Running a Goal-Driven-Personas Workshop

Lily Li
Lily Li
May 14 · 3 min read

What I learned about Personas from working on a product that is at various growth stages in different markets

Common personas workshop templates suggests categories such as profile, age, work experience, education, industry, to build empathy and pseudo rapport with a user type.

The average Personas template doesn’t work for growing products.

However, for a growing product, this type of method doesn’t provide enough insights or take into account of product stages and markets. For example, looking at the average of Traders reveals the average. But it doesn’t reveal the nuances of a Trader in Market A vs B.

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traditional personas vs product-based personas

“John Smith has a degree in STEM” so what?

Personas are supposed to help us empathize with the user but at the end of the day it should help us plan and build features and experiences. After a lot of brainstorming, we came up with:

The idea is to have the workshop participants (PMs, Engineers, Analysts, Sales, Designers) write sticky notes, color coded by market, and place them in the respective quadrants, for each user type.

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a board for each user type

Divide traits into 4 categories:

  • Product Context (what is this user type using the product for, how are they using it)
  • User Goals (what are their goals, with/without the software)
  • Skills (what knowledge/processes do they know, what tools are they using)
  • Insights (what are some specific behaviors or knowledge)

What we observed was this allowed the participants to think in markets and allowed each market team to bounce their info off each other.

We didn’t realize it at the time but this workshop facilitated a discussion between different market teams, comparing and contrasting their work, ideas, and assumptions, allowing the teams to gain empathy beyond personas.

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template in action

Product Oriented Personas Workshop

Define goals:

  • Build empathy and understand users with shared perspective
  • Design and build better features
  • Understand product-market fit


  • 5 min Intro
  • 15 min Characteristics-individual brainstorm
  • 10 min Review as team
  • 30 min Variations in the markets
  • 10 min Review as a team
  • 5 min Wrap up & next steps

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