Is it a fake? Not exactly! Personas are hypothetical archetypes or fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers or users.
A persona is your mental model of how a member of a group of people might think, feel, or behave.
Let’s take an example: Buyer personas
They help you to understand your customers (and prospective customers) better, and make it easier for you to tailor content to the specific needs, behaviors, and concerns of different groups.
The strongest buyer personas are based on market research as well as on insights you gather from your actual customer base (through surveys, interviews, etc.). Depending on your business, you could have as few as one or two personas, or as many as 10 or 20.
Why using personas?
1. Personas allow you to keep full focus on your users or customers in the design process.
2. Personas help you to 1) make hidden assumptions and biases bout your customers, and 2) make users explicit.
3. Personas make it easier for your brain to process data about customers.
Why does it work?
Personas work so well because they package a powerful representation of aspects of the world in a format that works well with the human mind. By personifying data you open it up to all the machinery in your brain that was developed for social interaction.
Personas can start to seem just a little too “real” or are abused easily by people to voice their own opinions as if they were the persona’s, especially when you first construct your personas!
Your persona is a mental model, not reality. Keep going back to validate your model with real data.