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Transformative Website Style Guide: Personas

This guide offers practical advice on creating a transformative library website.

What is a Persona?

Persona Image

A persona is a representation of a group of your users intended to characterize the whole group. Creating personas of your users can be done in a variety of forms, from simple to complex.

You can use personas when working with any design or product to ensure that you meet the needs and desires of a wide-cross section of your users.

Using Personas

When you hear OCLC discuss changes they are making to Discovery, you will hear them make statements like “Unengaged researchers access the most likely best fulfillment options.” This makes it clear what problems they are trying to solve and who their target audience is for these changes. These simple personas help to frame all of OCLC’s conversations about their product.

Creating Personas

Persona Examples

OCLC's WorldCat Discovery Personas

Western Washington University's detailed personas

Each with a name and multi-page backstory.

MIT's 13 proto-personas

These contain background, goals & needs, and questions & assumptions for each persona. These personas do not contain typical demographic information common to many other persona examples, as proto-personas are generally considered more of a hypothesis about users and require more research to become full personas. 

PALNI Student Personas

The PALNI Information Needs Assessment Project team created a set of personas based on types of students who interacted with our researchers. More work remains to make these personas fully fleshed out as this study only showed us where these users studied and did not fully define what their goals and needs are.