Book Review: The User is Always Right

Ian Lurie

If you read this blog, you know how much I value personas. They’re a great tool for everything from marketing planning to interface design to search marketing.

“The User Is Always Right: A Practical Guide to Creating and Using Personas for the Web (VOICES)” (Steve Mulder, Ziv Yaar) is one of the definitive works on the subject. I just finished a re-read, and I recommend it, with a couple qualifications:

The Not-So-Good

This book starts with the basics, explaining personas and why you need them. Then the authors dive deep, into segmentation, cluster analysis and more technical details.

That’s great. It’s also a bit of a headache, at times. Be prepared to slow down and read some chapters twice.

Why It’s Great, Anyway

It’s hard to ding a book for being too thorough. So take my complaint with a grain of salt. This is a fantastic book. It’s written in plain language and takes you step-by-step through personas. Most important, the authors recognize that you can’t always do every step. So they prioritize, and offer ‘Use this if…’ guidelines that give you a reality check when you need it.

If you’re an internet marketer, or involved in internet marketing or development, you need to read this book.

“The User Is Always Right: A Practical Guide to Creating and Using Personas for the Web” (Steve Mulder, Ziv Yaar)

Plus, if you buy it from the link above, you’ll help me buy a nice Hanukah gift or two…

Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team- training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at

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