Why design for only one persona
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Why design only for one persona?
Imagine joining a new team whether as a consultant, contractor, or new employee. Upon auditing the progress the team made previously you notice 8 or more personas associated with any given project. Although, a human’s cognitive load is said to max out at about 7, we’re more likely to remember the first and the last items in a list. So, how could we possibly design for all 8 personas at once? The answer is we can’t.
Projects that have this many personas associated with it could on one hand be a multi-faceted wicked problem, yet more often than not they’re typically stereotypes from social science the team has cobbled together in the spirit of inclusivity. I say spirit of inclusivity, because this has the inadvertent affect of pandering rather than catering.
The solution to this dilemma of overwhelming projects with so many personas from a variety of races, genders, personalities, age, or ability is to focus instead on one persona in which is a synthesis. In this case, we’ll formulate a main character of a story that has the most traumatic experience. This way the other personas are catered to by default. In order to do so, we’ll have to find the shared pattern of behavior and problem, rather than focusing on wavering differences of subjectivity.
By focusing on behaviors associated with a single problem we can find a barrier to achieving a goal that is shared across multiple people (not persona) and therein distill multiple people into a single persona.
This method harkens back to Hollywood “based on a true story.” When creating a drama, the director will design a compelling story based on the facts and evidence. Writers do this too. In this way they have a single character that may engage the audience. This is similar to Aristotle’s ethos. Argument of character. Rather than attempting to design for 8 personas at once akin to Marvel’s Avengers. We instead focus on developing the individual character whom experiences the most traumatic event in his or her life, because if they can do it anyone can thereafter. This is also known as “accessibility design.”
In culmination, upon joining a team, audit the personas. If they’re different in behavior that should be because they serve different roles as key players in the business model, NOT because of race, gender, personality, age, or capability. Instead focus on synthesis, similarity amongst the various target personas for your primary persona, and feel the weight lifted off your shoulders as you can empathize, and become said persona in a role playing research. Welcome to UX Zen.