Why fewer details in personas improve outcomes like clarity and alignment

illustration of sculptors holding chisels and a partial bust emerging out of a granite block
illustration of sculptors holding chisels and a partial bust emerging out of a granite block
Illustration by Emily Loughran

Summary: Minimalist personas are brief, evidence-based character sketches that are specific, concise and based on psychographic user variables. They are used to simplify and highlight critical information about target users, leading to clearer communication, better design prioritization and more alignment among stakeholders. I provide 3 case studies and 8 ways to design minimalist personas so they are more believable, generalizable, compelling and resistant to stereotyping.

Personas have long been a controversial topic in User Experience (UX). …


Today I celebrate my fifth anniversary as a breast cancer survivor. On this day in 2010, after several tear-filled weeks of painful testing, a phone call exploded my new status all over my existence. I was 40 years old, married, with a 4 year old son and 2 year old daughter, living a fairly typical life: working at a job that I didn’t like, following a schedule that overwhelmed me, plodding along, day after day. I had yawned into the exhausting complacence of early motherhood.

In the five years since my diagnosis, I’ve profoundly changed, almost completely for the better…

Melanie Polkosky, PhD

I’m a certified professional coach, UX psychologist, author of Uncovering Truffles. I’m happiest with a good book or spreadsheet of data to analyze.

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