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I was reading this article, Why Personas Are Critical For Content Strategy, and it occurred to me, alarm bells should be ringing if people mention their ‘target audience’.

As mentioned in the linked article, target audiences are often too vague and poorly defined to be of any use.  They’ve been simplified down to ridiculous levels, and there will be too many user groups who are left out.

Another article at UserFocus deals with how to spot fake personas.  If they’re not a user type that people can actually identify with, then they’re not going to be useful for the designers.

Fake personas can come about when you start attaching extra scenarios to someone who wouldn’t actually do that activity.  If that particular scenario doesn’t naturally fit a persona, then perhaps there is a missing persona, or this scenario doesn’t fit a business rule then the scenario needs to be challenged, and potentially dropped.

If persona definitions sit at the same level as business rules (and drive the key decisions around architecture and design), then it’s worth dropping the pre-defined target audiences, and validating a new set of personas.  Getting this wrong will lead to yet another IT failure.

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