UIEtips: The Essence of a Successful Persona Project

Jared Spool

February 17th, 2010

Personas have been part of the UX toolbox for a while. Yet we’ve always wondered why teams don’t use them more often. A few years back, we set off to answer that question.

We discovered a variety of ways to create personas — each valuable in their own right. With our clients, we’ve been using a field-research-based technique. This method creates robust, data-based persona characters and scenarios.

Tamara Adlin has a fabulous workshop technique, one she calls Ad-Hoc Personas, which builds the characters out of information that the organization already knows.

Steve Mulder has some great techniques for using analytics and market research to gather and validate persona characteristics.

From our research, we’ve found all of these are useful methods and, when done well, deliver value.

When we analyzed the results, the initial findings show teams that approach personas the right way get great benefits from them. Unfortunately, many teams don’t realize what makes a persona project successful. They focus on the wrong aspects, dooming their project
to failure.

In this issue of UIEtips, I share the essence of successful persona projects — the key factors teams should understand. It turns out that once you know the right way to approach the project, it’s straightforward to make it successful.

Read the article, The Essence of a Successful Persona Project.

In the article, I talk about how impressed we are with Tamara Adlin’s Ad-Hoc Personas technique. We think this is an essential tool for getting everyone in the organization on the same page. Don’t miss the UIE Virtual Seminar on Thursday, February18, where Tamara walks us through the method. Read all about it.

Have you been successful at creating and using personas in your design work? Which factors do you think helped the most? Share your thoughts below.

3 Responses to “UIEtips: The Essence of a Successful Persona Project”

  1. David Travis Says:


    Will you be publishing the results of your research in more depth? The companies you visited, the kinds of people you interviewed, the technique you used to carry out the interviews, the method you used to identify the common elements across design teams? It would be great to see how you went about this important research.

  2. Jared Spool Says:

    Hi David,

    The research is still in progress. We’re working out exactly how we’ll be publicly discussing our findings, the analysis, and the data behind it all. As you can imagine, there’s a lot of proprietary stuff we had access to. It’s a design project in its own right. 🙂

    Thanks for encouraging our behavior — Jared

  3. Szenarien und Featurematrix als Evaluationsmethode im User Centered Design – uxzentrisch Says:

    […] Eine Persona veranschaulicht, fĂĽr wen wir den Online-Auftritt erschaffen und verbessern. Auf Basis der Personas können wir Entscheidungen ĂĽber das Feature-Set, die Informationsarchitektur oder die Ă„sthetik und verbale Ansprache treffen. Niels hat hier auf uxzentrisch eine schöne EinfĂĽhrung in die Persona-Methode gegeben, das Thema wird im Web weitreichend diskutiert. […]

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