Designed an app to help users quickly create printable user personas. The app doesn't require a login, but rather a unique url is created which allows users to to view and edit their personas later.

Since the persona is designed to be printed, we elected to have all the editing be done inline so that the user as a live print preview of their persona as they create it. Since the editing is done inline, we prefill the persona with "starter" data, to better show what each area looks like and to set expectations of what data should be entered.

During user testing some users took to the system immediately and started editing the default without any prompting, while others thought they had landed on someone else's persona and didn't realize that they can and should edit it.

The downside of not having a traditional login is that there's no way beyond cookies to detect if a user has been there before.

With that in mind, how do I best demonstrate to users that they can edit the default persona and that their work is accessible later (albeit in a non traditional manner)?

Screenshot of Persona App

It's still very much a work in progress, but here's a link so you can better understand the experience:


Edit: Added a dismissible template selector that allows users to choose from a few different persona templates, including a blank persona which utilizes some placeholders to describe what content should be in there

Screenshot of updated app


  • 2
    Have you tried just using placeholder data? Standard default profile, Lorem Ipsums for the longer text, "Value 1", "Value 2", or "Insert Value" for bullets, all the bars starting at 50%, etc?
    – DasBeasto
    Jan 24, 2017 at 15:34
  • My concern in doing that is that we'd be requiring the user to start from zero. Prefilling it means we can set expectations of what a completed persona should look like. Obviously this solves one problem while creating another, but imho I think staring from zero is a more difficult hurdle for users to overcome. Plus, not every field has a label, like the quote and description areas.
    – rickymetz
    Jan 24, 2017 at 15:51
  • Gotcha, that does make sense. Then perhaps just make that notification you already have more pronounced, like a dismissable modal right in the center of the page.
    – DasBeasto
    Jan 24, 2017 at 15:56
  • 1
    @rickymetz regarding "starting from zero", I don't think pre-filling the fields with "typical" data is going to save anyone much time. I bet that everyone is going to change most fields. So if people are confused with the pre-filling and most fields are changed anyway, then I think a clearer approach to the template is more practical, such as "Enter your name here", and "Enter your age here", etc. Jan 24, 2017 at 18:18
  • @bloodyKnuckles That's a valid point. Maybe a potential solution is to have more practical prefilled values as you've said, and to give users the option of selecting from a few "templates" of prefilled personas
    – rickymetz
    Jan 24, 2017 at 19:48

2 Answers 2


Some applications use a soft method of onboarding. I think there was a site that allowed you to create layered maps and then once you were ready to save all you had to do was enter an email and the system saved your work and emailed you a link to your profile. Login was simply your email and the choice of a password.

I think this application would work with that kind of method

Also: one thing I want is to save the persona, not print. There could be different output options for this.

Summary: allow users to create account via email; allow saving of persona


After reading @DasBeasto and @bloodyKnuckles comments, I realized that it was best to change the default template to be a blank persona. This would help to invite users in without having them think they're editing someone else's persona.

But since I also wanted to help give users a starting off point, I also added a template selector which allows the users to build off of a few prefilled personas.

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