Research projecton the value of personas: any theories/questions?

Hi folks.

I’m starting a research project for my MSc in UX Design, which will consider the value and function of personas in the UX design process. Does anyone have any burning theories or questions that you think I should consider/investigate?

I’ll also be looking at complementary or competing approaches, such as Jobs To Be Done.

I’m also very happy to be simply pointed to sources of interesting debate or theories.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts!


HI Lorna,
Interesting stuff.

Here are a couple of articles that I’ve come across in more recent times when I’ve been on a hunt for social media fodder. They both dispute the use of personas.

Thanks Hawk, those look interesting, I’ll have a read!

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Hi Lorna,
I’m a huge exponent of personas and have found them invaluable in focusing the work I do for clients. As an empath it helps if I can feel the challenges that my user is feeling.
On the plus side I use them in earnest and I have worked with organisations that have also used them in earnest. I worked on a project a while ago and they had their personas on the wall and would ‘include’ them in conversations around approach. It was quite novel.
On the flip side what I see most of though is that they are stuffed in a drawer and never referred to again. I would love to understand what we can do to help organisations adopt and consider their personas.
And finally the downside that I see in personas is it assumes that people behave the same way in the every situation, which as you know is never the case when working with humans.
How could we add nuance to our personas? My challenge for you.
I would love to know what you discover.

Hi Libby,

Thanks for offering your perspective, that’s really interesting.

You also raise an interesting challenge! Do you think that adding nuance to personas might increase the difficulty of applying them within our design work? Is the purpose of the persona to represent “typical” users’ behaviour, and therefore adding nuance would be a contradiction?

I’ll definitely be keeping the nuances angle in mind while I’m reading and carrying out research.

I will be working with a case-study organisation who have a set of personas they don’t use, so the question of how to help them adopt and consider personas is definitely one I can start to explore.

Thanks again,


Hey Lorna,
I think typical behaviour is still what makes personas so useful. We know that humans are changeable and as you say you will have that in mind with designing so that’s the best approach.
I’ll be interested to hear how it goes.