A sample persona
A persona can include a photo, some background information and brief descriptions of how the specified user type would use the product's features. This helps the made-up user seem more real and worth referring to during development. In fact, to make them more real, some teams post the written personas on the wall in a team area so they get to know the personas really well.
For a client project, we would develop a nicely-formatted PDF version of the persona. Here's an excerpt:
User: Fred Fish, Director of Food Services
Background Fred is Director of Food Services for Boise Controls, a mid-sized manufacturer of electronic devices used in home security systems. He uses a computer, but he's a chef by trade and not so computer-savvy. A computer is just another tool for getting his administrative tasks done.
Key goals As a manager, Fred doesn't get his hands (literally) dirty the way he used to. He stops in at all the Boise Controls sites and sticks his fingers into things once in awhile to stay in touch with cooks and cooking. ...
A usage scenario At the start of every quarter, he meets with the head chefs and plans out the next quarter’s menus. That’s one of his favorite things because each chef gets to demonstrate a new meal. They spend time in the kitchen exploring each new dish. ... [read the full PDF version of the persona]
About the persona
The persona describes the user's goals and some of the interaction. It's not too specific in describing the actual UI because that will be created later. The goal is to understand important tasks in the UI and the user's motivations.
There is enough information so everyone involved in development can understand what a specific, representative, user wants to do and what doing the task would be like. It's good to include photos and names to make "the user" more realistic and memorable.
It's great to have photos and post the write-ups wherever the group meets. The development team should get familiar with the users. Conversations should include, "If Fred were faced with this, he would..." rather than "The user would like this feature." Having someone specific to discuss makes it easier to make decisions.
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