How to create & document User Personas, a framework | PM Notes

Shirish Kadam
4 min readApr 8, 2021
Secret Beach, Mirissa, Sri Lanka

Building empathy with your target users and identifying exactly what they need from the product you’re designing. A persona is generally based on this user research and incorporates the needs, goals, and observed behaviour patterns of your target audience.

Goal-directed Persona

What does my typical user want to do with my product?

The objective of a goal-directed persona is to examine the process and workflow that your user would prefer to utilise to achieve their objectives in interacting with your product or service.

Role-based Persona

Where will the product be used? What’s this role’s purpose? What business objectives are required of this role? Who else is impacted by the duties of this role? What functions are served by this role?

In some cases, our designs need to reflect upon the part that our users play in their organisations or wider lives. An examination of the roles that our users typically play in real life can help inform better product design decisions.

Engaging Persona

These engaging personas are designed so that the designers who use them can become more engaged with them. The idea is to create a 3D rendering of a user through the use of personas.

These personas examine the emotions of the user, their psychology, backgrounds and make them relevant to the task in hand. The perspective emphasises how stories can engage and bring the personas to life.

Personas — A Simple Introduction


A table to note our observations across these different persona perspectives.

Name or Role (Primary Header)

Note the name or alias here. This puts a face on the persona which helps to set the stage from where you can establish a profile of the user. It helps to slip into the shoes of this fictional/non-fictional user. Feel free to include a photo of the user.

Demographic Identity (Secondary Header)

Include the age, gender, location, occupation, income, education or any other such demographic characteristics of the user that helps identify the demographic cohort. Include behavioural (fitness level, lifestyle, purchasing habit, # of usages of activity) or technographical (platform preference, quality of network, comfort with technology) characters if it suits your research agenda. But if you are only at an early exploratory stage then refrain from including such characteristics and instead try to first learn more about these characteristics and opportunities/gaps in them.

Cohort Analytics | Mixpanel

Observations (Column Header)

  1. Goals: Note 1 to 2 goals the user wants to achieve by interacting with your product or service. These goals need to be objective and quantifiable. Try to keep this as concise as possible.
  2. Needs: Needs are the macro requirements that the user has to fulfil to achieve his goals. A simple template follows noting these observations is: To <change> so that <benefit>
    Note here we are not expecting the user to specify the approach with which he prefers to make the change to aim for a certain benefit. Forcing the user to specify the approach is like cornering the user to specify the approach would discourage the open-ended-ness of the conversation. It is good to note an approach the user explicitly specifies but you have to give the same consideration you would give to any other solution during evaluation.
    Another good framework to learn about to note such observations is the Job-To-Be-Done.
    8 things to use in “Jobs-To-Be-Done” framework for product development
    This framework also clearly distinguishes between Functional jobs and Emotional jobs.
    The user needs can be as exhaustive as possible as long as they don’t wander far off from the goals user stated previously. If they are you need to review the needs you noted down and make sure you get them right.
  3. Frustrations: Note down all the frustration or pain points the user goes through while fulfilling those needs. Discomfort with the complexity of the process, user experience. Note the emotions the user feels while following their existing approach. This gives you an insight into where you can provide delight and gain an advantage while implementing the solution for a need. Not every frustration or emotion needs to be attached to a need. You may also include the losses, shortcomings the user faces because of the existing gaps.
  4. Routines: Note down the daily duties, routines and habits of the user to understand where your product or services helps improve the user’s workflow or fits in. Try to note them sequentially. This may also include the responsibilities the user is expected to carry out to ensure the success of his goals (applicable for B2B).
    How to Create a User Persona (with Template) | Paper Leaf


Consider the following example of a Marketing/Support agent for a B2B marketing tool.

User Persona — Needs, Goals, Frustrations & Routines

As originally published on April 6, 2021;