Personas are generally an internal tool created from user research (empathy maps, research, and anecdotal information directly from users.) Personas are created from the roles you have identified for your product and represent real-world information.
A Persona helps rally the team around the user, their role in the company, what they care about, and what their concerns are as they do their day-to-day job, and is representative of a group of users who perform the same job. They add real-world characteristics to a role to humanize the user for the team. Remember, it is easier to address >=80% of your user base with a persona rather than trying to address every single case. Listen to your Stakeholders, but be careful to understand what they are saying and objectively determine what is a solid common use case, and what is an edge/custom case.
What are the key elements of a robust persona?
Name: The easiest way to choose a name for your persona is to chose a name that starts with the role letter. For example if you are creating a persona for a Supervisor, you can name that person as 'Sunil', or 'Susan'. It's easier to remember as you develop out you user stories and Hills.
Gender, Age, Family: For simplicity's sake, we chose one gender and one ethnicity per persona. Ensure to have diverse ages, genders, and ethnicities.
Title and primary/secondary responsibilities
Image: Choose a picture that is; representative of your users, current, and engaging.
One representative quote that sums up this Persona.
Technological/Skill levels: Some users are very low on both scales, especially users that perform one task all day, for example, batch scanning. Other users such as an Administrator, can have a much higher Technological level, but a lower application skill level. Bear in mind that these 2 facets can be different for the same user.
How often and what other software/websites used in personal time: personal use of technology in order to understand what types of behavior the user has online and helps determine their technological palette and understanding.
What devices is the user familiar with, and how often used: This is to get an understanding of the familiarity of what the user uses to access technology; desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone, and which is used for both work and personal.
What other Personas does this Persona interact with: This is surfaced from another process that documents workflows.
Short bio: optional
How often will this user use this application in their job
What other job-related software does the user utilize and how often
What keeps them up at night: This is open-ended and can include items like; job performance,
What are their specific pressures and concerns: These usually relate directly to their job and current ecosystem and tools they use to do their job, as well as performance requirements/metrics.
What does the user say as they do their job: This is pulled directly from the Empathy Map.
What are their goals and values
What are their motivators
What are their demotivators
This seems like A LOT of information, and it can be, but here is a simple fictional sample Persona:
Paul Reed : 30, male, married
Education : Ivy-league educated
Paralegal : large law firm for 3 years
Primary : Collect case data for Lawyers
Secondary : Contact clients and witnesses and document witness statements
"I need to ensure all of the case data is complete, accurate, and up to date."
Tech skill: =========----------------------- 5/10
App skill: ===================----- 8/10
Internet: =====================-- 9/10
Personal devices in order: Smartphone, Tablet, Laptop
Work devices in order: Laptop, Smartphone (emails, notifications)
Product x : 80%
Product Y : 15%
Product z : 5%
Works with : Lawyers and Partners
I start at 6am at home checking my personal and work emails.
Sometimes I need to make calls before I leave the house.
My commute is about 1 hour via public transportation and i am checking my work emails constantly.
I immediately boot my laptop and get to work by 8am.
I am in our applications 80% of my usual day, 20% in meetings or talking to clients/witnesses.
I eat at my desk.
I work till about 7pm.
I check my work email on my phone the rest of the evening.
"My main concern is ensuring I have all the most current case data, quickly, to compile for my Lawyers for litigation."
"It is really stressful to try to grab data from other products we use, and making sure it is all correct."
"I get really stressed out when I have to wait for the application to load all of the case data when we are under time constraints."
"I feel very accomplished when I can pass off a case to a Lawyer and trust that everything is accurate at that moment in time."
"I drink a lot of coffee!"
From the anecdotal quotes, you will be able to see emerging patterns (in bold) that translate directly into use cases and product requirements.
Non sequitur: A quote from an old movie that still makes me giggle: "You gave a baby CHILI?!"