What is a persona?

A persona is a functional representation of a user/user group created from user research. Personas are used to help guide decisions about products, features, navigation, interactions, and visual design. The creation of personas allows the team to stay focused on what is important by recognizing the needs of the user.

Assumption Based Personas: These are a great way to start. These allow you to begin the process of understanding what you may think the user is wanting, frustrated with, and how what is being built will be used or interacted with.

User Based Personas: These are created from interviewing a series of real people and capturing descriptions about behavior patterns goals, skills, attitudes, and environments that helps identify these users. This is the most accurate type of persona and brings the most value.

How to create a persona:

First, identify and interview your target users with relevant questions regarding your project. Then, analyze the results from your interviews and start mapping similarities.

Unum’s Persona Generator can help you quickly and easily create professional personas.

General persona questions you ask are:

  1. Tell me about your department and your role in it.
  2. Describe a typical work day.
  3. What activities take up most of your time?
  4. do you have any impediments that hamper you from getting the work you value completed?
  5. What would you say your goal is?
  6. What are websites and apps you use for your job, externally and internally?
  7. What devices do you use for work?
  8. What would you change about your job/the tools you use?
  9. What are the top 3 challenging or frustrating aspects of your job?
  10. What are your expectations around new projects?
  11. What are your metrics of success?


Creation of persona documents is fairly quick. Gathering a solid understanding of your end user is what takes time. Many other research methods can be utilized to gather information that ultimately ends up in a persona.


The usefulness of personas is directly tied to the methods used to create them. If based primarily on assumptions, they can be lacking compared to those created based on results pulled directly from interactions with users. When done correctly, personas are powerful tools that are critical to content strategy and design.


Nearly anyone with a solid understanding of users’ activities, thoughts, and expectations can make a persona. Unum’s Persona Generator makes persona creation even easier.