Personas should communicate insights generated through user research. If they contain information not uncovered through research, that information should be treated as an assumption and subject to research and evaluation.
Teams often create proto-personas as a proxy for persona research; these should be approached with caution, as the fact that they are based on assumptions or guesswork may get lost in transmission, or overlooked when design work begins in earnest.
Personas in general are a form of narrative. This means that they must be approached carefully, as narratives produced real-world effects.
- Focus personas on tasks, goals, and motivations
- Personas document shared understanding about users
- Personas may create space for assumptions
- Personas lack rich context
- People fill information gaps with assumptions
- User personas communicate research about users
Harley, Aurora. “Personas Make Users Memorable for Product Team Members.” Nielsen Norman Group (blog). Accessed October 10, 2020. https://www.nngroup.com/articles/persona/.
Laubheimer, Page. “3 Persona Types: Lightweight, Qualitative, and Statistical.” Nielsen Norman Group (blog). Accessed October 12, 2020. https://www.nngroup.com/articles/persona-types/.