Let’s go ahead and get this out of the way; personas can be polarizing, attracting praise and condemnation. That’s not really a surprise considering they have been around for a while and vary wildly in creation and usage.
When everything goes well, personas can helpfully remind product teams of their audiences and needs and even blend into other artifacts. For many projects, however, personas aren’t the right choice and don’t work.
This reminds me of the ever-raging nerd war over the oxford comma. Some people swear by it. Some people “don’t give a f*ck about it”. Both sides have valid points and counterpoints, and, on occasion, its usage has real-world consequences. Ultimately, though, each sentence is different, and it falls on the writer to ensure that the correct meaning and purpose are conveyed.
Similarly, creating personas (or any design artifact, really) should be a purposeful act, with a specific use and end goal in mind. Personas, just like the oxford comma, are a tool to create clarification, and any tool can be used well or poorly.
- The Inmates Are Running the Asylum by Alan Cooper
Alan Cooper created personas, and, while they are really only mentioned in one chapter in this book, it’s definitely worth learning about the context of their genesis.
- A Closer Look At Personas: What They Are And How They Work by Mo Goltz
A thorough look at personas, including history, purpose, creation process, and effectiveness.
- Rediscovering the design personas the Guardian used nearly a decade ago by
A look back at some found personas that were made over 10 years ago for The Guardian
- 3 Reasons to Start Designing with Personas by Marcin Treder
Overview of why to use personas — doubles as talking points if you are trying to describe or sell the concept to someone.
- A Closer Look At Personas: A Guide To Developing The Right Ones by Mo Goltz
A step-by-step guide of creating personas, starting at identifying your users through sharing out your final product.
- DIY User Personas by UX Lady
How to make a persona in 3 parts: building and collecting information, layout, and elements.
- Personas misconceptions by Peter Zalman
Personas can go wrong — here are 4 common traps to avoid!
- Describing Personas by Indi Young
Don’t lean heavily on demographics and generality — use specific context instead of over-representing a person
- Predictive personas by InVision
Personas may not always take in account the type of people who will become a user of your product — make sure yours do by making them predictive.
- Bringing Together Personas, Jobs To Be Done, and Customer Journey Maps by Shahrzad Samadzadeh
Personas can often have a gap of knowledge between a an action that occurred and why a person chose to do that action. Perhaps try combining your personas with other artifact to create a more comprehensive story.
- Replacing Personas With Characters by Alan Klement
Sometimes you need to take what works about personas and repurpose it into a different type of artifact.
- Personas didn’t work at Automatic. Design principles did. by Ljuba Miljkovic
But what if personas aren’t right for you? What then? Here’s a great case study of a design team relying on solid design principles instead.
- Persona Non Grata by Steve Portigal
Personas can easily be misused — should they be abandoned? Be sure to read this article and keep it in mind when deciding whether to create personas.