Three powerful ways to use the Persona Canvas


If you have ever worked with design or designers, chances are that you have seen multiple varieties of persona’s being used to get a grip on who a customer or user is. We think there is something that is often overlooked though.

What is a persona about?

The basic idea of creating a ‘persona’ for a user or customer is easy to grasp: it is a way to put a face and a name to what otherwise would be a collection of data points and observations. By giving your persona a face and a name, the cloud of observations becomes ‘someone’. Personas are easily referenced in discussions and design meetings. There are even companies where the persona has actually a (symbolic) chair at the table!

So persona’s are great to facilitate talking about your customer. But that’s not doing the concept justice: using a persona can give you a lot of value beyond just figuring our user stories. That’s why we have added our own version of a persona canvas.

Persona Canvas
Persona Canvas

The persona canvas helps you focus more on the mental model you have of a person or group of people – the picture of the persona that you share as a team. Making it visual makes sure everyone has the same picture. And you can use it to create a mental model or profile of ANY person or group!

And when you know that, it is clear that persona’s can be used for many more things that are now left to chance or long discussions.

Three powerful ways to use the persona canvas

  1. Prepare your next meeting by mapping out the personas for the important stakeholders. What are their hopes, their fears? Why are they in the discussion? What are they like? You could spend time before the meeting to figure out if your assumptions are correct, talking to others or the stakeholders themselves. During the meeting, make sure to take notes and update your map afterward.
  2. When you are creating a story (more on storytelling later!) you can use the template to map your audience(s) and what their perspective is. Why would they want to hear your story?
  3. Get to know your team! Have the people in your team make personas of themselves and the others in the team, and compare them. Ask for at least one surprising element to go beyond the businesscard level.

What is your preferred way to use the persona canvas? Send us your pictures and stories!

Also published on Medium.

By Erik van der Pluijm - Designer

Erik is founder and creative director at Thirty-X. He is passionate about visual thinking and making complex things simple. He mixes design, code and strategy, using his experience from art and design, artificial intelligence, computer games, and the startup scene.