Points of view

Why personas fail

Call To You — Jun 2021

Personas are useful tools for UX work, so why do they often fail? Find out what pitfalls cause personas to fail, and how to avoid and overcome them.

Why Personas Fail

Personas are fictional representations and generalizations of a cluster of your target users who exhibit similar attitudes, goals, and behaviors in relation to your product. They’re human-like snapshots of relevant and meaningful commonalities in your customer groups and are based on user research.

Because they’re abstract, personas have been misunderstood and misused over the years.  They get created and they often fail for a number of reasons. So often UX practitioners come to my class after a bad experience with personas, looking for answers: what went wrong and how can they do better next time?

In this article, you will find  the most common pitfalls that cause personas to fail and provide strategies for future success.

  1. Personas were created, but not used;
  2. No buy-in from leadership;
  3. Personas were created in a silo and imposed on people;
  4. Communication failure:  People don’t know what personas are or why they’re useful;
  5. There’s a fundamental flaw with the personas.

If you’ve had a failed persona experience at your organization, maybe the reason is one of the common pitfalls listed above. Identify where you went wrong and right the ship. If you’re looking to create personas for the first time, use these pitfalls as a checklist to avoid and address these challenges as you go.

Put together an action plan, pitch personas to leadership, analyze prior failures and address corresponding solutions, and communicate the business value of personas to build buy-in. Educate your colleagues, refer to personas in meetings, and solidify their place on your projects. Circle back and show off the wins you gained by having specific user representations to work with.

If you can avoid these common pitfalls, you will have a successful persona effort from the start, you will convince the naysayers.

Read the full article, here.​​​​