What are the rules around including stakeholder demographics in personas (ex: gender, age, race, nationality, etc)?

Are any of these factors considered off limits or are these factors generally considered relevant to gaining a better understanding of stakeholders? I could see how there could potentially be some debate around this.

2 Answers 2


It depends. You include info on your persona that's helpful in deciding what's in scope and what's not for your product. Sometimes gender matters (e.g. fashion e-commerce site), sometimes it doesn't as much (e.g. financial management tool). Same goes for any other demographic details.

Basically you want to do some research. Are there distinct interest groups around your problem area? If so, what are the defining characteristics of these groups? Then you ask what's the context for these people when it comes to this problem etc.

  • Interesting feedback. Sounds like demographic info should be mentioned but downplayed. Does this seem like a reasonable approach to take? Sep 27, 2015 at 18:26
  • @GregBrattle Coming from how a Product team will be using personas, yes that is my sense of things. If the personas are also used by Marketing though, then demographics may be of more importance. They may be able to pull demographics based research for ways of promoting the product, e.g. what are the best ways of reaching the target groups.
    – nightning
    Sep 28, 2015 at 20:11

I've often found, too, that age can be 'pigeonholing' and that preference safely overrules age. Ie, you wouldn't want to say 'this is Sara, she's a 65 year old, and so doesn't use the app'. Rather, 'this is Sara, 65, who, because of security concerns, doesn't like to use the app'. The focus shifts from age (which can be read as a generalisation, and so excludes users who don't fall into that generalisation) to preference (which is age-agnostic, and can be firmly designed for.)

Doesn't affect much, just something I personally like to bear in mind when writing personas. (There can of course be preferences tied to age, but it's important to design for the former not the latter; you cover a broader range of behaviours/preferences.)

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