Creating More Personas Improves Representation of Demographically Diverse Populations: Implications Towards Interactive Persona Systems

Joni Salminen, Soon-Gyo Jung, Lene Nielsen, Bernard Jansen

Research output: Conference Article in Proceeding or Book/Report chapterArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


Personas represent distinct user types. However, while online user data can be demographically and behaviorally heterogeneous, most studies generate less than ten personas, regardless of how heterogeneous the data is. Because all persona creation efforts need to assign a number of personas to create, assigning this number evokes a fundamental question, How many personas to create?. To address this question, we apply data-driven persona creation in a dataset with 250 million YouTube views from a global news and media organization. We focus on a statistically optimal number of personas, namely, how the distribution of demographic persona attributes deviates from the baseline user data. Altering the number of generated personas, ranging from 5 to 160 personas per set, we find that more personas cover more age groups and countries, thus improving the statistical correspondence with the raw user data, and increasing the representation of demographic diversity by including more fringe user segments. While the user representation continuously improved with more personas, the relative diversity gain was maximal with 40 personas, implying that, using our data, one ought to create more than 4 times more personas than generally advocated. The results imply that organizations with heterogeneous online audiences benefit from many personas in terms of more inclusive user representation. We further demonstrate how an interactive persona system can help stakeholders navigate many personas with possibly smaller cognitive effort.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNordic Human-Computer Interaction Conference (NordiCHI '22)
Number of pages10
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Publication date10 Oct 2022
Article number12
Publication statusPublished - 10 Oct 2022
EventNordic Human-Computer Interaction Conference 2022: Participative computing for sustainable futures - Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark
Duration: 10 Oct 202212 Oct 2022
Conference number: 12


ConferenceNordic Human-Computer Interaction Conference 2022
LocationAarhus University
Internet address


  • Data-driven personas
  • number of personas
  • user segmentation

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