CN06 - The Persona Lifecycle: What Personas Are, Why They Work, and How to Create and Use Them

Tamara Adlin, Adlin Inc.
John Pruitt, Microsoft
Jonathan Grudin, Microsoft Research

Learn why personas can be an effective technique for design, development, and testing, when they are likely to be useful, and how to use them effectively. Get hands-on experience with practical persona creation and use methods.

In its first appearance, at CHI 2007, this course received extremely positive feedback (at the top end of the scale across the board). Tamara Adlin and John Pruitt have led several two-day workshops and published a book on The Persona Lifecycle,covering the planning persona efforts, the creation and use of data driven personas, the ‘retirement’ of personas, and measures of ROI of the persona effort. Jonathan Grudin has lectured on the psychology of persona use.


  • What are personas?
  • How can personas be used effectively as a communication and design tool?
  • The psychological evidence that explains or supports their effectiveness.
  • Strategies for using personas effectively.
  • Caveats regarding the use of personas.
  • Hands-on experience creating data-driven personas.
  • Hands-on experience using data-driven personas to help plan, design, evaluate, and support the release of products.

The course is intended for those who are or might be engaged in team-based design and development, those who teach design methods, and those interested in the psychology of design.

The first unit will be lecture. The second unit will focus on practical methods for creating data-driven personas and will include several hands-on exercises. The third unit will be lecture and demonstrations of methods for using personas throughout the product design and development process. Finally, the instructors will lead a discussion and Q&A session.

Instructor background:
Tamara Adlin is the president of Adlin, Inc., a customer experience consulting firm. She introduced personas at before starting her consulting business, and has since worked with companies including Apple Corporation, Zillow, Payscale, and Facebook, among others (for more information, see John Pruitt has over 15 years of experience in usability and user research and is currently a Senior Program Manager at Microsoft working on the next version of SharePoint. John and Tamara have co-conducted workshops on persona use for the Nielsen/Norman Group. Jonathan Grudin received a Ph.D. in experimental psychology and is now a Principal Researcher in the Adaptive Systems and Interaction Group at Microsoft Research.