Over the years, we’ve watched the term “persona” achieve buzzword status. Monkey see, monkey do: some companies actually created personas. For all the hype, though, there are too many personas collecting dust in the “been there, done that” file.
Despite the buzz, personas are poorly understood. Not all personas have the same purpose. They can be used to develop user interfaces, plan marketing, model buyers, and so forth. But all bring abstract data to life to increase empathy. It’s much harder to do than it sounds, and it’s really simple to screw up. If you do personas right but don’t use them, they fail. And if you apply the wrong type of persona to an exercise, it will fail even if it was well-crafted.
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P.S. My daughter Hannah turns 6 today. Happy birthday, Hannah!