If you don’t know much about Personas, or have your doubts about them, read this article and the comments thread over at Signal vs. Noise (the 37signals blog). Here’s an excerpt:
We don’t use personas. We use ourselves. I believe personas lead to a false sense of understanding at the deepest, most critical levels.[...]
I’ve never been a big believer in Personas. They’re artificial, abstract, and fictitious. I don’t think you can build a great product for a person that doesn’t exist.
As you’d expect, there was a bit of a backlash in the comments thread. It makes interesting reading, not because it gives 37signals a bashing, but because it clearly articulates some common misunderstandings of Personas, and explains how they are wrong, e.g.
- Personas are “baseless fictions” (Actually, they are the synthesis of your research findings)
- Personas are a replacement for user-research (Actually, they complement user research)
- Personas don’t get frustrated or express opinions (Ok, they don’t really exist, but they are used to simulate exactly this kind of user feedback to help making design decisions)