What Would Karl Do? Or How to Get Real Value From Personas (Part 2)

Where we get into the details and nitty gritty on personas.

What Information Does a Persona Contain?

Screenshot of a variety of persona templates and canvases
Screenshot of a variety of persona templates and canvases
Persona templates

The problem with these templates is that they only give a superficial description of the role and give a one-size-fits-all format.

Just as a 1–2 page bullet-point resume can hardly fully describe you and your accomplishments to a prospective employer, an analogous 1–2 page persona CANNOT do justice to the roles of interest.

Provide detail, but not too much detail

1. Company background and situation

If the HR software was specifically targeting large enterprises (vs. mid-sized companies or startups) then the context of the large enterprise should be reflected in the persona.

2. Persona background (skills, education, previous jobs etc.)

Providing some form of work history or previous jobs helps round out the persona in the mind of the reader. This is some of the richness and detail that makes it easier to internalize the role.

3. Persona’s team and work environment

4. Persona’s job focus, scenarios, objectives, challenges etc.

Scenarios are critical

The persona is not just a description of the person/people, but it’s a description of the ROLE, and that MUST INCLUDE what they do in that role.

5. Tools, applications and other technology used

6. Background research data used to create the persona

How To Create Compelling Personas

Hypothesize, Research, Analyze, Synthesize, Evangelize
Hypothesize, Research, Analyze, Synthesize, Evangelize

1. Hypothesize

And now….here’s Karl

We realized very quickly that we didn’t really understand what an “administrator” actually did and decided to do some fundamental research with our customers.


2. Research

There is NO SUBSTITUTE for hearing customers or buyers speak FIRST HAND about their roles, and being able to ask exploratory or clarifying questions directly and in context.

Quantitative Exercises

Post Interview Discussion

Not my actual board. Source: https://twitter.com/JLMittelmeier/status/1094976783261278208

Researching Karl

3. Analyze

Analyzing Karl

4. Synthesize

Synthesizing Karl

The research was eye opening in many ways for us and we got to understand the realities of our target customers at a level of detail that we wouldn’t have had otherwise.

Application Administration Realities

5. Internalize

This is THE MOST critical part of this process. You can do all the other steps, but if people don’t internalize and use the persona, then all that effort is wasted.

Internalizing Karl

How Many Personas Should be Created?

A Few Final Words

A little feedback please

Product Consultant. Contact me for help in building great products, processes and people. http://www.transformationlabs.io

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