Personas: how to fool yourself 101

Photo by davide ragusa on Unsplash

I voluntarily focused on the worst aspects of persona in this writing, of course I am aware that they can be useful when used correctly and great when designing for specific products, you can find the second part here:

Personas have been theorized in the first place by Alan Cooper in 1999, since it has been a notion used by several fields which include design field. Almost every designer uses or used personas whatever is his job sector.

A persona, in user-centered design and marketing is a fictional character created to represent a user type that might use a site, brand, or product in a similar way.

There are five different personalities, screw unalike people.

Having a personality resume of your users is priceless while designing and solving something for them, no doubt about that, but in some ways it can facilitate too much of the designer’s work and even make him slip in an unconscious error.

Indeed, if you rest yourself on two up to five different personality (in average) you will fool yourself, it will bring delusional self-confidence because you nailed it at satisfying those few personalities but in reality you will be deliberately forgetting a lot of people.

I am aware that personas try to emphasize the most different personalities as it can so you have a huge panel because other personalities will be just nuances of the ones you selected.
But that is not how it works, no, there is no 5 alpha personalities and 43573572 beta personalities which are just nuances.
Each person is different, there is similitude obviously, but it is not that common as persona users believe, if you truly think that you are stereotyping a huge bunch of people.

For example, let’s picture the persona of a woman in her 20s who listens pop music, who loves tv show, cinema and photography, with an overcharged life (…), she has a specific personality as captured correctly by her persona it is great if we stop now, but sadly we don’t in most cases, in most cases the designer will wrongly think that another woman with similar tastes and hobbies can have the same expectations and needs toward a product, whatever it is. However, these two women have both different expectations and utilization in a product, it’s not because you find similarities that do mean they are the same, you can’t work that way, if you do you are hiding behind biased persona.

Persona caused trouble to the videogames industry, because back then game designer made games for a stereotype of teenager white boy, it’s still the case in few AAA games but the trend is thankfully changing these last years.

You are not emphasizing even 1% of a person’s needs with persona, 100 words, 5 favorite brands, 3 character traits are not enough, you need a whole book for that, people are complex.

It is hard to understand someone’s expectations with a simple sheet, so why not just skip on it and simply remind that you are designing for people and not stereotyped profiles ?
Today the world can be extremely complex, designing for some profiles can’t be a durable solution, designers have to understand that beside of being people their users have emotional needs.

Darwin said that humans have a universal way to communicate, it is through emotions. So try to talk this language to your users, this is what unite us, be honest in your design and naturally he will speak to everyone without any need of persona.
Instead of considering your users as personas you should consider your product as a persona, try to personify it, find how your product should communicate and your users will naturally commit emotionally with it.


My english is far from perfection, you are very likely to find some mistakes or syntax errors, do not hesitate to tell me what I did wrong.

Massive thanks for reading and if you enjoyed it, please recommend it !

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.