The Persona Lifecycle: Keeping People in Mind Throughout Product Design

  • 15h 17m
  • John S. Pruitt, Tamara Adlin
  • Elsevier Science and Technology Books, Inc.
  • 2006

If you design and develop products for people, this book is for you. The Persona Lifecycle addresses the how of creating effective personas and using those personas to design products that people love. It doesn’t just describe the value of personas; it offers detailed techniques and tools related to planning, creating, communicating, and using personas to create great product designs. Moreover, it provides rich examples, samples, and illustrations to imitate and model. Perhaps most importantly, it positions personas not as a panacea, but as a method used to complement other user-centered design (UCD) techniques including scenario-based design, cognitive walkthroughs and user testing.

John Pruitt is the User Research Manager for the Tablet & Mobile PC Division at Microsoft Corporation. Tamara Adlin is a Customer Experience Manager at For the past six years, John and Tamara have been researching and using personas, leading workshops, and teaching courses at professional conferences and universities. They developed the Persona Lifecycle model to communicate the value and practical application of personas to product design and development professionals.


  • Presentation and discussion of the complete lifecycle of personas, to guide the designer at each stage of product development.
  • A running case study with rich examples and samples that demonstrate how personas can be used in building a product end-to-end.
  • Recommended best practices in techniques, tools, and innovative methods.
  • Hundreds of relevant stories, commentary, opinions, and case studies from user experience professionals across a variety of domains and industries.

About the Authors

John Pruitt is the User Research Manager for the Tablet and Mobile PC Division at Microsoft Corporation, a group leading the quest toward truly mobile computing for both work and personal use. Since joining Microsoft in 1998, he has conducted user research for a number of product releases, including Windows 98SE, Windows 2000 Professional, Windows XP, Windows Vista, and MSN Explorer versions 6, 7, and 8. Prior to Microsoft, he was an invited researcher in the Human Information Processing Division of the Advanced Telecommunications Research Laboratory, in Kyoto, Japan, and worked as a civilian scientist doing simulation and training research for the U.S. Navy.

John holds a Ph.D. in experimental psychology from the University of South Florida and has published articles and chapters on usability methods, skill training, naturalistic decision making, speech perception, and second-language learning. He has been creating and using personas for more than six years, continually developing a more rigorous approach to the method and mentoring numerous product teams at Microsoft and companies worldwide in adopting the technique. John has led workshops and spoken widely on the topic at both academic and industry events.

Tamara Adlin is the founder and principal of adlin, inc., a customer experience consulting company located in Seattle, WA. Tamara has over twelve years’ experience developing user-centered design and user interface design methods. Prior to starting her own company, she managed the customer experience team at Amazon Services, working holistically to create brand-, business-, and customer-centered e-commerce solutions for online and multichannel retailers. She moved to Amazon Services from, where she was a Senior Customer Experience Specialist working with teams across the company to invent and improve user experiences for buyers, sellers, partners, and support professionals. Previously, she was the Human-Centered Design Lead at Attenex Corporation, a legal services software company in Seattle, where she designed advanced document management interfaces. Prior to that, Tamara led teams and designed interfaces for Web applications at Akamai Technologies, INTERVU, and Netpodium Corporation, where she designed the UI for the award-winning Netpodium Interactive Broadcasting Toolset. Tamara started her user experience career as an Engineering Psychologist at the Army Research Laboratory, evaluating human factors issues associated with military systems.

Tamara holds a B.A. from Vassar College and an M.S. in Technical Communication from the University of Washington, where she focused on user interface design techniques and interdisciplinary communications. Tamara has led workshops and been invited to speak all over the world on personas and other user-centered design methods.

In this Book

  • The Next Frontier for User-Centered Design—Making User Representations More Usable
  • Overview of the Persona Lifecycle—Putting the Persona Method into Perspective
  • Persona Family Planning
  • Persona Conception and Gestation
  • Persona Birth and Maturation
  • Persona Adulthood
  • Persona Lifetime Achievement, Reuse, and Retirement
  • Users, Roles, and Personas
  • Storytelling and Narrative
  • Reality and Design Maps
  • Marketing Versus Design Personas
  • Why Personas Work—The Psychological Evidence
  • References