For this week’s inspiration, I read the “Designing for Pleasure” chapter of Alan Cooper’s book The Inmates are Running the Asylum. The section on Personas was most interesting to me. I kind of knew what personas are before this reading, but didn’t quite see the point of them. It turns out that they prevent the ‘elastic user’ phenomenon.
When designing software without personas, it’s very easy to say that the users want something different every day. One day, it’s the power user that needs some fancy feature, another day, it’s the non-proficient user that needs a simplified interface. Personas force the design team to focus on one primary user, and possibly one or two secondary users. When a feature is suggested, it can be compared against the goals of the primary user.