7

Ask DN: Do you use real people's photos for creating user personas? Or you go for illustration option?

over 4 years ago from , Chief Designer & Co-founder at Congruity Hub

For a while, I've been wondering how to create efficient user persona. Asking myself, if it needs to be super real info or let your imagination work a bit creating a certain type of personality.

So the question is: 'Are you using realistic images for your personas? If yes, what are pros/cons of this approach.'

'Or you use illustrations? Maybe, specifically created for the particular project like this one https://dribbble.com/shots/2722765-Freebie-Foodly-Avatars ? If yes, what are pros/cons of using them for you.'

Looking to your opinions on this matter. Thanks.

21 comments

  • Vanea Felox, 5 months ago

    Personally prefer illustrations, the new projects are packed with illustrations for https://absurd.design/

    Users can understand the sense in their way.

    8 points
  • Jay WycheJay Wyche, over 4 years ago

    I prefer real photos. I think they help people empathize with the persona more than an illustration.

    7 points
  • M. AppelmanM. Appelman, over 4 years ago

    Here are 2 great sites to utilize for persona photos:

    6 points
  • John Jackson, over 4 years ago

    Illustrated avatars are neat and as Roman said, they tend to be more fun and exciting. Actual photos, on the other hand, are obviously more realistic. I think it would depend on the project. I think it'd be OK to use either.

    6 points
    • Olia Gozha, over 4 years ago

      Thanks for your reply! Appreciate you joining this talk. Could you describe what project can be a good fit for photos and which one for illustrations for you?

      3 points
      • John Jackson, over 4 years ago

        If you're designing an app for a bank or professional institution, it might be best to use real photos. If you're designing for an entertainment website or anything related to gaming, I'd say that illustrations are fine. Those, of course, are just examples.

        4 points
  • Roman Datsyuk, over 4 years ago

    In my opinion, realistic images are better, but illustrations are more fun :)

    2 points
    • Olia Gozha, over 4 years ago

      Thanks for the reply. You're right illustrations definitely bring more fun into development process

      2 points
  • Eszter TothEszter Toth, over 4 years ago

    I prefer not to illustrate them, because they can look anyway. Persona is not about the look but the behaviour.

    1 point
  • Gaël PGaël P, over 4 years ago

    Illustrated avatars are for provisional persona, photo avatars are for the final persona (based on actual research with real people).

    or so I read in a book by some big-wig UXers (Cooper About Face maybe).

    1 point
  • Duncan RussellDuncan Russell, over 4 years ago

    Related question: why would you create a persona rather than interviewing real users or producing some kind of audience-group goal spreadsheet?

    Personas have always seemed to me like a less accurate way to do both.

    0 points
    • Gaël PGaël P, over 4 years ago

      Personas should be made from the interviews (or another research type). They're useful on a team to keep priorities on the right users.

      0 points
      • Duncan RussellDuncan Russell, over 4 years ago

        But they obfuscate everything about the "real" users they're based on. If I'm forwarded personas I can't separate real user feedback from their manufactured qualities.

        I also can't distinguish priorities in the same way I can with data (e.g. what percent of users preferred X over Y?), and I get suspicious not knowing the sample size of the research itself.

        In addition, they encourage designers to design for certain audience groups with one user in mind (e.g. Persona A is browsing on their mobile phone) – which gives a misleading picture of how real users are interacting with the site by oversimplification.

        0 points
        • Gaël PGaël P, over 4 years ago (edited over 4 years ago )

          well if you can't trust the people creating the personas that's another matter :-P

          Also personas shouldn't be about "audience groups" they should be about people at the extremes in your spectrum of users. If you design for the edge-cases others in between will be mostly fine. (i.e. novice-intermediate-expert, value hunter-busy impulsive). This is why having the right interviewees is more important than the sample size.

          0 points
  • Johan MichelsJohan Michels, over 4 years ago

    Pictures for sure. Illustrations don't empathize enough i'd say. Pro: you actually tie a face to your persona.

    Is there a reason why you can't use photos?

    0 points
    • Olia Gozha, over 4 years ago

      Sometimes, I'm not sure if those photos we chose for personas are the right ones to describe the user. Frankly speaking, an information we are gathering about average user behaviour is not quite concrete. It still has a fictional flare because of our assumptions and guesses. Still photos are very specific and descriptive when illustrations can match the need to represent those assumptions. What do you think? Have you thought about such issue?

      0 points
  • Vincent MillikenVincent Milliken, over 4 years ago

    Anyone got good resources on creating user personas?

    0 points