Personas: What They Are and How to Utilize Them

Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

When creating a plan for a new website build, it is challenging to know where to begin. There are so many factors that go into designing even one page of a site that web developers can feel lost without a specific direction to take. A great way to correct this problem and make your website a consumer-focused place is to develop personas. This allows the web developers to have an in-depth description of the different users to understand how these groups will react to different elements of the site.

This post will teach you what a persona is, how to create them, and how to use them when building your own websites in the future!

What is a Persona?

Photo by Timon Studler on Unsplash

A persona is a fictional character that is created based on the main demographic groups of a website. The simplest definition of a web persona is: “a summary of the characteristics, needs, motivations, and environment of a key type of website user”. They should answer these three questions about user groups:

  • Who is this person?
  • What are their goals?
  • What are their pain points?

In a world full of mass competition, it is important to make sure the website you build, or business you create stands out from the rest. By utilizing personas, you are enabling your company to create the best user experience which leads to positive brand association. Each persona includes a chart with a “score” describing their knowledge in different areas of the industry: tech savvy, willingness to change and general knowledge of the product or service at hand.

Persona Characteristics


  • Age
  • Gender
  • Occupation
  • Locations
  • Employment


  • Personality
  • Interests
  • Lifestyle
  • Attitudes
  • Behavior Patterns
  • Mentality
  • Values

After conducting research and compiling all the data you should have all these characteristics included. You then add a photo of what this person may look like. This allows you to become connected with these personas and really understand the people you are trying to reach.


Before learning the specific steps to create them, I’d like to show you some acceptable personas, so you have a general idea of what you’re working towards:

How Are Personas Created?

Before you can jump right into creating personas for your business you must first truly understand the audience you are trying to reach. You want to first conduct secondary research. You then use the knowledge gained from that to influence the primary research. Here you will be asking participants about their perceptions of the business, what they value, why they would recommend the organization to others, etc.

Photo by Jason Goodman on Unsplash

Below I have descriptions of the research types and the purpose they hold in creating personas:

Background Research (Secondary):

  • Background research involves looking at information already provided by the specific industry you are looking to create personas for. This can be industry reports, social media, or competition research.
    • This type is incredibly surface level, but it gives an effective look into what you should be looking for when conducting your future primary research

Qualitative Research (Primary):

  • Qualitative research is where the focus groups, interviews, and observations come into play. It is recommended for these to be conducted by a third party, so the participants give real and honest answers rather than what they think you want to hear
    • This data is non-numerical, meaning it is data gathered through observation or active communication. This is the most important because it is incredibly centralized to your specific goals.

Quantitative Research (Primary):

  • Quantitative research uses only numerical data. You can use CRM, surveys, or other technology tools to gather this data.
    • This creates insights on behaviors, actions, and goals. Not as effective as qualitative data, but still constructive if interviews/focus groups are not available.
  • Quantitative Data Tools:

Creation Process

According to this is the best process to follow:

  • Condense: Look for relevant themes
  • Brainstorm: Organize data/themes into persona groups that represent target users
  • Refine: Combine and create rough personas. You should have 3-5 after this step.
  • Make Realistic: Develop rich descriptions of backgrounds, motivations, and expectations. No personal information or humor is allowed.

How Many Personas Should There Be?

There should be no less than 2 personas and no more than 6. You should always aim for about 3-4. This ensures that there are enough to accurately portray the different needs of the website’s user groups. If there are too many, you have simply covered too much of the population, rather than the specific target audience your website is aimed at.

How Are Personas Used to Build Websites?

Personas answer almost all the questions you need without needing to perform usability testing and interviews every step along the way. They make it simpler to know the effectives and value of different elements on each page. It is important to have a professionally well-designed site to create credibility, but it is of greater importance to have a site that is easy to maneuver. You want your site to hold meaning for each of the different personas you created, so they feel it was made specifically for them and their needs.

Using Personas in the Design Process

There are so many ways that personas can be applied to design, whether this is textual, informational, or creative. Listed below are some of the main examples:

  • Tag Lines: Do your tag lines speak to/influence each persona?
  • Value-added Statements/ Calls-to-Action: Did your statements speak to your audience and make them want to continue to use your site?
  • Design: Is your design impressive, professional, and engaging for each of the groups?
  • User Experience: Is it easy and enjoyable to navigate through the site?
  • Features and Functionality: Did the website provide the personas with the tools to fulfill their objectives?
  • Social Media Integration: Does your site make the users want to share it with others on other platforms?

As you can see, personas make a huge impact in the world of web building. Something you may not have known existed is a tool used in nearly every website you use. So now that you have been provided the knowledge and tools for persona building, I hope you find success with it in the future!

If you’d like to learn more, visit these blogs!

Happy web building:)

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Hi Alayna! I found this blog to be very interesting and especially eye-catching. I think your use of images, headings, and bolded words helps to make the content interesting and easy to read. I like how you were able to simplify the more difficult concepts and definitions to make them easier to understand. I had a very broad idea of what personas were before I read your article, but this really helped to solidify the concept for me. Your use of the visual examples of personas was extremely helpful and interesting. As a marketing major, I tend to personify my target markets every day in class and will in my future career. When you think about it, we all fall into a persona category without even knowing it. I found this article about how marketing personas help to improve campaigns and the reach and mission of a project. This is especially relevant to me and my major, and I hope you are able to learn a little bit about this as well!

  2. Hello, Alayna! I enjoyed reading your blog post on personas. As an advertising major, I use this idea a lot throughout my courses. One aspect that I liked is your usage of examples. Being able to visualize what a persona might look like helps in the overall understanding. Your format is also done well, you have good usage of headings, lists, and links. The links you provided all relate well to the overall topic. In addition, the information is written in a tone that is easy to understand, yet appeals to both people who are new to personas and those with previous knowledge. An article that I found that relates to your topic is linked below. It gives further details on the different research styles, the pros/cons of each, and when each method should be used. I feel it’s a beneficial article because knowing when to do which research method can be a bit confusing! As I mentioned I am an advertising major so I do a lot of research, and this article and your blog post really helped in the understanding of that process. Overall, you gave a lot of good information that I can apply in my current courses and future career.


  3. Hey Alayna! I really enjoyed reading your blog. The information you wrote about was chunked well and was easy to read. I particularly like your use of lists; they make reading about personas so much easier! I have a little bit of experience using personas from my intro to professional writing class. However, we didn’t go nearly as in depth with the persona as your blog. It was interesting to learn more about a topic. I had some background knowledge and realized that there is still a lot that I didn’t know. After seeing how important personas are in website creation, I wanted to see what other projects or industries that are benefited by the creation of personas. After some research, I found that personas are beneficial for consultants to use. This was interesting to me because I didn’t make the connection that a consultant has their own customers which can be the businesses they work with. Here is the article that I got this information from:

  4. Hello Alayna!
    I enjoyed your blog quite a bit! I think that you made the information easy to digest, and the pictures of the example personas really draws it all together! I tend to find that using images to describe the point that you’re trying to make really goes the extra mile in bringing the ideas into focus, so I have to applaud you on that. I didn’t realize that there was so much that went into the use of personas, such as the tag lines and social media integration. Something interesting that I found about personas is that it helps you to think like the consumer, specifically if they have a preferred tone and style of communication. Here’s the article I found that on:

  5. Hey Alayna, personas are something I was familiar with before this class, but you did a great job at breaking down exactly what goes into creating a persona and how these can be used to make effective websites. I also didn’t realize how much research was involved in creating a persona. In a way, it almost resembles the research you’d perform when thinking about developing a usability test, namely the qualitative research/focus groups. I’m not sure how effective or ethical it would be, but it seems like you could almost develop a persona from the attributes of participants from a usability test. I also found it interesting how the number of personas should be limited to a maximum of six–the text referred to this as “paralysis by analysis”. Something interesting I found on Code Academy was that another element you can include in a persona is “seasonality”, which basically means that some users might only have certain needs during a certain period of the year. It’s just another thing to consider when trying to develop a realistic, effective persona for website design.

  6. Alayna,
    Your blog post does a great job discussing the challenges in planning a new website and how creating personas is a huge solution. You clearly define personas and the post taught me a lot about how using them enhances user experience. The way you dived deep into the characteristics of personas helped me feel a lot more secure in forming them myself. I also like how straightforward your process for creating the personas was and I think it’s especially important to mention using them when it comes to design elements. To connect to your blog post this week, I looked into how personas can specifically improve e-commerce platforms. This is the blog post I found on it:

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