Although often touted as a design technique, personas are more accurately viewed as a data visualization option, similar to tables, charts, or graphs.
Personas were proposed to represent perceived users, customers, or audience members. In practice. personas are often used to represent current users, customers, or audience members.
Personas can be a valuable data visualization technique in both of these usages. As with any data visualization option, selecting whether or not to use personas to visualize your data depends on the task.
Here are some suggestions on using personas and other data visualization options.
- Personas – use personas for data visualization when you want to humanize the data, invoke empathy, need to communicate large amounts of data quickly, or want or present data in a memorable way, such as in presentations or displays
- Tables – use tables for data visualization when you want to highlight a direct relationship between two or more quantitative or qualitative variables
- Charts – use charts for data visualization when you want to graphically represent data comparisons, trends, relationships, distributions, or compositions, often categorical variables
- Graphs – use graphs for data visualization when you want to graphically represent continuous data plot data along two or more dimensions, often temporally
Personas are a valuable data visualization technique used appropriately for the correct goal.