Organizations now routinely collect information about the needs of their consumers/users, but this information is not sufficiently utilized. This research investigates how encapsulating the user needs in a persona affects the resulting design decisions. Personas put a face on the target users and create a vivid design target by using a narrative, picture, and name. In our study, we examine whether personas help designers make more effective design decisions. We also focus on the roles of empathy and memory, and investigate whether personas introduce greater empathy into product design. The results suggest that personas lead to more effective designs when empathy for the persona is created. On the other hand, when the user needs are summarized in a tabular format, the participants must rely on memorization of the user information. The implications of the results and how follow-up studies will tackle unanswered questions are explored.