What is a Persona?

Ruben Buijs
August 10, 2023

A persona is a fictional representation of your target customer or user. It is a detailed description of an imagined individual who embodies the characteristics, goals, behaviors, and needs of your ideal audience. Creating personas helps product managers gain a deeper understanding of their target market and make more informed decisions throughout the product development process.


Let's say you are developing a project management software. One of your personas could be "Sarah the Startup Founder." Sarah is a tech-savvy entrepreneur who needs a project management tool to help her organize tasks, collaborate with her team, and track project progress. By creating this persona, you can better tailor your product to address Sarah's specific pain points and requirements.


Personas play a crucial role in Saas product management. Here's why they are important:

  1. User-Centric Approach: Personas keep the user at the center of your product development process. By understanding your target audience's needs, preferences, and behaviors, you can create a product that truly resonates with them.
  2. Decision Making: Personas help product managers make informed decisions. When faced with design choices, feature prioritization, or marketing strategies, referring to personas ensures that you align your decisions with the needs and goals of your target users.
  3. Effective Communication: Personas enable clear and effective communication within cross-functional teams. They provide a shared understanding of the target audience, facilitating collaboration between product managers, designers, developers, and marketers.

How to Use Personas

To create and use personas effectively, follow these steps:

  1. Research: Conduct thorough research to gather insights about your target market. Analyze user data, conduct surveys, interviews, and usability tests to understand your users' demographics, behaviors, motivations, and pain points.
  2. Identify Patterns: Look for commonalities among your target audience. Group users based on similarities in their goals, behaviors, and needs. These groups will form the basis of your personas.
  3. Create Personas: Give each persona a name, background, and detailed description. Include demographic information, job titles, responsibilities, and goals. Add personal details like hobbies, interests, and preferred communication channels. The more realistic and specific your personas are, the more valuable they become.
  4. Refer to Personas: Continuously refer to your personas during product development. Use them as a reference point when making design decisions, prioritizing features, or planning marketing campaigns. Ensure that your product aligns with the needs and expectations of your personas.

Useful Tips

Here are some useful tips to maximize the effectiveness of your personas:

  • Keep Personas Updated: Regularly review and update your personas as your product and target market evolve. Stay in touch with your users to ensure your personas accurately reflect their changing needs and behaviors.
  • Share Personas Across Teams: Make sure your personas are easily accessible to all team members involved in product development. Encourage everyone to refer to the personas and consider them when making decisions.
  • Validate Personas: Validate your personas through user testing and feedback. This will help you confirm whether your assumptions about your target audience are accurate and identify any gaps or misconceptions.
  • Consider Multiple Personas: Depending on the complexity of your product and the diversity of your target market, you may need multiple personas. Each persona should represent a distinct segment of your audience to capture their unique characteristics and needs.

Related Terms


What is a persona in product management?

A persona in product management is a fictional representation of a target user or customer segment.

Why are personas important in product management?

Personas are important in product management because they help teams understand and empathize with their users, guiding product development decisions.

How are personas created in product management?

Personas are created in product management through research, including user interviews, surveys, and data analysis, to identify common characteristics, needs, and goals of the target user base.

What information should be included in a persona?

A persona should include information such as demographics, behaviors, motivations, goals, pain points, and key characteristics of the target user.

How many personas should a product manager create?

The number of personas a product manager should create depends on the complexity of the product and the diversity of the target user base. Generally, it is recommended to focus on a few key personas that represent the primary user segments.

Can personas change over time?

Yes, personas can change over time as user behaviors, needs, and goals evolve. It is important for product managers to regularly update and validate personas to ensure they remain accurate and relevant.

How are personas used in product management?

Personas are used in product management to inform product strategy, guide feature prioritization, design user experiences, and align the team's efforts towards meeting user needs.

What is the difference between a persona and a user segment?

A persona is a fictional representation of an individual user, while a user segment is a group of users who share similar characteristics and needs. Personas provide a more detailed and personalized understanding of individual users within a user segment.

Are personas only used in software product management?

No, personas are not limited to software product management. They can be used in various industries and domains where understanding and catering to user needs is important, such as marketing, UX design, and customer service.

Can personas be based on assumptions rather than research?

While personas ideally should be based on research and real user data, in some cases, personas may be based on assumptions when there is limited access to user information. However, it is always better to validate and refine personas with actual user insights whenever possible.