The concept of a Persona

A persona is a model of a fictional character that represents a user or customer. 

Personas are based on research about the target users or consumers, they are usually given a name, a picture, and a description of their characteristics, behaviours, goals, and motivations. The aim of creating a persona is to create a more concrete, specific image of the user, which can help the AgileData team make more informed design and delivery decisions.

A persona is different from both an archetype and an actual person. The unique aspect of a persona is that it only focuses on specific attitudes and context related to the area of work, rather than the whole person.

The concept of a persona has its roots in psychology, where it was originally used to refer to a person’s social role or “mask” that they present to the world. In the field of user-centred design, the term “persona” was popularised by Alan Cooper in his book “The Inmates are Running the Asylum,” which was published in 1998. Cooper argued that designers and developers needed to focus more on the needs and goals of their users, and he introduced the concept of personas as a way to help design teams create more user-centred products. Today, personas are widely used in many different domains as a way to help designers and other professionals better understand and empathise with their target users.

There are four commonly used patterns for defining personas:

  • Alan Cooper’s goal-directed pattern: This pattern focuses on the goals and tasks of the persona and how they can be achieved through the design of the product or service.
  • Jonathan Grudin, John Pruitt, and Tamara Adlin’s role-based pattern: This pattern focuses on the role the persona plays in the context of the product or service, and how the design can support and enhance that role.
  • Engaging pattern: This pattern emphasises how the story of the persona can engage the reader and how the design can support that engagement.
  • Fiction-based pattern: This pattern does not rely on data, but creates personas based on intuition and assumptions, with names such as ad-hoc personas, assumption personas, and extreme characters.

Product Personas

The Product Domain makes extensive use of the persona pattern to ensure the product being built is targeted at a specific set of users.  By better understanding the set of users they are trying to serve then they can better understand the product features those users gain value from and therefore the set of features they will pay for.

When creating product personas, they include a variety of attributes that accurately reflect the needs and characteristics of the target customer.

Some common attributes that are used to create product personas include:


  • Demographics: Information such as age, gender, income, education, and occupation can give insight into the target customer’s lifestyle and purchasing habits.
  • Goals and pain points: Understanding the customer’s goals, challenges, and problems can help identify opportunities for the product to solve a problem or improve their life.
  • Usage scenarios: Knowing where, when, and how a customer will use a product can inform design decisions and ensure that the product is functional and convenient to use.
  • Attitudes and values: Understanding the customer’s attitudes, values, and brand preferences can inform messaging and marketing efforts and help create a strong emotional connection with the customer.
  • Buying behaviour: Knowing how and why the customer makes purchase decisions can help businesses optimise the sales process and close deals more effectively.

By taking into account the different attributes of a product persona, product teams can create a more detailed and accurate picture of their target customer and develop products and marketing strategies that are tailored to their needs.

We can leverage this pattern to ensure we understand who we are developing an Information Product or a data platform feature for.