An alternative approach to personas

Paul Boag

Personas are a great way to help visualise the people you are designing for. However, sometimes the traditional approach can be a bit overwhelming. Fortunately there is an alternative.

I am a visual person, so when I’m working on a site I find it incredibly useful to picture the person I’m designing for. That is where personas come in. They make the user real and that to me is invaluable.

That said, some personas can get a bit wordy for me. They go into so much depth about the persons likes and dislikes, their internet experience and family situation, that they loose their impact. They stop being an easy way to keep the user in the front of my mind.

That is why I fell in love with this alternative approach to personas. Instead of lots of text they consist of two images. One image of the person, and one image of a cross section of their possessions. It is amazing just how much a persons possessions say about them. It is enough to get a sense of who you are designing for.

Jackie Diptych

I am not suggesting these personas replace more detailed versions, as the additional information they provide is invaluable. However, these are a nice compliment and one I may well consider on my next project.

So what do you think? Would you use this approach? Does it tell you enough about the person?