I mentioned in my previous blog post that I was making a conscious effort to get out there and do things. Well, I did it. My first ever conference talk! [cue ribbons and balloons]

This weekend I gave a talk at UX Camp Brighton called, “Personas Suck” or, if we’re being professional about this: “Personas: why they’re dangerous, and how to fix them“. It’s a 20-minute exploration of the harm personas can cause – from stereotyping and lazy teams, to the total fallacy that is an ‘average person’ – and the practical changes we can make to mitigate this.

I have to admit, I signed up for the conference with absolutely no idea what I was going to talk about. The slots for speakers were only 20 minutes long and I figure, well, I can probably rant about any number of UX-y type things for 20 minutes. The challenges:

  • Keeping it down to 20 minutes
  • Actually providing a useful course of action to improve upon something

I actually have a backlog of things that I want to put into blog posts, so I figure this is a good place to start. I pick out six topics that I think might be good contenders, and outline a blog post for each. Looking at these outlines, I decide that the best one to go with is about the issues I have with creating and using UX personas – especially because I’d read Sara Wachter-Boettcher’s book Technically Wrong recently (which although I didn’t think it was perfect, did make some extremely valid points about generalisation of users and the dangers of lumping everyone together in too-perfect scenarios).

As expected, the first half of the talk – essentially a rant about what I don’t like/don’t think works when creating and using UX personas – was quite easy to put together. The challenge of course is coming up with some practical solutions! I’ve put a decent amount of thought into what I believe is a better way to design for real people; I realised that what I actually end up doing later on my projects anyway was probably the right solution. You’ll see what I mean if you take a look at the below.

Anyway, I tried to film the session but only got the first few minutes thanks to a dodgy SD card (d’oh), but I’ve re-recorded the presentation at home and also attached the slides with notes for those that (a) don’t like watching videos or (b) watched a bit and realised they can’t stand the sound of me. Please enjoy, share if you like, and feel free to reply to this post with your thoughts and ideas. Cheers!