Personas – what I know so far

Personas created were by Alan Cooper in the early nineties when he identify the need for a artefact that could easily encapsulate the observations by researcher and consolidate this information in an actionable form. Cooper, (2001) argues that personas engage a designers and developers when design software and help to create empathy when working towards users’ goals.

Personas are not real people, but they represent them throughout the design process. They are hypothetical archetypes of actual users. Although they are imaginary, they are defined with significant rigor and precision.

– Alan Cooper, The Inmates Are Running The Asylum.

In a real user experience project we would based these personas on real-world observation. Instead for the purpose of this project relied on market research data and needed make some assumptions about who we saw a target users of the Ikea app.

We identified many different personas early on but we decided it consolidate 5/6 personas into two strong personas that informed designs through this projects.


Persona development is a model that aims to encapsulate the qualitative data about our target user. Personas are an actionable image that act as a reference for designers that help them to guide them in making decisions when designing software. They illustrate various information about their target user in ways that other deliverables can’t.


  • Personas foster empathy. As a project team we could now replace ‘user’ with our personas name’s. We could talk about them with certainty of their motivations & goals. No longer were we designing blind but designing we the end user in mind.
  • Personas allow designers to make informed design decisions. For example when we know reviewed the our feature-set for the Ikea app, we looked to the persona of Finbarr to ensure the features of the app will facilitate his goals of saving time and convenience. With this we added a much simpler main navigation, that allows the user to quick swap between sections of the app.
  • Personas also allowed us to evaluate effective our app was in carrying our persona carrying out his/her primary task. We later evaluated this even further through usability testing which confirmed some major issues.


Kickoff session on Personas + User Scenarios

We kicked off the process with a Google Hangout on the topics of personas & use scenarios. We organised the hangout for a Monday evening to give us sometime to do our own desk research on the Ikea’s users and so we all had our own ideas of what a persona would look like. We used this 30 minute session to share insights we learned, and then talked through how a user scenario could look like.

As we are all eager to get our ideas for personas out we agreed to create a persona separately and then combine common traits into a primary and secondary persona.

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Google hangout on the top of personas & user scenarios


Now that we had a bunch of personas written, it was then time to sift through all the information identify common themes across them.

We used the method ’clustering and’, a technique taught by John in our first introduction to UX class.

Mariana, did a fantastic job, picking out the common themes across the five personas. Below you will see the full set of themes identified.

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Comparing and clustering of personas

See full list of personas compared here

Then it was my job to combine all the common themes & traits into a primary persona and a secondary persona.


Primary persona – Finbarr

Finbarr’s primary goal was to buy playroom furniture. He is a very busy young father so he want’s to spend the minimal amount of time in the Ikea store but also wants to make sure that he furniture he choses will meet his price, sizing and style requirements.

By having primary persona it ensured we put our main design effort into answering Finbarr’s needs and expectations. In addition to this, any extra feature,  interaction or design element could be assessed against it helps or hinders Finbarr’s goals within the app.


Secondary persona – Mary

Mary is renting a home in Waterford and would like to buy a couch. He needs include, afford, stylish furniture. Her requirements are very different  to our primary personas as a getting inspired is a goal of hers, and in addition to this, one of here biggest frustrations is that she lives so far away from the Ikea store.

With this we identified that, introducing a ‘community’ feature would answer Mary’s goal for inspiration while not hindering Finbarr’s core goals.



Cooper, A. (2008) The Origin of Personas,  retreived from

Cooper, A. (1999). The Inmates are Running the Asylum: Why High Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity. Indianapolis, IN: SAMS Press.