What is Persona Development?

Ruben Buijs
August 10, 2023

Persona development is a crucial process in Saas product management that involves creating fictional but realistic representations of your target users. These personas serve as archetypes that help product managers and development teams understand and empathize with their users' needs, goals, and behaviors. By developing personas, you can make informed decisions throughout the product development lifecycle and ensure that your product meets the specific requirements of your target audience.


Let's consider an example of persona development for a project management software:

Persona Name: Sarah the Startup Founder

  • Background: Sarah is a tech entrepreneur who runs a small startup company. She needs a project management tool to streamline her team's collaboration and improve productivity.
  • Goals: Sarah wants a user-friendly, cost-effective solution that includes features like task management, team communication, and progress tracking.
  • Pain Points: She has limited resources and needs a tool that can scale as her team grows. Sarah also values integrations with other tools to streamline workflows.

Persona Name: Mark the Freelancer

  • Background: Mark is a freelance web developer who works remotely for multiple clients. He needs a project management tool to track tasks, deadlines, and communicate with clients efficiently.
  • Goals: Mark is looking for a flexible and intuitive tool that allows him to manage multiple projects simultaneously, provides timesheet functionality, and integrates with popular project management methodologies.
  • Pain Points: As a freelancer, Mark needs an affordable solution that offers collaboration features for client communication and file sharing.


Persona development plays a significant role in Saas product management for several reasons:

  1. User-Centric Approach: Personas put users at the center of product development, enabling teams to design and build products that cater to their specific needs and preferences.
  2. Targeted Marketing: By understanding your users' demographics, motivations, and pain points, you can create targeted marketing campaigns that resonate with the right audience.
  3. Decision-Making: Personas provide valuable insights to make informed decisions throughout the product development lifecycle, such as prioritizing features, designing user interfaces, and optimizing user experiences.
  4. Empathy and Understanding: Personas help teams empathize with users by visualizing their goals, challenges, and behaviors. This understanding drives better collaboration and problem-solving.
  5. Validation and Testing: Personas serve as a benchmark for validating product ideas and conducting user testing. They enable you to measure how well your product aligns with user expectations.

How to Use Persona Development

  1. Research: Conduct user research through surveys, interviews, and analytics to gather insights about your target audience.
  2. Identify Patterns: Look for patterns in the data collected to identify common traits, goals, and pain points among your users.
  3. Create Personas: Based on the identified patterns, create fictional but realistic personas that represent different segments of your target audience.
  4. Define Persona Details: Give each persona a name, background, demographics, goals, pain points, and any other relevant information that helps bring them to life.
  5. Share and Communicate: Share the personas with your team and stakeholders to ensure everyone understands and empathizes with your target users.
  6. Utilize Personas: Refer to personas during product development to guide decision-making, prioritize features, design user experiences, and validate ideas through user testing.
  7. Iterate and Update: Continuously update and refine your personas as you gather more user data and insights. This ensures that your personas remain accurate and representative of your evolving user base.

Useful Tips

  • Keep Personas Realistic: While personas are fictional, they should be based on real data and insights to ensure they accurately represent your target audience.
  • Focus on Key Personas: Rather than creating an excessive number of personas, focus on a few key ones that represent the majority of your user base.
  • Include Motivations and Goals: Understanding what drives your users and their goals helps shape product features and experiences.
  • Validate Personas with Users: Regularly test and validate your personas with real users to ensure they align with their needs and behaviors.
  • Evolve with Your Users: As your user base evolves, update and refine your personas to reflect any changes in demographics, behaviors, or preferences.

Related Terms


What is persona development?

Persona development is a process of creating fictional representations of your target customers to better understand their needs, motivations, and behaviors.

Why is persona development important?

Persona development is important because it helps product managers and teams to empathize with their target customers, make informed decisions, and design products that meet their specific needs.

How do you create personas?

To create personas, you gather data through user research, interviews, and surveys. Then, you analyze the data to identify common characteristics, goals, and pain points among your target customers.

What information should personas include?

Personas should include demographic details, such as age, gender, and occupation, as well as psychographic information like goals, challenges, and behaviors. They should also have names and represent a specific segment of your target audience.

How many personas should I create?

The number of personas you create depends on the complexity of your target audience. Generally, it's recommended to focus on a few primary personas that cover the most important user segments.

How often should personas be updated?

Personas should be regularly updated as your product evolves and your target audience changes. It's recommended to review and refine personas at least once a year or whenever significant changes occur.

Who should be involved in persona development?

Persona development should involve product managers, designers, marketing professionals, and anyone else who needs to understand and cater to the needs of your target customers.

Can personas be used for other purposes besides product management?

Yes, personas can be used for other purposes like marketing, sales, and customer support. They provide valuable insights into your target audience, enabling better communication and understanding across different departments.

Are personas based on real customers or fictional characters?

Personas are fictional characters that represent your target customers. While they are based on real data and insights, they are generalized and anonymized to protect individual privacy.

What is the difference between buyer personas and user personas?

Buyer personas focus on the individuals who make purchasing decisions, while user personas focus on the end users of a product or service. Both types of personas are important for understanding and targeting different aspects of your target audience.