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Replacing personas with characters: Resolving the destructive effects of personas

We used to call these kinds of personas Living Personas.

“Over the years, many people have recognized that Personas can cause more problems than they solve. To fix this, designers began making Personas bigger and more rich. Some Personas can be 1-2 typed pages which meticulously describe attributes of these imaginary customers. Yet, no amount of colorful attributes can fill the gaps our brains will automatically fill when reading Personas. These missing gaps are the causalities which drove the customer to consume a particular product.”

Alan Klement a.k.a. @alanklement | /aklement (courtesy of vanderbeeken)

Audience-based navigation: 5 reasons to avoid it

‘Mutual exclusive’ sounds like taxonomy thinking. There’s one best to organize stuff.

“Role-based IAs increase cognitive effort and user anxiety. Clear language and mutually exclusive categories reduce the chance of harming the user experience.”

Katie W Sherwin a.k.a. /katiewsherwin | @kwsherwin ~ Nielsen Norman Group

Crafting a design persona

Anything you can use to stimulate your empathy.

“Crafting a design persona is an intense exercise that requires the the time and involvement of team members throughout your company. While the work may seem daunting, it is well worth it. By investing in your product’s design persona, you are investing in future advocates of your product—and creating a source of design inspiration for your team.”

(Meg Dickey-Kurdziolek a.k.a. @megak ~ A List Apart)

Personas make users memorable for product team members

Empathy needs tools to grow. Personas are intended to do so.

“When based on user research, personas support user-centered design throughout a project’s lifecycle by making characteristics of key user segments more salient.”

(Aurora Bedford ~ Nielsen Norman Group)

A closer look at personas: A guide to developing the right ones (2/2)

Besides wireframes, prototypes and task maps, personas still remains one of the poster childs of UCD.

“How can designers create experiences that are custom tailored to people who are unlike themselves? As explained in part 1 of this series, an effective way to gain knowledge of, build empathy for and sharpen focus on users is to use a persona. This final part of the series will explain an effective method of creating a persona.”

(Shlomo Goltz a.k.a. @MoGoltz ~ Smashing Magazine)

Persona Grata: Welcoming users into the interaction design process

Personas in the play of interacting with organizations, people and communities.”

“(…) I have come across many strategies and approaches to help increase the quality and consistency of my work, but none is more misunderstood or misused than the persona.”

(Shlomo Goltz a.k.a. @MoGoltz ~ UX magazine)

Persona empathy mapping

In the end, empathy will also have its limits for great design. But we’re not there yet.

“Empathy — it’s a buzzword in the UX design world. Everybody’s doing it! But what exactly are they doing? There isn’t a quick ‘Empathy Filter’ that we can apply to our work or our team, no formula to pump out results, and no magic words to bring it forth. There is, however, a simple workshop activity that you can facilitate with stakeholders (or anyone responsible for product development, really) to build empathy for your end users. We call it Persona Empathy Mapping.”

(Nikki Knox ~ Cooper Journal)

How to breathe life into personas

Credibility is still the element which defines its quality.

“Personas are essential when you are working on a project and don’t know the target audience very well. (…) Creating a model of your target audience may help you and your stakeholders feel significantly more empathy for those people.”

(Barnabas Nagy ~ Boxes and Arrows)

Using personas for executive alignment

The customer is not who you think it is, shareholder, stakeholder or stockholder.

“(…) there was an unspoken goal to bring design thinking, gamestorming and traditional UX practices into the executive suite. We wanted to see how it would fare and how the team would react. It was our hope that this would give UX an even stronger foothold at the executive level then it enjoys today. Given the feedback received, the team enjoyed the exercise and saw value in it. Whether we’ll get invited back will be answered in time.”

(Jeff Gothelf a.k.a. @jboogie)

User stories don’t help users: Introducing persona stories

Extending the reach of personas to scenarios.

“User stories are one of the most popular alternatives to traditional user requirement specifications. But despite their promising name, user stories are not about – and don’t necessarily help – users at all. In most cases, user stories are written about roles that users adopt and take no account of the needs and behaviors of real users. Were that not indictment enough, user stories suffer from demonstrable flaws in structure and are often written by the wrong people at the wrong time. Here, I examine the background of user stories in their current form, highlight their failings, and propose a more appropriate alternative for the development of interactive systems: persona stories.”

(William Hudson ~ ACM Interactions Magazine November/December 2013)

Expanded user journey maps: Combining several UX deliverables into one useful document

The more data the document contains, the stronger the need for proper information design.

“UX deliverables had a rocky year so far. I feel particularly bad for the humble wireframe, which took some serious knocks over the past few months. There’s also a growing skepticism about the value of Personas. The Persona thing made me particularly uneasy because I’ve always been a huge fan, and we still start most of our projects with a workshop to define Personas and User Journeys.”

(Rian van der Merwe ~ Elezea)

Love, hate, and empathy: Why we still need personas

Timeline forgets the very first personas for design: Henry Dreyfuss’ Joe and Josephine (1955).

“These steps (solid research, creative analysis, and compelling presentation and rollout) can bring teams back around to a tool that they badly need. Feel free to dump the shallow personas that people roll their eyes at. It’s time to reengage with empathetic work by making your users real, and letting their real voices be heard.”

(Kyra Edeker and Jan Moorman ~ UX Magazine)

Are personas still relevant to UX strategy?

They will always be a great starting point for the unknowns of empathy and UCD.

“There have been some who have proclaimed the impending demise of personas as a UX design approach since shortly after their introduction. While the optimal approach to creating and employing personas is still evolving—thanks to more useful data becoming available to design teams and new project-management methods—their usefulness has not yet diminished. If anything, personas have become even more useful because they put a human face on aggregated data and foster a user-centered design approach even within the context of efficiency-driven development processes.”

(Paul Bryan a.k.a. @paulbryan ~ UXmatters)

Creating Socionas: Building creative understanding of people’s experiences in the early stages of new product development

Personas going social. Next up: Mobinas.

“Creating Socionas seeks to address two questions: What do design teams need to understand about the social to develop products and services that delight users? And how can they build this understanding under the constraints of new product development practice?”

(Carolien Postma ~ Delft University of Technology IDStudiolab)

Personas: A Critical Investment For Content Strategy

Personas as the silver bullet to guarantee empathy?

“Content strategy isn’t really a discipline but a defined approach to handling an organization’s content consistently across departments and channels. It can only be effective if it becomes ubiquitous to the processes and procedures that already exist within business – communications, public relations, customer service, marketing, graphic design, IT, etc. While the defined strategy may be about content, the tactics by which we achieve our content goals are really about people. Who are we publishing content for? How will they interact with the content we present? How do they define relevancy? What is meaningful and engaging to them? Borrowing a tool that user experience and interaction designers have used for years, personas are a powerful way to not only create and implement a sound content strategy, but to facilitate its adoption by everyone in the organization.”

(Kristina Mausser a.k.a. @krismausser ~ Follow the UX Leader)

Why Personas are Critical for Content Strategy

Personas are great for any UX field, content strategy included.

“The most popular content strategy tools borrow from the discipline of information architecture, but there is one invaluable tool that is imperative to the process of strategy and implementation of tactics that we can thank our user experience cousins for: personas.”

(Kristina Mausser a.k.a. @krismausser ~ Johnny Holland Magazine)

Pragmatic Personas

“Knowing who will use your software is important to the software development process. Having the end user in mind helps you develop features that fit the user’s needs. And, figuring out your end user, as Jeff Patton reveals, is indeed easy. In this column, Jeff details stereotypes to avoid, questions to ask, and how to implement this pragmatic persona in your development process.” (Jeff Patton ~ StickyMinds)

Using Personas During Design and Documentation

“(…) although demographics and task analysis play an important part in persona creation, personas are more than just a collection of user profiles and groups. You should make them as real as you can. They should embody all the human attributes you’d expect to find in your users. For example, they could be moody, very task oriented, work in a specific type of environment, or even hate the idea of referring to documentation unless they are absolutely compelled to do so.” (Niranjan Jahagirdar and Arun Joseph Martin ~

Personas: Explorations in Developing a Deep and Dimensioned Character

“If we are going to begin to address these issues, we need to get at the root of the problem—our empathetic understanding of our users. Having empathy for users and understanding their needs doesn’t come from reading words on a page. It doesn’t come from statistical analysis of demographics either. It comes from truly embodying and experiencing the character of a persona, so it becomes ingrained emotionally and physically in our memories. Actors understand this. From the time Stanislavski began teaching Method Acting – a process of transformation in which actors begin to take on the true nature of a character – actors have referred to this moment when they realize a character’s emotional memory and have truly become the character as the moment of embodiment.” (Traci Lepore ~ UXmatters)

Storyboards, Scenarios, Design Personas

“Persona design falls far short of its potential without scenario design and walkthroughs. Only putting the personas into action bridges the contexts of use and implementation.” (Design Crux)