Great discussion on Personas over at Signal vs. Noise

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)

> Read the Signal vs. Noise article