Stop making personas up! Use real people! People are personas. It wouldn’t be the “user experience” without the actual user now would it?

I recently graduated from an entrepreneurial program that taught us about personas, specifically about building a product. The key mistake that was made by our instructor was telling us to ‘create a persona’. So we spent the first few weeks reading talking to humans, actually talking to humans, making pitch-decks and putting what we learned to work by ‘creating personas’ for our product and making it look cool in a pitch-deck. The problem was that we created an average of all the humans we talked to, and consolidating that into what I will call a ‘creative persona’. It’s not real.

Don’t create a persona, populate it to represent a real person.

Dan Olsen from Lean Product Playbook says it best, “Don’t use averages of the collective data to populate a persona, you want your persona to represent a real person. If my neighborhood has 2.3 kids per household, there is not 1 family that has exactly 2.3 kids.”

  • Have a 1 on 1 interview with someone you know, or can meet that can tell you their story about working in the industry.

  • Listen closely to the problems, hiccups, or issues they have with the process, and ask them questions about how to make the day simpler, and best it can be!

  • Take what you learned from them, put their name and photo (or drawing of them – make it fun!) on a vision board and identify how you can use this information to form the MVP!

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Hydration is key

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