Personas are portraits of fictional but realistic individuals that are used as a common reference point to describe particular groups in your intended audience. Personas are created by drawing together the characteristics of similar people – their behaviours, motivations and the like – into one ‘archetype’ through which the group can be understood. By creating a fictional character to embody these characteristics, you don’t lose the little details that make someone the person they are. In this way, Personas help ensure that your work stays focused on people, rather than an abstract description of the group they are said to represent.
Developing successful Personas is all about knowing what to put in, and what to leave out. They’re often developed from a range of different sources, each of which might contain huge amounts of detail. The trick is to recognise the common characteristics that could form the basis of a Persona, and what selection of personal details to include in order to bring this ‘to life’. Doing this right can be hugely beneficial as it lets you brainstorm ideas and test potential solutions from their perspective. Often its handy to create a number of Personas so that you can focus on the key characteristics of each subgroup of your intended audience.