Are UX Personas always useful and why they confuse me.
Every week I seem to read some “stuff” online pertaining to best UX practices. While at my current gig they seem to be the holy grail of work for our UXer. All the while taking up lots of billable hours. Here’s my rub, I have honestly never used Personas to research or qualify a design ideal, as I usually have user research while constantly utilizing actual user/play testing in my short career so far.
I find it silly that personas are defined as “fictional users” based off user research. Meaning, I’m would be making up Users based off data I believe comprise their sum. What I have experienced is success without them and success or perceived success with them. So, I want to know — are personas made up crap so someone feels they are justifying a design ideal — for a stakeholder which I then wonder if design is out the window and making up data remains the goal? Or are they truly informing a design ideal and NOT an old-school (apologies for the poor term) extra step. Sometimes I feel they are an extra step — left over from some proclaimed design processes we had to learn in school.
Am I being naive? I’d love to hear you’re thoughts.
The other reason I constantly think of this is I’ve never used or heard of game designers using personas to create games. First, designers brainstorm and iterate — not too sure of who an audience is yet. Sooner or later you test the crap out of everything you can imagine from UI, to story, to flow, to pace, to QA, to art and style, to usability, to accessibility, etc. If anything, you have user research from the giant audiences of games throughout the industry and hopefully based off your own views and ituition of your potential players you want to design for your game. Based on who your audience is (say boys 9–12 for LEGO) they simply have play data that informs their ideas. Lots and lots of play data. They do not add this persona step — and I never have — and it’s successful.
Can we get rid of this idea that personas are a necessary design process step because I genuinely think it’s old school or not?
It’s always felt like a waste of time or at least as though there are ways to present user data that informs design without the “fictitious person who represents a segment of your user population?” Maybe there is a better or more efficient process than Personas. Or maybe it’s worth getting rid of altogether.