Personas are ‘pen portraits’ that bring to life users or customers of a system, service or product. Giving a personality and back story to your customers helps keep your thinking true to their real needs and goals. Rather than using ‘user’ or a segment descriptor such as ’empty nester’, or ‘this is what I would do’, what would Sally do?
Here’s a set of personas for financial service organisations, geared towards the retail / B2C market. Sally is included (Shes skint).