Tomorrow I'll start a new UX designer job, and the designer before me there made personas, but its are just prototypes. She said me that I should verify if its are well done. They didn't create this personas after user researches but in a workshop with product owners and the designer.

I don't want to restart the process with new personas because it could be very confusing for the team. But I think creating personas between PO and designer only, without researches and without any developer or marketing team member point of view is a risk.

It' s a risk because this personas are made from assumptions only, so it's not 100% reliable. It's also a risk because if developers and marketing didn't participate to the personas creation it will be harder to make them feeling empathy for the users.

So I'd like to know how you would do to verify if this personas are well done and how I could make ALL the team feeling empathy for them.

Thank you.

  • 2
    Congrats for new job! If you really want to be great uxer, get out from the desk, meet people. I repeat meet and talk with people. By the way, personas are not enough to make empathy, storytelling must follow consecutively. You know every stories are creators of empathy.
    – Jivan
    Dec 1, 2015 at 12:01

5 Answers 5


It looks like you might have to go back to the beginning and look at them all over again, especially if it's not taking into the users but best guesses from internal staff. I wouldn't worry about it freaking out the team as much as letting them know you have concerns that they aren't based on the user base you're designing for. One of the major concerns is that the internal staff always thinks they know exactly how the user is going to react and then the real user does something they didn't anticipate. You could easily sell this to them as "we need to orient around the users and not best guesses of what the user would do." It shouldn't cause alarm. If anything, I would think it would make you look good in that they asked you to review them and your first instinct is that they could be off since they aren't oriented around the user base.


I think good personas should be coherent with at least some of reported (through support & customer success) use-cases, so if the personas your colleagues have created do not show this alignment with the reality, then maybe they are not so functional as a model of the users pool. That alone would be a good reason for me to ignite the verification process.

One of the most obvious ways to help the whole team invest into the personas would be to have them participate in another workshop on the personas. Perhaps, during the workshop the rest of the team will also check the common pitfalls and tweak the personas so that they are more realistic for them (and thus for all parts of the product). But workshops can be time-consuming.

In one of the biggest presentation startups office there are macro emotional illustrated mood boards for personas on the walls in the common space, and I think it's a good way to broadcast the emotional content of the personas to the whole team.

Another way would be to create a set of stickers with cartoonish icons of personas and stick them around the office to induce rapport.


If the personas weren't made with actual user research, they are simply bullshit personas, to steal a term used by a former colleague of mine. She did a presentation at SXSW with a researcher from Bolt Peters about commonly-made fake personas, and the right way to approach creating personas that you and your company will actually use.

You can listen here and follow the slides here.

I hope it's helpful in making real personas.


So I'd like to know how you would do to verify if this personas are well done

When I'm faced with this situation I try a couple of things.

1) Make a prediction about customer behaviour, based on the persona, and see if it comes true. If the persona is accurate then you should be able to (for example) easily recruit folk who match it for a usability test, be able to predict how folk will react to a quick prototype, etc. The results of those predictions give everybody some evidence on how much they can trust the persona. You might find this piece from Laura Klein of interest.

2) Have a conversation about where the info has come from, and how trustworthy it is. I have an exercise where I do this by breaking down each of the "facts" on the persona and putting one on a post it note. Then putting them on a scale from "made up" to "true" like this. Use this to drive a conversation about doing research to find supporting evidence for the made up stuff.

how I could make ALL the team feeling empathy for them.

Use them. Daily. Use them to make decisions about prioritising features. Use them to discuss the pros and cons of different workflows. Use them to help figure out why that last feature didn't end up being used.

Teams use persona when they're useful.


I would try to understand where these personas come from: You say it was non-reliable data - but which part of it? I'd state the assumption: They are done wrong. To proof that I'm wrong shows that the personas are usable, so I would dig into several fields:

  • Is there analytics data that proves that the personas represent a majority of your customers?
  • Are there qualitative interview reports that prove the correctness of the personas?

If one answer is "No", you know what you can do to complete them. If BOTH of them are "No" you most likely will find counter-arguments for the current personas. If this is the case, create new ones. If you can find data that proves the current personas, keep them.

You may want to research for the usage of personas - since they are highly discussed. Are you sure, now that you know that they might have been done poorly, that they are used for the right purpose?

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