The persona is design artifact that represents a large market of people regardless of age & gender (in most cases) that have the same problems, goals motivations and behaviors.
It can be created before research based on assumptions (Unvalidated Persona). Mostly it is created after research. The goal is to capture the VALIDATED real world context, problems, behaviors/activities, needs/goals and motivations in one design artifact called the persona.
THE "NEEDS" ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT PART TO CAPTURE BECAUSE
THESE ARE WHAT YOU WILL BE DESIGNER FOR. IF YOU ARE WORKING ON A PROJECT, IT'S IMPORTANT TO KNOW THE ANSWER THIS QUESTION:
YOU'RE WORKING ON A FEATURE AND SOME ASK YOU:
HOW DOES THIS (WHAT YOU ARE WORKING ON) HELP OUR USER?
THE ANSWER SHOULD TIE BACK TO THE PERSONA NEEDS
– AUTOMATICALLY INTRODUCES USER CENTERED DESIGN
— KEEPS CONVERSATIONS USER FOCUSED AND NOT SOLUTION OPINION FOCUSED
– REMINDS US DAILY THAT WE ARE NOT THE USERS OF PRODUCT, SO WE MAKE ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT USERS 1ST
– HELPS US IDENTIFY THEM WHEN OUT IN THE WILD
– MAKES IT EASY TO INTRODUCE THE USER DURING MEETINGS, DEMOS AND STAKEHOLDER POP-INS
– ACTS AS A "MEDIUM" TO RESOLVE QUESTIONS, OPINIONS THAT IN CONFLICT, AND KEEPS US USER FOCUSED