Information Services

Student personae

Support for building user experience into design.

What is a persona?

A persona is a representation of a person (or group). It isn’t a specific person but should be:

  • realistic / believable
  • not a caricature or a stereotype

Why use personae?

The aim of personae is to help designers think about how people will interact with what they are creating. For instance, when designing a website or app, designers would use personae to help them think about different user needs.

Using personae isn’t a substitute for working with real people, it’s a supplement.

How these personae were created

We worked with the staff of Student Support Services and Widening Participation, and EUSA student reps, to develop a range of student persona that are based on past and present Edinburgh students, and encourage designers to consider accessibility and inclusion in their work.

How these personae can be used

Personae can be used in any part of the design process. At the beginning, they may be helping in establishing who the potential students are, what might be their needs and how support could be designed in. Later, specific persona may be used to ‘road test’ a design, to examine how a student might experience it.

This set of personae, though personalised to Edinburgh, is otherwise generic; it aims to cover a full range of possible students studying any programme or course, at any level and in any discipline. If it is to be used in a specific context e.g. postgraduate induction, online short courses, it may be more appropriate to use a subset of the personae and/or adapt their content to suit the context.

Student personae OER

These student personae have been shared as an OER (open educational resource) in two formats (the Word document can be printed double sided to produce personae cards):

Student personae OER [link to a Xerte learning object]


Online training in student personae is available as a scheduled session but also as a bespoke session for staff or students on request (simply contact us via HelpLine):


More information

For more information about Learning Design development at the University of Edinburgh, please contact the Learning Design team, we are based in Learning, Teaching and Web Services Directorate, Information Services.