Persona Canvas: how to define your target users - GovTech Accelerator

Persona Canvas: how to define your target users

The Grey’s Ave Team, from Kainga Ora Auckland, have been tasked with creating an inclusive and thriving community within the new Grey’s Ave site in Auckland’s CBD. This is the first project of it’s kinda, and the team are committed to creating the best outcomes for the community. They not only bring front-line expertise in this space, they are a dynamic team that brings positivity and laughter to the cohort.

When solving high-impact challenges in government, knowing the community you serve is the most important foundation for solving the problems they face. If you don’t know who you’re solving the problem for, there’s a risk you’ll create a solution nobody wants, and no one will thank you for solving a problem they didn’t have. This is why knowing your persona groups is pivotal for identifying the problems and outcomes of any project. In every entrepreneur’s arsenal of tools, there will be a well-defined persona canvas. Not only will this help you create a deeper understanding of the community you serve, but also build empathy with them.


What is a persona canvas?

The persona canvas is a tool that helps you to define and identify your target user(s). You can think of a persona canvas a bit like a profile a detective would create to identify a persona.

In our NZ GovTech accelerator, we introduce the concept of persona canvas during the Problem Discovery sprint – the first of seven sprints. The Problem Discovery sprint focuses on uncovering the root cause of the problem they aim to solve.

The Grey’s Ave team, sponsored by Kainga Ora, have been tasked with creating New Zealand’s first single-site supported living community. The team have taken a meticulous approach to their personas research, carefully carving out those who are most impacted by the problem in order to better understand their challenges. Like most early problem discovery phases, the scope is wide. The Grey’s Ave team have mapped out six different personas, ranging from Kainga Ora tenants and market renters to neighbours and pre-established thriving communities. This has helped the team to not only scope out their problem but also to identify where there are opportunities and to further understand the potential positive impacts of their project.

“By understanding and carving out certain personas we hadn’t thought were too relevant, we were able to see how important those personas were in relation to the success of this project” – Grey’s Ave team

Having these personas developed in the early stages of the project, has created valid reference points that are continuously being refined as the team discovers more about their problem.


How do you craft a good persona canvas?

In the early stages of any problem discovery, it’s only normal to have a lot of assumptions. One of these assumptions may even be the people you believe to be impacted by the problem you’re trying to solve.

When you set out to create a persona canva, it’s important to recognise and consider the different attributes that people may have in relation to the problem – even if they seem minor or irrelevant. This will provide detail and insight for your problem discovery.


A persona canvas is broken down into four key areas:

NAME AND SKETCH: a simple name and image to represent the persona, like “Thomas”

BIO & DEMOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: a short overview of the persona’s skills, passions, hobbies and needs, along with a list of relevant key demographic details, such as age.

GOALS AND ASPIRATIONS: the person’s goals and aspirations relating to the problem

ATTRIBUTION SCALES: some measurable identifying metrics or qualities, such as skill level, experience, motivation or other relevant factors etc

As problem discovery progresses, these personas become more clear and specific – they are a work in progress and will develop along the way!


“Putting yourself in their shoes to better understand and build more empathy towards the people affected. -Greys Ave

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