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I am looking to write up a review of the use of personas in the UX field and would like to use an example persona for reference/critique, but I'm concerned that whichever one I choose would be simply written off as a lousy persona itself and thus undermine the position I'm taking on personas in general.

Are there any examples of personas that are created in keeping with commonly-accepted industry standards or practices that I can reference?

I'm not suggesting there's necessarily an unassailable "gold standard" example out there or that there's even a universal criteria for what makes a quality persona, but I'd like to avoid the "straw man" rebuttal if possible (and see an example of personas done "right" either way!).

Could anyone point me to an example of a particularly well-designed persona?

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I think the best persona out there is the one that puts you in the shoes of a real user group. Also, related question: ux.stackexchange.com/questions/3264/… –  Andrew Shipe May 2 '12 at 20:48

3 Answers 3

The Fluid Project Wiki is a good resource for personas. They seem to have captured the persona examples I most commonly come across and discuss the pros and cons of each.

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Yes. Aaron Walter (Designing For Emotion) references Todd Zaki Warfel and the personas he designed at MessageFirst, and also describes his own: Freddy - the MailChimp persona in Chapter 3 of his book. This Chapter can also be found on A List Apart and includes a picture of MessageFirst's updated persona design.

Related info: Todd covers personas well in his data driven design research but that's from 2007


I'd like to just add a note to readers generally on the topic of personas, that it doesn't matter if you have the best designed persona in the world, if it doesn't get used. You're writing a review on the use of personas. Key word there is use. In order for a persona to be effective, it helps to change the word user in your working environment for the name of your persona. Say he's called Bob. Bob is real. Bob needs to be kept alive. Ask if this design works for Bob, would Bob use this. Give bob emotions and empathy. Put pictures of Bob and his persona up on the wall so every stakeholder knows who Bob is. Stick a picture of him on the back of the bathroom door. Don't Let Bob Die.

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Long live Bob! Also, great resources. –  GotDibbs May 3 '12 at 12:19
    
I must add that the MailChimp persona is not a classic user persona, but rather a "product" persona, aimed to describe the product's personality rather than its users. –  Yosef Waysman Sep 1 at 17:48

A persona needs to be personal to the software you are using it for. Joe the Plumber may be a great persona for your small business software, but would not work great when trying to create a persona for github's usability.

Personas are specific to the project; if they aren't, then you are not creating them properly. A persona needs to be a user that makes sense, and have limitations and quirks that fit well with the users you are designing your product for. Every new product should have new personas. Now, you might recycle a persona that you like, and change a few things to fit the new product. But this is really just a new persona that happens to inherit some things from the previous one.

There is no best persona. There is only the personas that fit great with your product.

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Thanks, but I'm not asking for a definitive description of an audience segment (a la Joe the Plumber). I'm asking if there are any particularly highly-regarded examples of personas out there that would stand up to critique from a craftsmanship perspective. –  Samuel Hulick May 2 '12 at 20:56

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