Personas are short profiles of fictional but realistic individuals that we use to describe particular groups of users and stakeholders. They are useful for thinking about the design of interventions and / or programmes in a particular process from the user perspective – particularly (but not limited to) in situations when access to “real” users is difficult due to time, resources or geography. Each persona represents an archetype or user group. They are typically given a name, age, gender and short backstory describing their daily lives, aspirations and motivations.
This is often combined with information about particular skills, knowledge and behaviours that would be representative of that group and might differ from other user groups. This information is traditionally aggregated from pre-existing survey data or other available metrics. We commonly use personas to explore how a particular intervention will meet the needs of users, to develop scenarios and use cases for user testing and to identify learning and engagement strategies.