A persona is basically a “fictional” character or “person” that represents the grouping of real people who share common traits, characteristics, needs and attributes.
For instance, at a University you would have the following personas:
Each of this groups would include people who share certain characteristics with each other, not only due to their role per se, but also due to their needs, wants and haves.
Now when building your persona, you generally go deeper than what we described above into actually creating the fictional character and giving it a name, description, etc. For instance we could say something like John Dylan is a Researcher in his mid 40’s. His life is his research and that drives him. John typically works on solving complex problems and documents them in publications. Having his work featured is really important since it gives him credibility amongst his global peers, strengthens his CV and increases his chances of getting a higher level of funding. John doesn’t like technology getting in the way of his work, so he doesn’t like having to use particular apps dictated by University policy, but being able to choose his own to suit his particular research needs.
Having this persona clearly established and defined would allow you to make better business, project and product decisions by taking into account the information above in your planning or execution. It could even potentially lead to you taking a different approach on the project or launching a specific feature in your product to satisfy requirements from this group of people or persona.
In Business, Product Management or Project Management we use personas for all sorts of things:
Customer Journey Mapping
And many more
The example above was from a University but the same concepts and principles apply for pretty much any other business you can think of.
Take a car dealership for example. You’ll probably have the following personas:
Like we discussed before, these are your high level personas but you can create a more detailed fictional persona to represent the people in each group. Each of these personas will have their own unique characteristics, needs and wants.