Tweaking the Persona


This is another “half baked” post. Hope it’s useful!
Personas have been around for a long time in marketing. Alan Cooper introduced personas and scenarios to interaction design to solve the problem of keeping the target user top-of-mind when creating software.

They often look like this:

But after reading Indi Young’s great article on the problem with demographics in personas, and influenced by my own research into fiction construction (in particular, the GMC) AND Laura and Kate’s provisional persona work, I’ve built a simple template I use in my teaching.

A provisional persona is your first theory about who the target user is, based on early research.  Here is my rough template:

More details:

  • Who is this person? Name or code-name. (Names can carry stereotypes, as many studies have shown)
  • Role: Product manager, student, mom, cashier, cook, trip planner.
  • Goal and Motivation: I want this, because that.
  • Conflict & Attempts: Why I can’t do it now? What stands in my way? What am I trying now?
  • Setting: Where they try to solve problem. Environment matters!
  • Tools they can use to solve problem (I have an iphone, I can use a computer, a squirrel system)
  • I might consider adding engagement style. Though that seems like something you’d know later, as you came to understand the target user better.

It might look like this if filled out.

Feel free to try out, and let me know what you think!

1/17/2021 Cleaned it up a bit, so you can cut and paste it into your work.  

Attempts to Solve
Setting/ Environment


More on Role

Let’s talk about “role.” Everyone is fulfilling some kind of role.
As I type here, I’m fulfilling a teacher role. When I switch to my manuscript, I’m now playing an author role. When I walk the dog, I’m a dog owner, and when I cook dinner half the time I’m being a mom, sometimes being a dieter, sometimes I am a tired remote worker who just wants to heat things up (goal) because I’ve cooked too many days in a row and am sick of it (motivation)
We pull out “role” in order to not mix up things from a individual person’s quirks and activates that fit the role. It helps with scope. Hope that helps!


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