Pride and Prejudice and Personas

How “Pride and Prejudice” could have turned out with a little empathy and user personas

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”?—?Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

It is also a truth universally acknowledged by designers that unless you try to know or understand your users, you’re doomed to failure (or at least major setback). The whole idea behind user experience design is building products and services that meet the needs of the users, not just the creators. A fact that crossed my mind when watching the 2005 film adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice for the millionth time (only slightly exaggerating)….

What are user personas?

To understand why Mrs. Bennet could have benefited from user personas, lets look at exactly what they are.

User personas are fictional representations of the users we as designers are trying to engage with. It helps designers by seeing the users as actual people with real needs, traits, and desires. Much of the time, companies and product creators start to view users as numbers and data points. As Tom and David Kelley wrote in their book Creative Confidence, “When you specifically set out to empathize with your end user, you get your own ego out of the way”. Certainly you need to meet your company goals; but by putting your users first, you make reaching your goals infinitely easier. By visualizing your user base at the beginning of a project, you can get past bias and try to really engage with the needs of users.

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