Personas, what are they good for?

Great article on Boxes and Arrows about personas.

Some key points:

“Personas are actually the designer’s focused act of empathetic imagination, grounded in first-hand user knowledge.”

“Personas, as documents, should work for designers the way scent works for memories of your childhood. 

“Personas aren’t ornaments that make us more comfortable about our design decisions. They should do just the opposite. 



  1. Cooper based his persona on a real person he’d actually met, talked with, and observed.
  2. Cooper didn’t start with a "method"—or especially not a "methodology"!
  3. The persona wasn’t a document. Rather, it was the activity of empathetic role-play.
  4. Cooper was doing this in his "spare time," away from the system, away from the cubicle.
  5. His persona gained clarity by focusing on a particular person—"Kathy".