User Personas for Privacy and Security

“Personas summarize user research findings and bring that research to life in such a way that everyone can make decisions based on these personas, not based on themselves.” — Steve Mulder, The User Is Always Right

What is a user persona?

A user persona is a focused, easy-to-relate-to summary of research on a group of people who might use a particular piece of software, hardware, or a service. Personas help us engage in complex systems thinking about people using these tools, and how the tools fit into their lives.

What is a persona for?

Personas serve a handful of uses:

  • Identify candidates for user tests, or even a lens through which to view walkthroughs of the software
  • Having a common document that everyone from developers to the marketing team can refer to makes it easier to communicate quickly about who is being served
  • Justify particular development decisions
  • Help teams see and feel through the eyes of the people who may be using the software, empathizing with their situation
  • Bring the user experience to developers who cannot observe in the field when distance or physical security is an issue (user or developer’s life or liberty might be threatened if they were in contact)

How are personas used?

Personas come in most useful early in a development cycle (whether you’re calling that “requirements analysis,” “hypothesis statements,” or whatever your flavor of development calls it.)

How were these personas made?

These personas were developed from a range of sources:

Security and usability researcher and designer. Past portfolio:

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