Understanding Users Through Three Types of Personas

Lene Nielsen, Marta Larusdottir, Lars Bo Larsen

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


Personas is a suggested method to extend IT professionals' understanding of users and users’ needs. A common advantage expressed is that personas extend the IT professionals’ empathy for the users, but a disadvantage is that personas are typically defined at the start of a software project and gradually are forgotten, since there is little reference to the personas through the software development project. In this paper we report experiences of coaching IT professionals in defining agile user stories based on personas, called: Persona User Stories (PUS). The aim of these workshops, was to extend the usage of personas and thereby extend the IT professionals’ understanding of their users. In a research project with three companies, we coached teams of IT professionals in three-hour workshops with 76 participants in total. The workshops were conducted at each company using personas already defined by the IT professionals. The persona descriptions were based on three types of information: (a) assumptions, (b) secondary research, and (c) data specific to a project. Our findings show that personas based on assumptions result in the participants questioning the description of the personas and having difficulties in understanding the personas. For making the persona user stories (PUS), the participants used themselves more often as a reference when working with the assumption based personas, than the participants using the other two types of personas.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHuman-Computer Interaction – INTERACT 2021
EditorsC Ardito
Number of pages18
Publication date30 Aug 2021
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-85615-1
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-85616-8
Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2021
EventHuman-Computer Interaction – INTERACT 2021 : IFIP Conference on Human-Computer Interaction - Bari, Bari, Italy
Duration: 25 Aug 202127 Aug 2021


ConferenceHuman-Computer Interaction – INTERACT 2021
SeriesLecture Notes in Computer Science


  • Personas
  • User stories
  • Persona user stories
  • Case study
  • Workshops
  • IT professionals


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