No Clairvoyance: Data-driven Creation of Personas

Together with Steganos we analyzed their target users. We ran an online survey to create Personas based on valid and representative data.

Personas, as well as other artifacts, should always be created data-driven and must not base on guessing. We introduce methods for the quantitative and qualitative analysis of users and show how such results looks like.


It is not unusual that good start-up ideas get compromised over the time and become bloated. Each newly introduced feature that fits special requirements jeopardizes general usability. So we suggest to check the target group regularly to make sure that goals and requirements of users haven’t changed so far.

Steganos is a well known developer of security related software. Over many years their tools and programs have grown to applications and suites, leading to a rather wide spread portfolio. At this point we were asked to help. The questions were: Who is the customer? How does she use the tools? Answers are needed to make business decisions based on the actual user population.


For evaluation of target users we recommend to create so called Personas as some kind of typical or target user. Personas are a handy tool to communicate about users, to focus development, and along with scenarios to create ‘usability style use-cases’. However, a Persona must not be generated based on guessing and arbitrary assumptions but on valid and representative data. Those data can be retrieved from many sources. For instance an existing user data base might be analyzed or guerilla studies can be conducted. Together with Steganos, we decided to conduct an online survey on UserWeave. To analyze the users’ structure we asked questions on age, gender, social integration, preferences, and fears in terms of software security. Our hypothesis was that every tool has its own audience from elder people that use the password manager to younger and more active people with security concerns on data thievery.


The results are quit surprising. Out of 3983 responses in total we have 2325 people that completed the study. That response quote of almost 60% is a fairly high value in the context of a non incentive study. It emphasizes the users’ interest in the Steganos products. The age pattern shows that, except one tool that has been created recently for younger people, the users are rather elderly people. The overwhelming amount of users are male (only 59 female participants). Mostly the tools are used for a private purpose (82.5%). Usage for business purpose only (3.6%) or for both private and business (10.8%) is less common. Last but not least the most interesting result for Steganos: most users totally agree with the product and would recommend it to friends (80,8% answer with one or two on a five scale semantic differential with the anchors ‘yes’ and ‘no’).

Recommendation of product


Together with more specific questions and with analysis of free text answers we were able to create a very specific Persona. This Persona allows Steganos to make management decisions based on real world data and will lead the future development. For instance, bearing the age structure in mind they can focus on elderly people with the existing products. Usability has to take this into account. On the other hand, if the management wants to attract a younger audience, it would probably make sense to create new products for them, that do not interfere with the existing audience.

If you want to learn more about Personas and Scenarios, Animatas and Destinatas, and how to profit from them in your situation, we are happy to help. For instance we offer a variety of training courses.

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