Product Design Lessons

User Testing  |   Lesson #104

Creating a Believable User: The Quick Guide to Personas

How to Create the Perfect Persona!

Why a Persona?

Personas are something that we often use in the design world, and it's a really important part of our process because we’re trying to design something that the customer sees value in. They can help us gain insight into the representative customers, but real ones are obviously better! We’ll often use multiple personas here at ZURB in order to find a wide range of people that could potentially use our apps and for what purpose. We’ll go over some tips and tricks to gain buy-in from our stakeholders as we present and defend our design decisions using your revamped killer personas!

What's the Makeup of a Good Persona?

A good persona will first explain the task that they’re trying to accomplish then fill in the blanks with the following:

  • Name
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Likes/Dislikes
  • Occupation/Education
  • Hobbies
  • Brief background story

Using this information, we’re trying to represent the user base with this information, so creating a believable persona is paramount to our product’s success. Names are important. If we use “John Doe” or “Jane Doe”, our stakeholders’ eyes are going to glaze over and the story that we’re trying to sell won’t be believable. If we were to use something like “Jet-setting Jake”, we feel something vibrant, realistic and something that’s reflective of who in our user base Jake represents and is trying to accomplish.

Let's Add a Picture!

Pictures are also important. It’s important to find good pictures. They don’t need to be of people that we know, in fact, go ahead and have fun with it! What kind of picture would we use for “Jet-setting Jake”? Probably someone with a smart suit, slicked back hair and a close shave. Again, it’s about creating the essence of an actual, believable user. By combining the name and picture, we’re shaping a persona to attach to our user flows and stories.

The soft touches can really add to our persona. When referring to “soft touches”, I mean the brief story about who they are as a person. Having two to three sentences that link together the basic data goes a long way. The persona helps the stakeholders gain insight into who our customers are without having to delve deeply into the basic data. It also sets a good mood before getting specific.

The Takeaways:

  • An interesting name that’s quirky and indicative of what type of customer the persona represents.
  • A great picture that plays well with the demographics and data that we’ve assigned to this persona.
  • A user story to give us some perspective on their motivations for using the product.

About the instructor


Nic oversees all aspects of Notable and helps make it awesome for ZURBians and Designers alike. He worked as a chef and cooked up a storm in the kitchen before becoming our Customer Advocate for Notable.