The canonical testing persona may be the “testing expert.” The expert has a breadth of knowledge in testing and may coach and mentor many testers on the team. Making testers better is one of the biggest motivators for testing experts, but they also are innovators and provide leadership for the testing team.
Another persona to consider is the “domain expert” or “technical expert.” This persona doesn't have the same breadth of testing knowledge as the testing expert, but instead has deep technical knowledge of the product under test (often more than the developer who writes the component) or is an expert in a specific testing methodology such as security testing or performance testing.
A third example to contemplate is a “customer advocate” or “customer connector” persona. Most testers strive to be customer advocates and the voice of the customer, but customer connectors leverage years of experience and product knowledge to accomplish much more. They may engage directly with customers in newsgroups or forums, or they may blog about their product and how they test it. They work closely with product support to take customer concerns and issues and ensure that test design and approaches reflect deep customer insight.
Getting Started With Tester Personas
These are just a few short descriptions of tester personas and do not represent all potential tester personas, but they do represent some experienced tester roles. It’s important that the personas a team or organization uses represent roles and challenges relevant to the team’s context. Also, keep in mind that these are just descriptions; useful personas will contain information about roles, experiences, and motivations—information that will take the description from words on a page to an almost-real person whom testers can empathize with and aspire to become.
It's perfectly OK to add personas over time, and it’s OK to tweak them a bit, too, as needed. Be careful, however, about removing personas (“Yikes, did my role model just get fired?”) or changing the persona too much (“How can I be inspired when my role model is a moving target?”). Unless (or until) you have great tester role models in an organization, tester personas are certainly an interesting approach to inspire and retain great testers.