants the reward of knowing he's solved it, no matter what it takes
Harvey

Harvey

“Is this going to be good for us in the long run? I hope we've made the right choice.”

Harvey is factual, reserved, meticulous, thorough, and bit risk-averse. He needs to know all the facts before making a decision, and needs to balance lots of competing priorities. He's very adept with spreadsheets, and can write a mean macro or two, but he doesn't identify as a technical person. He craves predictability and control, and sometimes he's a bit uncomfortable when it comes to spontaneously collaborating with workmates. He tends to be the one to tick the box on purchases, but as long as teams are efficient, he doesn’t care what they use. To relax, Harvey watches English Premier League, and his favourite thing is his Kindle Fire.

Goal

To keep the business sustainable, by optimising team size, operations, profit, business growth and minimise expenses.

Motivations

  • Predictability – wants to know that what people say (and what he expects) will happen
  • Control – unaccounted-for change makes him anxious
  • Tangible – drives for facts and logic
Emma

Emma

“I get a kick out of getting my team to try new things! Until the next best thing comes along.”

Emma is drawn to test out new things and prides herself on being an early adopter. Her news sources are her professional and social circles. Emma doesn't mind a bit of risk and change, as long as it's an improvement on what she currently uses. She inspires her team mates with great ideas and good social skills. Emma is always tinkering with the way she works to see if she can make it better. She's determined to hit each outcome in her job. In her downtime, Emma soaks up information from crowd sourced material and contributes to a professional blog.

Goal

To convince the purchaser and decision-maker to get a product she likes for work, in a way that makes her look good. To be seen as the go-to for new things, ideas.

Motivations

  • Belonging – wants to be part of the crowd
  • Reputation – wants to earn that place by being seen to be in the know about the latest and greatest, and who knows who
  • Serendipity – seeks out new things and experiences, new people
José

José

“What's going on and where can I help? What needs doing?”

José is diligent, accessible, collaborative, trusting, a good listener and a good friend. José gains great satisfaction from helping his team and/or customers. He doesn't mind putting in the hours to solve problems for his team, and he tends to put people in touch with each other if he thinks they'll both benefit. He tends to work to a solution where everyone will be happy, even if he doesn't get what he wants, and he's comfortable with following an endorsed process. He can be a bit hesitant, and if he thinks something can be done better, he'd rather check with everyone first before diving in himself to change it. Not many people know this, but José plays guitar in a cover band, and loves Moroccan food.

Goal

To make sure everyone's getting along, and getting what they need. To help others' reach solutions and agreement, even if it means compromises, and even if he doesn't get what he wants.

Motivations

  • Appreciation – his own self-esteem is propped up by others appreciating him
  • Understanding and acceptance – he's strongly to empathise with and understand others, and appreciates it when people want to understand him
Mia

Mia

“I just want to get it done. And not look stupid”

Definitely a proponent of 'just enough' when it comes to work. It's not that she does a bad job (she's good at what she does), she just doesn't see the need to go the extra mile. Mia uses existing pages, templates and frameworks and has no intention of being a power user.

Goal

To not stuff up. To tick the boxes of what she's required to do, so that she can focus attention elsewhere.

Motivations

  • Salary and benefits – Mia works for the extrinsic benefits she gets, to fund her family and lifestyle
  • Easy wins – Mia will tend to look for the easier way, or the path that most people tread