While reconnecting with my colleague Jan Moorman, now a UX researcher at Walmart eCommerce, I found an article she and another practitioner wrote about personas. The main points definitely bear repeating:
- Half-baked and research-free personas can do more harm than good.
- To be truly useful, personas should be based on actual research and should focus on “goals, motivations, and expectations.”
- Ground your personas with (relevant) details from real users.
- Evangalize your personas.
Regarding points 2 and 3: I’ve always felt that personas containing extraneous personal detail (“Dale is a yoga practitioner who likes skeet shooting and extreme chess and dotes on his 3 bichon frise puppies”) can actually be off-putting instead of empathy-generating. And I’ve also strived to annotate my personas with user profiles to connect them to the raw data. So I was pleased to see them advocating for this as well.
As far as evangelizing personas…well, you’re reading the blog of a guy whose UX team at a former company laminated their user personas and distributed them to the executive team. So yeah.