Setting up and using testing personas

Not too long ago on one of the slack channels (it could have been Ministry of Testing I think) someone asked about a template for user personas. I immediately thought of Generic Testing Personas by Katrina Clokie. Just today I read a blog post about Persona based testing.

All of this got me thinking about the different user personas we may adopt and why we adopt them. I am guilty of becoming quite closed minded with persona based testing. Some of my best bugs come from pretending I’m my mum (the impatient user), clicking all around the screen, reading all the fine print on a throttled internet connection. I find that I consider more personas during requirements writing than I do later in the process (post code being written).

What personas do you use for testing? Do you use them all through the development cycle or only at certain points? Are there any you’ve stopped using? Was it because of time constraints or other reasons?


Hi Heather,
pretending to be your mum or my husband (minimum interaction user), grandma (does not understand English), kids (press the shiniest or in favourite colour button on the screen) is the best way how to start! Almost all my personas are based on people around me, because life is more surprising than a fairytale :slight_smile:

I wrote a blog post about names for my test personas not so long ago, but I did not include description and background stories.

Cheers -


I find using Personas really useful for varying exploratory test sessions but there are some pitfalls I’ve comes a cross.

Often personas are created based on assumptions and this leads personas to often follow and reinforce stereotypes. The best personas are created from speaking to or interviewing real users.

Another issue I find is that job information is included within personas (another create way to reinforce stereotypes) and this causes information about the problem we are trying to solve for users to become watered down. I prefer to separate the Persona and the Job/Role information so I don’t lose sight of the users problem.

A technique I find useful when testing using personas is to create a deck of cards of the different personas we have identified and a deck of cards for users jobs or roles. Take a card from each deck and see if they combine to form a valid user for the story I’m testing, and if they do use the combination during the test session. I repeat this process by iterating over different card combinations to find a wide variety of users.

I’ve made blueprint persona card templates available under a Creative Commons license for people to download.


Oh awesome thank you! Were they the cards that were at TestBash Brighton this year? I’m pretty sure I have them in my home office (I’m organising it since changing jobs)

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Yes, they are the same ones

I was on the train at the time but have since found them at home. Really useful!

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That’s great to hear

I’m loving this card idea. Going to give it a go next chance I get! Thanks.


Love this idea to testing. I tottally agree though - I think the best way to test for different users is to simply speak to different types of real users… you don’t want to make assumptions in your personas which may make you test in a biased way or the way ‘you think’ somebody may use something


How about some random personas? They’re people too.


A blog post I found today that suggests using user personas will help define your target audience and avoid a Common UX mistake.

Interesting one:

“Once a persona becomes generalised it becomes outdated.”

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Found another interesting post today about accessibility personas

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Having attended a workshop give by a blind web developer, got me realizing that inclusion is a hard but necessary skill. I love the idea of having a spectrum with permanent, occasional and situational scenarios to broaden testing for these type of users. Thanks for sharing :+1: