Personas Considered Harmful

by Nick de Voil 3. March 2010 11:37

Personas are one of the staples of current UX practice. Although they are useful in some ways, I've always felt uncomfortable with them and have put some of my objections into this paper. What do you think?

Since writing the paper, I've come across another recent one by Adrienne Massanari which expresses similar ideas. She presents her argument as an application of discourse analysis, which I find very interesting. She says, "IA discourse continues to reinscribe many of the tropes traditionally associated with user-centered and systems-centered design, both of which implicitly marginalize the individuals interacting with technological devices".

Massanari's focus on the discourse of UX (and IA) is helpful. It's the discourse that I object to, rather than the technique itself. I would say the same thing about Agile and Object Orientation - the ideas are great, but some of the things people say about them, and the claims they make for them, are unhelpful.  I referred to this in my talks to the IIBA at their conference and London meeting back in the autumn, where I also made the same distinction between User-Centred Design and Participatory Design that Massanari emphasises in her paper.