Personas is one of the most commonly used design tools. In the 90’s personas gained a lot of popularity in India with companies like HP using it to define and identify their customer profiles.
Personas work when they are part of the creative process. It allows designers to put themselves in the shoes of the people they are designing for; imagine what that particular type of person would do, what would he/she like, value, share etc.
However, personas fail when there is little or no data to back these profiles. While SME’s and large businesses often don’t have customer segmentation data, this holds true for several enterprise and corporations who either have vast amounts of data that they haven’t sorted and have no comprehensible view of this information.
Personas backed without data, though not entirely invaluable are still imaginary and ‘fluffy’. The second issue with personas is that they need to be constantly updated, especially personas across various channels. Most organisations don’t invest in developing these personas.
Why is that?
There could be several reasons for this- budget, changing priorities etc. However, the fundamental reason why personas are not regularly updated is because they fail to show value in a way that help drive a project be it design or marketing. The motivation to regularly update them is low.
A lot of organisations are now using personas to market their products, to tell their story, to engage their customers. Personas allow companies to see and understand their users in a manner that initiates conversation, discussion and thought and eventually ‘great to have posters’ on the wall for all employees to see.
However, design processes are far more strategic, measured and data driven than ever before and personas don’t effectively lend to developing solutions that facilitate this.
Do you have any good examples of personas (not data backed) that have been been embedded within the strategic processes of an organisation?