Embodied Personas

Melonçon, L. (2017). Embodied personas for a mobile world. Technical Communication, 64(1), 50-65.

Purpose: Personas have long been an important tool for technical communicators to use to understand audiences. However, a recent critique of personas questioned their usefulness as a tool for audience analysis. This article takes that question as the starting point to offer a re-conceptualization of persona creation.

Method: A comprehensive review of the literature with a case study as an extended example provides insights into the necessity of updating update how technical communicators create personas.

Results: The literature review exposes major gaps in the research about persona development that, when compared to the case study, shows the need for technical communicators to update the dimensions of how personas are created and to reclaim the emphasis on goals and purposes of the user’s practice.

Conclusion: Technical communicators need to re-conceptualize the creation of personas by incorporating additional dimensions that create embodied personas for a mobile world and that reclaim and refocus the persona’s emphasis on goals and purposes rather than simply a focus on audience. These changes allow technical communicators to meet the needs of users of complex information systems and, thereby, to contribute more meaningfully to user experience projects.