So I'm a little confused between these 4 types of personas I've discovered in books and articles.
- Ad hoc Persona
- Data-driven Persona
- Lean Persona
What are the differences between them?
Thank you in advance,
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I agree that all the different names are confusing! The good news is that there are basically only 2 types of persona:
The difference is to do with how the personas are created.
In an ideal world, you start with a blank sheet of paper, make no assumptions, and conduct extensive user research. You talk to lots of real-world users, then use the data that you collect from that research to construct your personas. This is the data-driven approach and it's how personas should - ideally - be created.
The problem is that many organisations don't have the time, budget or desire to do this kind of research. Rather than stall the UX process or have no personas at all, you can use a different approach, which is where proto or ad hoc personas come in. The process of creating this type of persona is described in detail in the book Lean UX by Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden, so they're sometimes called lean personas.
These personas are normally created not by doing user research, but by collecting information from inside the organisation. For example, you hold a workshop with various stakeholders and ask them to describe their customers. Based on their input, you then create some 'rough' personas.
The critical thing about these rough personas is that they are not research led and therefore contain assumptions that may or may not be accurate. They can be a very useful tool, but should always be treated with caution and verified by research. Often a good approach is to start with some proto-personas to get the design process rolling and get stakeholder buy-in, then conduct research over time to test whether they're accurate and refine them as you go.
I don't think there is an exact definition, but each of the instances or types you mentioned (keeping in mind that they come from different combinations of sources) relate to some characteristic or property of a persona, so let's deal with that first.
Definition of a Persona - from NNg website:
A persona is a fictional, yet realistic, description of a typical or target user of the product. A persona is an archetype instead of an actual living human, but personas should be described as if they were real people.
So then we can explain each of the following based on that definition:
Hope that helps.