Ad hoc personas are not based on research, but on what stakeholders (i.e., your leadership, project team) perceive is true of those audiences. We sometimes use ad hoc personas as a tool to understand which audiences are most important, and to identify theories we can explore and/or validate in our research. Ad hoc personas are NOT a substitute for audience research, but are a step toward that research.
Facilitating an Ad Hoc User Persona Workshop
You can run this workshop with your favorite virtual whiteboard tool. If doing it in person you’ll need:
- Posters or flip chart paper
- Markers or pens
- Sticky notes
Ad Hoc Persona Steps:
- Brainstorm a list of your key audiences. Who are we trying to reach and why might they care about us? Be specific.
- Choose the top 3-4 (vote on this if needed).
- Identify any details or characteristics within those audiences that might have a significant impact on their behavior. For example, if “teachers” is one of your audiences, you might need to consider experience level or subject area.
- Create 3-5 specific but fictional people from those audiences. Break your participants up into small groups to work on each persona.
For each persona:
- Name your persona (something you’ll remember).
- Give your persona some personal details.
- If it’s relevant, describe how much experience this person already has with you or with the type of product/service you offer.
- Describe a particular scenario that would prompt them to look for what you offer or come to your website/store/school etc.
- How would they typically look for you (or look for your category)?
- What information/content is most important to them (maybe top 3-5)?
- What motivates them?
- What drives their decision?
- What fears/concerns might they have?
- Draw a sketch of your persona with some memorable details that relate to their personality or story.
- Have each group present their persona to the rest of the participants and discuss.