Personas and Product Design

I’m not a huge fan of personas, at least not in the traditional UX sense. They’re kind of a “fuzzy” deliverable that often ends up taking more time than they’re worth and, if taken too seriously, can become a pretty poor stand-in for your actual customers.

Personas aren’t all bad though; I like to think of them as the coffee table book of UX design deliverables, and that makes them a least a bit interesting. They’re great for getting a conversation going—for setting a user-centric tone and keeping customers front of mind—especially among a group of diversely skilled people.

Regardless of my own personal bias, almost every team I’ve been on in has used them in some way or another. Some take them very seriously and others use them as a starting point to frame a discussion around customers, which is my preferred way. Probably because of that bias, I’ve got some ideas of how to make the most out of them. Here they are:

Finally, if there is one bit of advice I could give regarding personas it’d be this: Don’t obsess over your personas. Obsesses over your customers.

(If you’re not familiar with personas, and want to get a good overview, I’m kind of a fan of Luxr’s method and they’ve got a good cheat sheet here.)

 
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