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I have used personas a lot in the design of various products, including IBM Sametime and Lotus Notes. I publicly blogged the draft personas and asked for feedback from the users themselves.

The users (including business partners and resellers) got to "know" the personas and it made the design process more personable. Have others of you gone public with your personas? Is it a good idea? Why or why not?

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Welcome to UX.SE! I edited your question to be more about "what's best" than personal opinion; our Q&A format works best when asking for expertise rather than opinion. –  Ben Brocka Mar 29 '12 at 15:22
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I have created personas as a Product Manager (i.e. discovering and prioritizing problems to solve) but not for UX design, however I think the below still applies. This is also for a B2B product, not consumer. The below is based on experience, your mileage may vary.

There are different levels of 'public':

  • Sharing with the users I researched - I did this on my last project, opinions ranged from strong agreement ('These are great, Dave is totally this one!') to mildly insulted (that we had generalized their job). I did get one piece of useful feedback that ended up contributing to the design (that I should include preference for keyboard shortcuts). I would say this was worth it as it helped confirm the research and also added some more detail.
  • Sharing with potential customers - a senior sales guy saw the user personas and asked me if he could send them to a potential customer to add credibility to our product design. I was torn here - part of me was really happy he was engaging with the process and wanted to encourage him, another part was worried the customer could use them to build substitute tools (internal substitute systems are one of our biggest 'competitors'). In the end we constructed some 'lite' versions that included enough about the person so as to make clear we had done research, but not including the actual problems we were tackling. I have not yet had feedback.
  • Sharing with the public in general - e.g. publishing on our site or a blog post - I would not consider this for any personas I had written. There is a lot of IP in these documents and even though IMO most of the value is in the research, not the actual document (i.e. to create a persona I need to really understand my user / buyer), this would definitely give any competitor or start-up a leg up on the market.
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