personas (2016)


NOTE: I cannot reveal the content of the personas as they are the intellectual property of the firm I created them for; instead, I can only speak to my process for creating them.

A Fortune 500 corporation I worked for did not have an enterprise-wide set of customer personas its product teams and designers could design for. 

my role.

My role was to propose the effort, engage stakeholders, lead the creation of the personas, and manage the designers who produced the final artifacts. I oversaw and co-authored this corporation's customer personas.


I identified the need to create an enterprise set of customer personas after consulting with an executive about the state of customer data in the enterprise: there was a lot of it, but the way it was packaged made it unapproachable and difficult to use for most product teams. 

Personas are typically a combination of customer data and fiction. In my experience, the more a persona set is supported by real data the more likely it is to be embraced by an organization as a whole. I started the process with a series of working sessions with stakeholders to review existing data and begin to organize data around customer segments using a spreadsheet:

A spreadsheet describing key attitudinal and demographic data for what would become 6 personas. Sorry it is obscured--it is protected by NDA.

We started with customer data that was readily available: demographics, average number of trips, income, etc. We then did research to add additional personal information to the personas: name, place of work, etc. From there, we co-wrote a high level, one sentence summary of each person. Next, a designer and writer crafted a rough draft of each persona which was reviewed and edited (which I reviewed and edited). A visual designer then took over and crafted the final look-and-feel, including creating an additional set of baseball card-sized personas.


This project was a great example of cross-divisional partnership. As is typical with most larger projects I undertake, I sought to not only produce a meaningful artifact, but to use its creation as a means to get teams to work more closely together. 

product and feedback.

The personas were produced as a document as well as baseball card-sized summaries. (Regrettably, due to NDA I cannot share the final outputs in high resolution):

A sample persona; sorry it is obscured--it is protected by NDA.

Feedback from employees about the personas was universally positive as well. Here are some employee survey responses to questions as to the value of personas:

"I would recommend using personas on projects going forward"
        100% of respondents agreed with this statement
"The personas are helping me focus on customer needs on my project"
        75% of respondents agreed with this statement
"Personas are a useful tool when creating a new service or experience"
        100% of respondents agreed with this statement
"Especially during design it has been very valuable and has helped the team focus on the target customer." -- Designer
"We need to design for a wide range of users, so having a breadth of personas covering our customer base is extremely important." -- Designer

project goals.

create a set of personas, informed by real data, to help teams focus on the right users
build customer-centricity in the organization
improve the design process by improving upfront understanding of user needs.