Optimism is defined as "The doctrine, asserted by Leibnitz, that this world is the best of all possible worlds." (American Heritage Dictionary (AHD))

Optimum, there, is defined as "The point at which the condition, degree, or amount of something is the most favorable."

Development of user personas as means to model interaction context, is becoming a common UXD practice. Indeed, relativity makes the 'best of all possible worlds', or 'The optimal UI for a particular application', a bit hard to define, unless context is established for user and interaction model.

But what is the difference between a persona and a stereotype?

A persona is contextual. AHD's definition: "The role that one assumes or displays in public or society; one's public image or personality, as distinguished from the inner self."

Stereotypes reflect a more rigid, non-contextual construct: "A conventional, formulaic, and oversimplified conception, opinion, or image." (AHD) One needs to be aware of the danger in mixing persona with stereotype, yet, be aware that good interaction is based on ease of learnability, often gained by consistency and reuse of interaction patterns.

So, a library of personas will make sense. But will the personas become stale and stereotypical?

First posted on: Thursday, August 24, 2006