Where do you find persona images?

Not sure if this is the right section to ask, but I thought it may be useful to share where we source our persona images from. I am running out of realistic ones, and find sourcing good images a really time consuming process.

I work with internal teams, so I generally don’t mind too much about licensing (sorry photographers), here’s my usual go to: http://www.exactitudes.com/


Why don’t you simply use Google image search?

This Flickr set might be useful;

There is also this random user generator;


That has a Photoshop extension and an API.

Hope this helps :slight_smile:


That Flickr set is wondefrul, thanks!

Armen, I think google is a bit ‘needle in a haystack’ when trying to find the right image for the persona, I have found it a bit easier to have a narrower selection to work with.

No problem, glad I could help :slight_smile:

To add a few more options to this thread that will hopefully be useful to people;

http://www.uifaces.com - a tool for finding sample avatars for UI mockups

http://facebox.io/ - paid-for, rights cleared UI image set

http://mlkshk.com/user/jabbett - image set created by Jonathan Abbett of Creative Commons-licensed photos of people that are suitable for use in personas

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Hey @dean I’ve been looking at this post for a while now, and it worries me slightly.

I thought the whole idea of conducting deep research and then persona creation was about collecting evidence based on real people.
Therefore if you’re basing your designs on “fake ones” the design will be based on assumptions and not real evidence.

Am I missing something?

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Hi Louise, this post is purely about imagery, and not about the personas themselves. My process for persona generation involves meeting with the various stakeholders and going through some elevator pitches. These are to uncover who business feel are the people that they are solving problems for. I then use these to generate proto personas, which are based on the assumptions held in business.

I use the proto personas to then resource and interview people, and using that knowledge is how I put together the personas.

There’s a lot of pros and cons with personas, and I know that there is some push back but I’ve found them really useful to get everybody on the same page.

So yes, you’re right, persons are based on real insights that you get from user research. The images I use are not of people that I have spoken with though, they are representative.

Hi @dean, thanks for your reply. OK I see, what you’re saying is you create
the proto persona for stakeholders based on an idea of who the biz thinks
the customer is and then use that to recruit, test and create ‘real

Do you then go back and edit or scrap the proto personas? It seems like
alot of work to get to the real persona when all you have to do is reach
out to customers and screen them based on predefined criteria, or is the
predefined criteria the proto persona?


I’ve found it really useful to make sure that business are onboard with the whole process, it isn’t a lot of time at all - you should have stakeholder interviews to find out what the internal knowledge is, part of that is uncovering who they believe their customers are, and what problems they need solving. When you have the proto personas then like most UX deliverables you have to be prepared to ditch them if need be (wireframes and prototypes are throwaway remember) but more often than not they can be refined.

An example. A project I’ve just worked on had five internal stakeholders define ‘user types’ at different stages of their journey. These were done individually, but everyone I spoke with defined the primary audiences the same. A teacher looking for support, a teacher who wants to provide training on the product, a parent pre-purchase, and a parent looking for extra training. I was able to use this base information to locate people to talk to, to uncover their actual needs and to make sure we were trying to solve the right problem(s).


Try my little side project: https://www.userpersonaimages.com/. After amassing a bunch of free stock photos and Creative Commons-licensed, I started organizing them in a gallery here.


Hi Dean - I came across this article about using cartoons or drawings on personas, instead of real photographs: https://www.cxpartners.co.uk/our-thinking/dont-use-photos-in-your-personas/

I’d love to get your take on this practice. It seems like a good practice to me, but I have no experience presenting personas to an audience (yet).



Hey Louise. You are right that personas are to be grounded in data and are essentially a ‘data visualisation’. The thing about personas, that makes them more than just a chart or a diagram, is that they elicit empathy. We use photos to help trigger that empathic response. Ideally the empathy already exists, because the persona audience has been exposed to the data and has internalised it, the personas are about channelling that empathy into which insights are relevant to design.

I worked on a design project in the infectious diseases department of a hospital. Our design personas were very diverse in terms of life experiences. We needed photos to accurately convey the patient ‘type’. It a) helped with the empathy, but also b) helped to tacitly communicate to stakeholders that the designers understood the different types of patient.

Our images were very powerful. The lead clinician at first thought we had used photos of real patients (of course we hadn’t) and our photo for the persona who was a patient with a lot of challenges and anxiety was so ‘accurate’ that the clinician said ‘I can’t look at that guy, he’s too real.’

The authenticity of the photos helped to reinforce the credibility of the personas.


Those are nice @doyle_katherinem but they are mostly quite trendy. I’m starting to think there’s a gap in the market for mundane, middle-aged and nerdy photos. I am trying to find normal people.


as a mundane middle aged person, I agree…LOL. I also find that if the persona has a specific job, I like to use those props… for example, if the persona is in health care, I like someone wearing scrubs, or if they are a person who like sports, I want them wearing sporting equipment, or attending a game, etc…