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A Simple Persona Template

Published on 3rd May 2012 Last Updated on: 16 Aug 2022

Personas are a great way to capture our knowledge about the users and customers and their needs. But writing effective personas and providing enough but not too much information can be challenging. This blog post introduce a simple yet powerful template that helps you write great personas.

Personas in a Nutshell

A persona is a fictional character that represents a subset of the market we want to address. A persona typically has a name, a picture, relevant characteristics such as age or income group, behavioural traits, common tasks, and a goal that describes the problem the persona wants to see solved or the benefit the character wants to achieve. This information is traditionally based on direct observation, interviews, and other qualitative market research.

Personas should help you develop empathy for your users and customers. They encourage you to embrace a user-centred approach: Putting the users first, and building a product that that truly benefits them. This avoids the fallacy of a solution-centric approach: worrying more about the product and its features and technologies than the reason people would want to buy and use it in the first place.

Alan Cooper pioneered  personas in product development in the 1990ies. Today every product manager and product owner should be able to create and work with personas.

A Minimalist Persona Template

While personas are a powerful technique to capture knowledge about the users and customers of a product, it can be tricky to write effective personas: Some persona descriptions I have seen were too detailed and bloated; others lacked important information. That’s particularly true when agile and lean practices are applied, and good enough persona descriptions are appropriate, which are updated and refined as more knowledge about the users and customers becomes available.

Using personas for my own products, I have found that there are three pieces of information that are particularly valuable to creating effective personas: the persona’s picture and name, the persona’s details, and the persona’s goal. I therefore use the template below to write personas. Simply click in the picture to download the template as a PDF.

Roman's Persona Template

The first two sections in the template above describe who the persona is. The last one is particularly important, as it makes us ask why the persona would want to purchase or use our product.

An Example

Here is an example of how the template can be applied. It features one of the personas of a new book I recently started to work on:

Sample Persona Description

Notice that I have tried to make the persona description as relevant as possible. I have left out information that is not essential to understand who the character is and why the person would want to read the book. For instance, I decided not to include Peter’s marital status.

At the same time, I have tried to be as specific as I can right now about the persona, so I can validate my assumptions. As I find out more about the target readers of the book, I will undoubtedly iterate over Peter’s description, and update it.

While refining your persona, ensure that the character is believable and that its description helps people empathise with the users. You can do this, for instance, by adding pictures, likes and dislikes to the characteristics.

Visualising the Personas

I prefer to capture personas on paper, so I can easily visualise them, for instance, by putting them on the Product Canvas, as the picture below illustrates. An A4 paper sheet usually works well.

Persona on Product Canvas

Another advantage of using paper-based personas is the limited space available. This helps us focus on the relevant information rather than writing everything down we believe to know about the user.

Post a Comment or Ask a Question


  • José Esteva says:

    Thank you Roman, excellent as all your templates.

  • Javier says:

    Hello Roman – thank you for the great content and blog! Question: if one has the need for a few personas, would you ever consider creating unique value propositions for each persona (but still only creating one product)? …or would you always recommend targeting your primary persona with one value proposition (and leaving it at that)?

    • Roman Pichler Roman Pichler says:

      Thank you for your feedback and sharing your question. I recommend that a product has a value proposition, that it addresses a specific need, solves a problem, or create a tangible benefit for a group of people, and that the persona goals refine the product’s overall value proposition. In other words, you can look at the persona goals as subgoals of the overall user goal/need the product should address. The primary persona’s goal should guide your product decisions, particularly with regards to UX and product features.

      Does this help?

  • Josef Scherer says:

    Hi Roman, I wonder how the Persona Template and the Product Vision Board are related. It seems that the template deals with the left, problem part of the bard and that the goals of the (target) persona is not much different from the Needs part of the board. Do you agree?

    • Roman Pichler Roman Pichler says:

      Thank you for sharing your question Josef. I fully agree: There is an intentional overlap between the needs on the Product Vision Board and the persona goals. I usually start by trying to understand the primary benefit or main problem that the product should provide or address and carry out user research such as observing and interviewing people. This allows me to create (initial) persona descriptions whose goals are subgoals of the needs on the Product Vision Board.

  • Olga says:

    Hi, Roman, thanks a lot for this post and for all your blog. I was looking for information like you put here. And I have a questions:
    – how many personas should we describe and what it depends from?
    – all of our personas should be new users of the product so we use them to describe only presales taktic or we could use personas to describe its interaction when they already a customer? How it goes? I mean what about authorized type of user, a user who not yet registered and so on. We need to add this information in description, or it would be in another iteration?

    • Roman Pichler Roman Pichler says:

      Hi Olga,

      Thanks for your feedback and question. How many personas you should create depends on your target market: the bigger and more heterogeneous it is, the more personas you end up with. It is therefore a good idea to consider choosing a comparatively narrow segment, which makes it also easier to find a compelling value proposition. You may find my Market Segmentation Tips helpful to choose the right target group.

      Personas can describe new and existing users, customers, and affected individuals. Take an x-ray machine, for example. The user would typically be a radiologist (resulting in a user persona), the customer a hospital trust (resulting in a buyer persona describing someone from the trust’s procurement department), and people in need of an x-ray (resulting in one or more affected personas). Once you have created you cast of personas, ensure that you choose a primary one.

      Does this help?

  • Leighton Schnell says:

    Thanks for the article.
    What about thinking about and listing how the persona found the product, through which channel they purchased, and how they will interact with the brand?
    As for time to create a persona, I am sure there can be wide variance, but I find that they typically come in groups and can be created over the course of a few hours or less.

    • Roman Pichler Roman Pichler says:

      Hi Leighton, Thanks for your comment. I capture the marketing and sales channels on the Vision Board or Business Model Canvas. I usually create a Vision Board / Business Model Canvas first, carry out some initial research and validation, and then use the information gathered to create the provisional personas. Does this make sense?

  • Donato Mangialardo says:

    Personas are so powrful along a number of vectors, that, after having been reluing on this tecnique for many projects, I cannot do without. That said, researching, patternize and crystallize persona into vivid, lifelike characters can be a long process, that includes live interviews. Nobody can afford that upfront (personas like requirements may change). So, I reccomend using an iterative approach the persona discovery process, starting from assumptions, testing them outside the building, rebuilding them and retesting them. LIve interviews tell you quickly what to ask next. Then you can run surveys. Never base personas on internal discussions only…

  • Ana Pereira says:

    Great post. I’m launching an app that provides another 2 templates for personas, borrowed from the business model generation: Empathy Maps and Value Proposition Designer. I’d love to have feedback from you

  • Abhay Mathur says:

    Good stuff, and really useful. I would recommend to add one more column (and this comes from kind of products I work on) titled “Usage conditions”. This column would have details of situations & devices information. For example, a pre-sales manager uses my product while on move via a tablet computer whereas the sales coordinator is always in office accessing the product via desktop computer.

    • Roman Pichler Roman Pichler says:

      Hi Abhay, Thanks for your feedback and suggestion. I usually try to keep my personas free from solution-specifcs, particularly for new products and product updates aimed at new markets where the target users and their needs are often not thoroughly understood at the outset. To capture how target users are likely to interact with the product, I use user journey diagrams, as I’ve briefly describe here:

  • John says:

    @Roman it makes sense, i can see how it could be easy to spend too much time on a persona at the beginning.

    I will look forward to your future posts.

  • John says:

    @Roman, although the persona is a fictional character are you putting together a persona based on actual info gathered from real people beforehand? My reason for asking is although you mention not to confuse it with a real user or customer, the end result is targetted at a real user/customer.

    Im guessing that you are not meaning creating a persona purely from speculation.

    • Roman Pichler Roman Pichler says:

      When determining how much time and effort should be spend upfront to create a persona, I recommend investing the bare minimum. The quickly validate the assumptions, and adapt the persona — rather than spending many weeks or months with extensive upfront research. I am hoping to write more about this topic in a separate post in the near future.

  • John says:

    Hi Roman, i think so, as long as the personas have been created after discussions with actual potential users/customers, personally im still not sure about needing to give a face to a persona, although i can appreciate why some people do this.

    When i say situation i mean with regards to a specific situation that an individual will be in for example when needing to use a web app in a particular way for something very specific, i understand that it will be different when doing this for a book or something else.

    I think that sometimes when people are creating personas that they still might miss the point and are creating fluff when it might not always be a type of person using something, but a person in a type of situation.

    • Roman Pichler Roman Pichler says:

      Hi John, As a persona is meant to be a fictional character using a picture should help you to not confuse it with a real user or customer. I agree that personas should not be fluffy but specific and relevant. I sometimes capture the persona’s need to be addressed or the problem to be solved as a scenario to make it more concrete.

  • John says:

    Does it really matter what the persona looks like? Wouldn’t it be better to put more focus on the situation that the potential user will be in.

    • Roman Pichler Roman Pichler says:

      Hi John, I find that giving a persona a face makes the user believable and helps develop empathy. I capture information about the user’s situation in the context/characteristics or the needs section. Does this help?

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