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Why do personas fail?

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Feb 15th, 2024. 10 mins read

Why do Personas Fail?

We’ve had numerous conversations about the role of personas in the world of user-centered design. It's quite common to hear folks label them as just "fluff" in the design and development process. But hey, let's not dismiss them so quickly!

The heart of the issue lies in a legitimate concern: the valuable user insights gathered to create these personas can sometimes get lost in the shuffle. It's like having a treasure chest but forgetting the key to open it!

The problem isn't that personas lack substance; it's more about their underutilization. All those "aha" moments when we truly understand our users can end up fading away because, let's face it, we don't revisit these personas often enough. 

So, instead of dismissing personas, let's reimagine them as hidden gems that can supercharge our design and development teams. 

In this journey, we're going to explore why traditional personas can sometimes fall short and uncover how they can transform from being seen as "fluff" into an unmined valuable resource. Here we go!

 

Five Limitations of Traditional Personas

1. Text Heavy

2. Complex in Creation

3. Lack of Attribute Intensity

4. Isolated Data

5. Time-Consuming Endeavor

 

Let’s dig into each limitation further:

 

1. Text Heavy: The Challenge of Traditional Persona Documents

Text Heavy Personas

Imagine you've just wrapped up some intense user research sessions before creating personas – insightful, right? You're buzzing with user stories and insights, and naturally, you want to capture every bit of it. So, what do you do? 

You start crafting personas, but the excitement takes over, and before you know it, you've got a tome of text-heavy documents that rival a novel.

Now, here's the kicker: in today's world, nobody has got time for that! People are swamped with information and have shorter attention spans than ever. These documents then only seem complex as ever, making it challenging for teams to extract actionable insights efficiently. 

What if we say that with a potent tool, you can change your UX game? Stay tuned until the end, you’ll find out what we’re talking about. 😉

 

2. Complex in Creation: The Resource-Intensive Nature

Complex in Creation

Creating personas the traditional style can be a demanding and resource-intensive task. You find yourself grappling with the complexities of translating raw data into well-defined user profiles. 

Persona documents often include detailed narratives, user stories, and descriptions that capture the essence of your users. It's like assembling a puzzle where every piece represents a user characteristic or behavior, and getting the puzzle just right requires careful attention to detail.

Designing and formatting user persona documents to be visually appealing and easily digestible can be an effort consuming process. It's like sculpting a statue from a block of marble – a process that demands patience, precision, and a keen eye for detail.

 

3. Attribute Intensity: A Missing Dimension in Personas

Missing Attribute Intensity

You see, traditional personas do a decent job describing user attributes, but they often fall short in capturing the intensity or importance of these attributes. 

To understand, let's consider a scenario where a persona mentions that a user values eco-friendliness in products. It's an essential insight, but what's missing is whether this attribute is a driving force behind their decisions or a mere afterthought. 

This absence of attribute intensity can be like trying to navigate a maze blindfolded – you might make progress, but you're likely to take wrong turns.

 

4. Isolated Data: The Collaboration Challenge

Isolated Data

Personas created in the traditional way are generally confined to standalone documents and  tend to overlook the crucial element of collaboration. When user insights, obtained through essential data sources for creating effective personas, are isolated within these documents, they remain detached from the broader design and development process. 

The consequences of this isolation are multifaceted. First, it leads to fragmented decision-making, as team members may lack a unified understanding of user needs. Imagine a ship with a divided crew, each navigating by their own map – it's a formula for misalignment.

Moreover, traditional personas often miss the boat on seizing opportunities for holistic user-centered design. They are static, one-way communication tools that do not facilitate real-time interactions or feedback loops. It's like sending a message in a bottle and hoping for a response.

 

5. Time-Consuming Endeavor: The Drawback of Traditional Persona Development

Time Consuming Endeavour

The process of creating, updating, and maintaining traditional personas can be time-consuming. This can pose challenges in fast-paced industries where design and development teams need to quickly adapt to changing user needs and market dynamics.

Furthermore, refining personas often involves iterative rounds of feedback to accurately capture the diverse needs of different user segments. Assembling these demands meticulous attention to detail and a significant investment of time and resources.

 

The Solution?

In a world driven by rapid innovation and evolving user needs, the limitations of traditional personas have become evident. They call for a more modern and effective approach to user-centered design, one that doesn't just keep pace with change but embraces it. 

The BuildUX Persona Mapper emerges as the solution that provides the competitive edge.

With its rich attribute library, effortless attribute mapping, real-time collaboration, and time-saving features, the Persona Mapper reshapes how personas are created and utilized. It's a tool that not only acknowledges the evolving demands of UX professionals but also propels them forward.

It’s time to level up the way you create user personas! Check out our Persona Mapper now and start creating effortless and nuanced personas.

Join BuildUX, the world’s first Persona Mapper!

BuildUX is in its final stages to launch internationally. Join the Beta community.