The Persona Lifecycle

Keeping People in Mind Throughout Product Design


  • John Pruitt, Senior Program Manager, SharePoint, Microsoft
  • Tamara Adlin, Experience Strategist, adlin, inc.

If you design and develop products for people, this book is for you. The Persona Lifecycle addresses the β€œhow” of creating effective personas and using those personas to design products that people love. It doesn’t just describe the value of personas; it offers detailed techniques and tools related to planning, creating, communicating, and using personas to create great product designs. Moreover, it provides rich examples, samples, and illustrations to imitate and model. Perhaps most importantly, it positions personas not as a panacea, but as a method used to complement other user-centered design (UCD) techniques including scenario-based design, cognitive walkthroughs and user testing. John Pruitt is the User Research Manager for the Tablet & Mobile PC Division at Microsoft Corporation. Tamara Adlin is a Customer Experience Manager at For the past six years, John and Tamara have been researching and using personas, leading workshops, and teaching courses at professional conferences and universities. They developed the Persona Lifecycle model to communicate the value and practical application of personas to product design and development professionals.
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User-Centered Design (UCD)professionals, including usability practitioners, interaction designers; technical writers, and program managers, as well as programmers/developers who act as the interaction designers for software--or those professionals who work with developers and designers.


Book information

  • Published: April 2006
  • ISBN: 978-0-12-566251-2


"Personas personified. The definitive word on why personas are better than people in guiding your designs. Filled with case histories, sidebars, and helpful, useful guidelines as well as deep, penetrating analyses. A big book, and for reason. This book is unique in that it is truly for everyone: the practitioner, the researcher, and the teacher. Did I say this was essential reading? Well, it is: if you use personas, if you have thought about using them, if you don't even know what they are, this is the book for you." - Don Norman, author of Emotional Design and The Design of Everyday Things "Personas are powerful design tools, which are that much more dangerous if they are grounded in weak methodology. Pruitt and Adlin show you how to do personas right and how to base them on real user data. Follow their advice or risk disaster." Jakob Nielsen, author of Usability Engineering and Designing Web Usability: The Practice of Simplicity

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 – The Next Frontier for User-Centered Design: Making User Representations More UsableChapter 2 – The Persona Lifecycle: A framework for the persona approachChapter 3 – Phase 1: Family Planning (planning a persona effort)Chapter 4 – Phase 2: Conception & Gestation (creating personas)Chapter 5 – Phase 3: Birth & Maturation (launching and communicating personas)Chapter 6 – Phase 4: Adulthood (using personas)Chapter 7 – Phase 5: Lifetime Achievement and Retirement (ROI and reuse of personas)Contributed Chapters:Chapter 8 – Users, roles and personas (by Larry Constantine)Chapter 9 - Storytelling and narrative (by Whitney Quesenbery)Chapter 10 - Reality and Design Maps (by Tamara Adlin & Holly Jamesen)Chapter 11 - Marketing versus design personas (by Bob Barlow-Busch)Chapter 12 – Why personas work: The psychological evidence (by Jonathan Grudin)Appendix A- Example PersonasAppendix B- Sample Image Release FormReferencesContributor IndexIndex