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Non-human and non-user personas to protect the people, animals, and environments impacted by our designs

Non-human Environment Persona Template

Non-human personas

Based on classic user personas, non-human personas are fictional characters used to represent the stakeholders we usually ignore-the environment indirectly impacted by the product and its production.

Anthropologist and environment-centred design advocate Monika Snezl cautions us that Non-human personas differ from User personas in that Non-human personas are primarily based on facts, so we need to check and double-check the quality of facts we include.

Data and statistics for Non-human personas can be sourced from documentation produced by respectable global organisations like the UN, and from more localised affiliate-free organisations.

Ideally, you could also interview experts such as scientists, experts, and/or people already impacted by any environmental concerns relevant to the change/product being designed.

Non-human persona purpose
Combining Nielson Norman Group’s user persona and Snezl’s non-human persona guidance:
Be a realistic and fact-based representation of a non-human entity to assist balancing user-centred and life-centred design during project shaping, development, maintenance, and shut-down by fostering empathy and understanding in stakeholders.

Tips
To create a persona that is be believable, visual, and usable, ensure you use only well-researched facts, and try using first-person narrative and verbatim to assist empathy among the team

Example-Non-human Animal Persona

Non-user personas

Non-human personas tend to focus on the environment (land, sea, air, animals, etc.), while classic user-profiles represent the target audience. Non-users are the people indirectly or invisibly impacted at any stage of the product lifecycle:

Will the use of your product create discrimination against a minority?

Does the sourcing of your product’s materials encourage forced child labour?

Does the disposal of your product poison the soil system in another country that then destroys a foreign farmer’s ability to maintain their income?

I’ve created the Non-user persona template to represent those people who may otherwise fall down the gap between the User and Non-human personas. The Product Lifecycle Impact Cards may highlight the existence of these Non-users, but creating their personas can help establish them as key considerations and assist the team and business in empathising.

Tips

Non-user personas may represent a real person or a persona group. They may be a combination of fictional representation and scientific data, so be as careful with what you include for these as you would with Non-human personas.

Human Non-user Persona

Persona templates & instructions

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