stereotype vs. persona vs archetype

17 Mar 2005 - 10:24am
1863 reads
Mike Baxter
2004

Dan >>creating personas, how similar were they to the
stereotype of the target user?
As we have seen from the preceding discussion, a stereotype is a
charicature - it emphasises extreme features (wears nothing but black) or
comic features (weird glasses). By contrast, an archetype is a
characterisation of typical, salient or defining features. What we as
designers want to identify is the archetypal features of our
users/customers. As far as I'm concerned there are dangers in wrapping this
up into a persona (I'm not a big fan!) because this can cloud a client's
perceptions of the most important features of the archetype (although I
accept the upside that it can bring an archetype to life).
As an example of using archetypes, I recently defined e-commerce shoppers as
trackers, hunters and explorers. Trackers know exactly what model they are
looking for and have come to a web site to 'track it down' and check
availability, price and delivery costs. Hunters know what category of
product they are looking for but may need help deciding upon a particular
model, whereas explorers may be looking for a gift or something to brighten
up the house. These archetypal behaviours provide insights into how
different people use e-commerce sites in different ways without getting into
Jane, Sally and John personas.
Anyone else prefer archetypes to personas or is it heresy to even suggest
such a thing :)

Mike

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