Method Overview

User Persona

User profiles based on needs and motivations rather than demographics. Guides your feature development towards the interests of your target group.​

Exploratory Method
Suggested Time

Research: 1-2 weeks
Analysis: 1 week
Design: 1-2 days​

UX Expertise Level



User persona template (digital/analogue)

User research results (Interviews & field observation notes, photos etc.)​


Decision makers, developers, research team, partners​

Must Have
This method can be applied to all types of innovations.


A User Persona is an idealized user profile that represents the desires and needs of a subgroup of your target audience. Personas are the result of an in-depth analysis of your potential future users of your service. They are picturing needs and goals, attitudes and behavior patterns rather than demographic identifiers like age, gender, or household size (which can be part of the Persona but are not used as differentiating factors to create them).


A User Persona can be built at any time of your development cycle. It is useful to start your design process based on a User Persona, so teams like to build it at the start of the development cycle, but a Persona can also help you focus on the essential when you iterate or adapt an existing service.


It is important to involve the designers, developers, field staff and decision makers. It might be a good idea to involve the project partners to integrate them in the vision building exercise and align on who you are designing for. ​

How much time

Depending on your resources, you can design a smaller process of a few weeks, or you can start an ongoing process of several months. This depends on your budget for research (interviews, focus groups, field observation) and data analysis. ​


User Personas help you focus on services that address actual needs of your target group. They support your team to​

  • Understand the user and empathize with them​
  • Prioritize features that are interesting based on data-based research results​
  • Crucial in avoiding long development processes with low user fit.

Why it’s useful

Understand the how and why of your target group​
Helps you understand channels for outreach/marketing​

Potential challenges

Not representative​​
One-time use/risk of outdating​

Is this for you?

Get step-by-step guidance, expert tips and best practice examples for building meaningful User Personas.

Lulseged, Desta - Alliance of Bioversity and CIAT

"I was not very sure if we can represent the situation of Ethiopian farmers by interviewing 5-7 people, but after the discussions with farmers and field workers, I realized that this can be done with such a small sample. It is really important to start working with HCD methods to understand what farmers need, what their priorities are, what their constraints are and what the surrounding limitations are."
Image by Charlotte Schumann
Why Researchers Find this Useful

Melissa, Bonilla - Consultant, Alliance of Bioversity and CIAT

"Having a User Persona is like keeping a photograph on your desk, that portrait that constantly reminds you of something. Well, this descriptive portrait helps you have a conversation with that person who isn't there but whom you should be constantly asking questions to."
Image by Melissa Bonilla

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