Time required:


Number of participants:

At least two persons, but works well in teams


printed persona/user-sheet (A4)
Paper or sticky notes for insights capturing


Brian Frandsen


Want to hear more about Speeddating your user while making personas?

Want to hear more about Speeddating your user while making personas?

When working with innovation and generating new ideas for services or products, there are often good intentions of involving the user early on to inform and validate our assumptions, ideas, and proposals. However, often it’s not feasible due to constraints such as budgets, time, or other resources. But that doesn’t mean you cannot apply the principles of user-centered design – you just need to engage your inner role-player or actor and draw insights already available to you through your experiences with the user.

This tool helps you organize knowledge about your user, and in doing so, creates personas that you can utilize throughout your process. A persona is a fictional person who represents your user or target group. The persona is defined by as many details as possible, making it easy for everyone on the team to imagine how this fictional person would react if presented with ideas, perspectives, or questions that arise during the innovation process. In that sense, personas can be used when feedback from real users is not readily available and serve as an everyday reference point when discussing decisions to be made. Often, you will have several different personas to represent your entire user group.

How to use the tool:

  1. Define your targetgroup and scope. In your team, discuss your target group. Decide on a few general characteristics and then determine the most important questions. Is it what motivates them to do certain things? Is it what holds them back? Is it related to their dreams, fears, or beliefs? Or is it a hands-on curiosity about how they navigate a normal day in their life? Everything can be relevant here, but remember to keep an open mind and define your questions broadly to learn as much about your user as possible. Decide on 1-3 questions or themes.
  2. Assign roles. One of you will play the user, and one will be the interviewer (or date, if we maintain the dating metaphor ;)). The person playing the user starts by filling in the top three boxes of the user profile/persona sheet. The interviewer/date prepares how to approach the interview/date in a way that will provide as much information related to your questions or themes. If it makes sense, the interviewer/date can use the neurological mapping diagram for note-taking, simple sheets of paper, or sticky notes. Make sure to write down your insights one by one so that others can easily differentiate and read them.
  3. Now the date or interview begins. The person playing the user builds the character along the way, answering the questions on your user/persona sheet during the conversation.The interviewer/date aims to gather information related to the theme or questions about the user. Try to stay in character and have fun exploring who this user is. Set a timer and continue the conversation until time runs out or until you feel you cannot gain more information from this approach. (But keep it to a maximum of 10-15 minutes.)

If you are a group of more than two people working on the same challenge, first narrow down your target group and primary questions/themes together, then divide into pairs and proceed with the exercise’s steps. To add excitement, you can implement the speed dating principle of rotation, so that the interviewer/date rotates to the next user every five minutes, making it more dynamic and offering each interviewer/date a sense of different representatives of the same target group.

This way, the exercise serves as a quick method to generate a range of sketches for different personas within your target group. You can later flesh them out in even more detail or keep them as they are.

Extra downloads:

Examples in use:

Other tools and methods:

  • Thing of the Future – A Speculative Warm-Up

    Go to the future to challenge your assumptions, biases and suspend your inner critical voice, by using this tool originally designed by Stuart Candy

    Thing of the Future – A Speculative Warm-Up

  • 5 Step Storyboarding
    – Use storytelling as prototype

    Test, test, test.. You can never test your ideas ioo early or too often. The 5 Step Storyboard is a quick way to communicate your idea and get feedback.

    5 Step Storyboarding
    – Use storytelling as prototype

  • Give shape to your idea – The Pre Concept

    Create Pre-Concepts for your early ideas to better assess what will work and what needs further development.

    Give shape to your idea – The Pre Concept

  • Make brainstorming easy and fun: Brainstorm Sudoku

    The Brainstorm Sudoku helps you frame your brainstorming session and guides you to quickly generate a larger pool of more creative ideas to choose from.

    Make brainstorming easy and fun: Brainstorm Sudoku