Personas in the Design Process: A tool for understanding others
Williams, Karen Lindsay
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Personas, fictional user profiles based on research data, have gained popularity in the design field over recent years. These profiles include names, personalities, behaviors, and goals that are representative of a unique group of individuals. This paper examines the creation and utilization of personas as a tool for understanding others, specifically within the context of product design. A review of current literature revealed published methods for creating and using personas, along with the challenges and benefits associated with this tool. Current design industry practices were investigated through 15 semi-structured interviews with design professionals. Topics included persona creation and implementation, the tools use, and perceived outcomes from the inclusion of personas in the design process. Participatory research examined persona creation methods including user data collection and the selection of topics to be included in these profiles. Additionally, persona utilization was investigated through the tools integration into a 12-week Industrial Design student project. Observations and interviews with 8 student groups and instructors revealed the tools impact on the design process and potential within the educational environment, with specific attention being paid to universal design applications.