Archetypal Personas

Modular persona template development

User Research
Personas have a mixed reputation because they are often created with little insight into user behavior, while attempting to represent the goals and characteristics of larger groups of users.


Our research team at Intuit in the Small Business Management Solutions division wanted to create and invigorate personas with meaning and purpose, while bringing the user to life for teams. We wanted to avoid creating typical personas that are:

  • product-specific
  • device-specific
  • have fake pictures
  • use fake demographic data e.g. names, age, occupations, pets

Our process

We approached this project at an ecosystem level across different products, from a small business' perspective, and with a focus on their actual behaviors. We synthesized:

  • Current and historical customer insights
  • Trends
  • Market data
  • Customer psychographics
  • Analytics

Within this data, we narrowed our focus to capturing behaviors, motivations, aspirational goals, and context.

Our team of 3 researchers took an exhaustive inventory of all current and historical customer insights found across different Intuit departments. We also partnered with our analytics team, and solicited multiple rounds of feedback on early frameworks with a cross-section of leadership and product experts (designers, writers, product managers).


Our modular personas consisted of 1 overview across multiple customer types and 3 customer archetypes. These quickly influenced how our product teams are thinking of the customer differently with product- and device-agnostic lenses. They also impacted key product line-up discussions within our division.

Page 1 of the graphical template of a customer persona archetype.

Page 2 of the graphical template of a customer persona archetype.

Sources of inspiration

7 Core Ideas About Personas And The User Experience by Jeff Sauro

Archetypes not Personas by Paul Farino

No BS Personas SXSW talk by Stephanie Carter and Jill Christ for + Bolt | Peters