are developed and derived from user research – they are basically distilled users, if you will. From field studies and observations, you learn a lot about users – who they are, how they behave, their goals, the circumstances under which they try to achieve their goals, their frustrations,  etc. Once you have a rich mesh of these user profiles,  you can create some composite of the relevant data. This way, all those pieces of information come alive in a character that you can imagine and relate to during the design and testing process.

You can use the personas to

  • validate requirements
  • identify usability requirements
  • use for scenarios, stories, flow walk-throughs
  • unify debates and herd cats
  • steer conversations away from features and toward a customer-centric culture
  • improve user advocacy

Kathleen Hinger

Female, 43, married with 3 children


Drawing of a woman with long hairI have a full-time job as a data analyst, so working with a course management system should be fast and easy.”



Description: Kathleen is a technically minded data analyst, who supplements her wage as an adjunct instructor at a local college.  She is very comfortable with computers and software, such as Tableau, Minitab, Excel, etc. She loves using technology and identifies herself as an early adopter.

Besides her full-time job, she has three  school- aged kids, who want to spend time with their mother. Kathleen figured teaching a course twice a week in the evening would not take too much time away from her family, as she is a subject matter expert, and used to work as a teacher.

Goals: Her primary goal is to simplify communication with the students. As she has very limited face-to-face time with the students,  she wants to make sure that the course website has all the information they need, in an easy to use manner.

Her secondary goal is to make all her course material available to the students online as she has no time to do a lot of photocopying before her class

Expectations. As the college employs a lot of part-time instructors, and it offers no onboarding or training for newcomers, she expects that the college uses a reliable and easy-to-use course management system. She expects no difficulty in setting up and running her course online


Benjamin Ferrando

Male, 66, single

“Better to be safe than stickfigure for the persona of Josh Hinger. Bald on top, smiling face sorry: Tech stuff often fails and so I am better off with photocopied handouts for my students, and paper-and-pen gradebook for myself.”


Description: Benjamin has been teaching at this and other colleges for decades and is now ready to retire. He is frustrated to see that fewer and fewer students are committed to giving his classes their full attention. His solution is to keep the material manageable and create hand-outs of bite-sized summaries of the material that he photocopies for everyone.

Benjamin is not keen on technology and the digital world. He subscribes to several printed magazines and newspapers, and sometimes clips interesting articles for his students. The only e-mail account he has is from the college he teaches at.He is concerned about the security of the digital system, which he lists as a reason to use the course management system to a lesser degree.

Goals: His goal is to get students excited about his subject, while also satisfying the “overlords” of the college. As using a learning management system is required, he posts the minimum amount of material. He is willing to do new things online as long as someone can assure him that it cannot go wrong, and is easy to set up.

Expectation: He expects the system to be cumbersome, and so he devotes plenty of time to setting up tasks online. He also has his support system such as more technologically skilled colleagues, and the phone helpline the college offers.



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