Many a time a Persona is created & relegated to the “fairy tale documents” project archive and laid to rest till it crumbles to the nothingness of digital dust. Usually the focus is more about cats and dogs that the persona has, what his or her children do and how much he would like to improve his or her sad life.
A persona should really be used to create empathy about the needs of the actual user of the system. It is a mind set change that is required from all the stakeholders of your project/product. Only when the team/stakeholder's start talking in terms of what “Jill’s” really needs, tasks, and goals are, would your persona make an actual difference.
Ive often noticed this about the "good/apt persona's that we develop:
- In due course of our discussions with the business folks we find that asking questions on behalf of the persona lead's to a design decision that created a complete paradigm shift in our solution.
- We come up with solution's that address hitherto neglected business areas and reduces many a redundant step that poor users would otherwise have had to do
- The focus is really on What is really critical, the user experience Goal
Moral of the story: The next time you are describing how Nadia really loves her dog’s fur and really hates how the dog craps all over the new hardwood floor that she installed, think what needs to be really articulated to make an informed design decision.
Of course, this post is not valid if you are designing a site for pet dogs.