Design personas are a stable part of our UX toolkit. They help us keep the audience in perspective and communicate their needs. Personas naturally evolve throughout a project as we gain more knowledge through user research - but where do we start before we have research?
Proto-personas are not a substitute for research informed personas, but they do help us to quickly document audience assumptions around persona types, goals and frustrations. Making persona creation a collaborative activity allows us to extract stakeholder knowledge and assumptions around the audience to gain a collective understanding and achieve stakeholder buy-in to our process from the project outset.