Week 5: Personas


This weeks lecture pod provided an in depth overview of the interactive media design process.

Throughout the user experience documentation process, the designer must consider developing user personas. In order to best inform and validate our designs and user experience, it can be very insightful to create fictional users to represent real users.

These user personas represent the goals and behaviour of a hypothesised group of users. Data collected from interviews with users can then be used to construct personas.

Alan Cooper, who developed the concept of personas recommends that softwares are to be designed for single archetypal users, as stated within his book, ‘The Inmates Are Running the Asylum’.

Fictional details personas usually exhibit include the following:

Screen Shot 2017-05-08 at 9.07.13 AM

Waterson, S. (2016). GDIDMPOD05 [Video file]. Retrieved from vimeo.com/159653223

The use of creating a persona outlining the subcategories shown above will aid the designer through configuring their projects whilst having a clear and specific vision of their users and their expectations in mind. This also allows the designer to initiate the crystallisation of the task definition and gathering of requirements. Furthermore, the user personas created can be later referenced when ensuring that the design is accommodating and meeting the users goal.

Designers must consider the size of their audience, as it can be an influential mechanism when attempting to conform your product to your specific audience. Typical audience sizes can range from large to small.


Universal designers such as ‘Ebay’ may have difficulties when developing user personas.

It can be helpful to identify their:

  • core audience – focus on satisfying this audience
  • fringe audience


When creating personas for small audiences such as ‘Dora the Explorer’, the designer is given the opportunity to become more specific with their audience personas. Utilising research will allow the designer to gain insights and help identify intricacies of their users.

If given the opportunity, getting feedback from users will inform and guide your persona development in order to confirm or deny any suspicions the designer has about their user base. This can illuminate new ideas that were not initially consider and further define your personas and utilise your design to create an optimal experience.

When developing personas, one must answer the questions:

    • Are there different tasks for different personas?
    • Are the tasks you’re designing for matching with the user base your personas represent?
    • Is what we’re designing for the middle, beginning or end of their task paths?
    • What devises are your personas likely to use?
            • Are they expecting a cross platform experience? (‘meet the users where they are’)
            • e.g. mobile use will be very high for users in their 20s

The designs being created will heavily rely on the project motives and what the product’s content is dependent on:

    • task dependent: design for a discovery or specific path
    • user dependent: design for both/combination of task development and user dependent
          • likely means that you need to design for both (user dependent and task dependent)
          • this is why most sites have you browse and search to accomodate large audiences

Mental Models

Mental models online the thoughts people form around an idea or activity, often illustrating how users approach a particular problem. It can also function as a guide to the interaction patterns being utilised.

      • e.g. taking a note
            • 16yo : using a smartphone
            • elderly : using post it note

These models are most constructive when included as a part of the user persona as it centralises these details throughout the design processes. After completion of the design, one is also able to employ this information as a form of reassurance in regards to flow and if it accommodates to the mental model of the users.

Artefact Persona

Artefact personas are most useful for client meetings where often the discussion collapses into subjective assertion (e.g. ‘I don’t like red’). In order to avoid this potential set back one can develop a personality for their project and permit an objective analysis.   

To develop an artefact persona, you would ask product personality questions, such as the following:

Screen Shot 2017-05-08 at 9.07.47 AMWaterson, S. (2016). GDIDMPOD05 [Video file]. Retrieved from vimeo.com/159653223

An example of a process for developing your product or artefact persona:

Screen Shot 2017-05-08 at 9.08.23 AM

Waterson, S. (2016). GDIDMPOD05 [Video file]. Retrieved from vimeo.com/159653223

This diagram exhibits the identification and use of experience keywords. The process consists of listing descriptive words or concepts that reoccur during stakeholder and user interviews. Groupings of these words and later selecting keywords that would be used to describe a person simplifies the design process as the users will be able to relate to the design more personally. 

The study conducted above, concluded the finding that users were more likely to accept the product if it had a similar personality to that of a visiting nurse.

Thus, this useful information allowed them to shape a visual appearance that presented itself as caring, conscientious and trustworthy throughout tone and style.

An experience keyword is therefore described as the initial 5 second emotional reaction and what the archetypal persona should feel when viewing the interface.

Screen Shot 2017-05-08 at 9.08.06 AM

Waterson, S. (2016). GDIDMPOD05 [Video file]. Retrieved from vimeo.com/159653223

The list was further refined and listed additional words that support each keyword to clarify its meaning. These keywords will suggest strong directions and govern visual strategy.


In response, I believe that the process of developing user personas and scenarios should be one of the initial steps taken throughout the design process, driving the orientation of the process upwards. If these personas and scenarios are not identified, the designer can be confronted with copious amounts of extra time which could have been avoided.


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