Building data-driven personas [Online Course]

Learn to build data-driven, effective personas based on research

Online course:
Building data-driven personas

By Stefania Mereu, Director of UX & Design @ Pearson

Course length: 8h

Some of the companies that train their teams at CXL Institute:

Customer personas can really drive your business forward

If you base them on data, not fluff and subjective ideation.

This course will teach you to combine qualitative research with quantitative methods to build truly representative personas in a research-based method that is both fast and rigorous.

In just 8 sessions, you’ll be able to…

  • Build truly representative and effective personas based on research.
  • Quantitatively segment your customer or user base.
  • Conduct successful interviews to integrate qualitative data into your personas.

Great course. The examples were very useful [along with] the constant repeating of the main aspects

Katrin Vogelgsang, Web Analyst @ Ippen Digital GmbH & Co. KG

Learn how to build strong personas and actually put them to use

In this course you’ll learn to identify elements of good personas, and provide you with actionable ways to incorporate them in your organization.

The course will also outline the difference between two different approaches in building personas—data-driven vs. hypothesis-driven. You will learn the advantages and disadvantages of each approach and understand which circumstances make one method more appropriate than the other. You’ll also learn to optimally combine qualitative research with quantitative data.

Lastly, you will learn how to package and market your personas in your organization.

I learned how to work with R a few years ago, but haven’t used it much since I started working. It was really nice to see a practical example of how to use R for one of the toughest marketing challenges – creating actionable personas.

Natalie Jamieson, Growth Hacker @ RockBoost

This course is right for you if…

  • You’re involved in any customer or user centric effort in a medium to large organization.
  • You own a startup of any kind, with or without existing customer or user base.
  • You’re a UX designer or UX researcher looking to step up their strategy game.

This course is probably not for you if…

  • You’re the user of your product (hint: this is an extremely rare circumstance).
  • You already have your bullet-proof method to create personas.
  • Your company’s monetization strategy exclusively depends on technology advancement.

Skills you should have before taking this course

  • Domain expertise on your specific industry (e.g., Marketing, UX Design, etc.)
  • Basic knowledge on how to use an electronic spreadsheet (i.e., data handling and graphs).
  • Basic statistics understanding (probability, descriptive statistics such as mean and mode, data summary and visualization)is ideal, but not completely necessary.

About your instructor,
Stefania Mereu

Stefania is a UX Data Scientist, Strategist & Evangelist. She is director of user experience at Pearson. Before then, she was Sr. Quantitative UX Researcher at Express Scripts and Vice President of Research at Vast, a medium size startup that raised $14 million last year.

Previously, she worked as a Statistician and Human Factors Engineer at the Federal Aviation Administration and as a researcher at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She also served as a consultant for Fortune 500 companies, including Southwest Airlines, USAA and Google.

She obtained a doctorate degree in Cognitive Psychology from Sapienza University of Rome in Italy. She loves teaching, spending time with her family, cooking delicious Italian food and playing board games. She also loves music. Fun fact: her graduate school job was at a record store specialized in rare vinyl. She was also a freelance contributor of an Italian music magazine.

Your full course curriculum

Building data-driven personas

Lesson 1


This introductory lecture will guide the user through some general, but important considerations about the use of personas in an organization, and will present a few real world use cases. What are they? How do you build them? And why?

Lesson 2

Elements of good user personas

The lecture will explain what elements need to be included in personas, how to make personas actionable, and how to maximize personas effectiveness by adapting their elements to the context in which they'll be used.

Lesson 3

Hypothesis-driven vs data-driven personas

The third lecture will present two approaches in the creation of user personas, and will rationalize advantages and disadvantages of each approach.

Lesson 4

Quantitative, data driven user segmentation

This lecture will introduce you to the data-driven, quantitative method of creating personas.

Lesson 5

Qualitative validation of user segments

This lecture will introduce you to the process of creating personas through qualitative techniques.

Lesson 6

Examples of personas for different industries

This lecture will follow up on Class 2, by presenting realistic use cases of personas for different industries. The lecture will explain which elements and data point are most useful for three different types of personas: customer personas, user personas, and marketing personas.

Lesson 7

Put it together and sell it

The process of packaging the persona is important to ensure that personas will be used in the organization. I'll show how to package the personas to ensure effectiveness in the evangelization process.

Lesson 8

Practical examples and wrap-up

We'll examine several examples of student submitted data, and try to imagine what kind of personas the data could generate.

Show off your new skills: Get a certificate of completion

Once the course is over, pass a test to earn a CXL certification.

Add it to your resume, your LinkedIn profile or just get that well-earned raise you’ve been waiting for.

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You can add your education, certificates, badges – everything you learned and earned at CXL Institute into the Education section of your profile.

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