Love, Hate, and Empathy: Why We Still Need Personas
by Kyra Edeker, Jan Moorman
UX is a relatively nascent discipline: a boisterous, hopeful, opinionated, and insightful young adult who sometimes lacks perspective. Need evidence? Just yesterday personas were a UX designers’ BFF, but today? Well, not so much.
There’s been some gossip about how they are ‘fakes’ and really don’t help build empathy. Some have even called for their total abandonment. What’s behind this trajectory from love to hate? Is there hope for personas as real empathy builders?
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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)
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 ~ UXmatters.com)
“This is by far the nerdiest episode we ever did, so fasten your seat belts. In his session at UXcamp, Tom said: “Personas – love ‘em or hate ‘em – you can’t not use ‘em. Either you have zombies, or you have living ones.” In this recording of his session he talks about different kinds of zombies like Mirror Personas, Undead Personas, Unicorn Personas or Stupid User Personas. He gives advice on how to avoid these fellas and how to make good use of living personas during a project. As a bonus, Tom explains why 37signals doesn’t need personas at all.”