As part of the first stage of the brief the team was required to create Personas which represented typical users of the Blackboard Learn system. Each member of the team decided to create one Persona each which we would then collectively refine as a group. We used a Google site for the collaborative storing of research and Xtensio for persona creation.

What are Personas

Personas are essentially models, which are created by collating and analysing research data obtained through user observations and interviews, and through the collating and refinement of various other data sources such as market segmentation models, literature reviews and previous studies. The goal of a persona is not to model one type of user but instead many typical users, so as to provide a point of focus which will engender empathy, provide a basis for decision making and prevent focus being drawn to edge cases.

“Good models emphasise the salient features of the structures and relationships they represent and de-emphasise the less significant details” (About Face, 2014)

Three Personas

The Team created three personas to capture and represent a composite of types of users within the college. Due to the time constraints on the project it was not possible to undertake user interviews and observations to create the personas and instead we created what is called provisional or ad-hoc personas. Structured like real personas, these instead used available data such as our personal experiences as students and online statistical information such as market data, census results and college reports.

Although not ideal they are preferable to no models  and do help to provide a point of design focus and reference (Cooper et al., 2014; Norman, 2004) . And when combined with scenarios and mood boards helped create a certain level of empathy.

A brief synopsis of each profile is listed at the bottom of the page. Although we initially started with three personas these where edited to two, our primary persona Dave and our secondary persona Anna.Our third persona Gerard was removed as we felt he represented quite a small section of college students within IADT, with only 7% of students in 3rd level college being mature students and 93% of these being-part time (Irish Universities Association. 2015/2016), also Anna and Gerard are both mature part time students.The IADT annual report supports these findings with 9% of students being part time, although the report does not confirm the number of mature students it is reasonable to assume that the majority of these are mature. Given this and the fact that our third persona Anna is also a mature student it was decided to combine traits from Gerard with Anna.

IADT Student Statistics 2016

To establish the level of I.T literacy in our personas a combination of research from PEW, the teams I.T literacy and observations from both work and family members was used. The general feeling was that people in the 20-30 age bracket where very I.T literate and had regular exposure to both social media platforms as well as other forms of online communication. Of young adults 60% visit a social networking site daily, and relatively the same number (62%) send and receive email daily (PEW, 2010).  Four out of every five (80 %) young people used a computer on a daily basis in 2014, nearly 20 percentage points higher than among the whole population (63 %), (Eurostat, 2015).

Based on the previous information we felt it was reasonable to assume that Dave was a good fit for our primary persona with Anna filling the role of secondary persona. We also felt that many of Anna’s frustrations and goals would be fulfilled through our primary personas possible interface needs.

Persona 1: David the Design Student – View Full Profile

Persona 1: Dave

Dave is a full time student in first year Visual Communications. He works part time to fund his education as his mother is unemployed and his family do not have much money to spare. He puts a lot of pressure on himself to do well and sometimes lets this pressure get to him. He is familiar with various social media platforms and would consider himself quite I.T literate

Frustrations  Goals
  • Waiting on responses
  • Taking a long time to complete tasks
  • Finding the correct actions to complete tasks
  • Receive emails
  • Send group events
  • Submit projects on time and without hassle
  • Email students and lecturers
  • Search the college directory

Persona 2: Mature Student Gerard Ryan – Digital Entrepreneur – View Full Profile

Persona 2: Gerard

Gerard is a single guy using his spare time to return to college at night, to obtain the skills and formal knowledge in something he really enjoys doing “Digital Marketing & Entrepreneurship”. He would like to become more qualified, proficient and in turn confident so he can progress to a full time role in this area.

Gerard currently works for a digital marketing company across various aspects of the business, one of which is digital marketing, a role he would like to specialise in. He is familiar with various social media platforms and would consider himself quite I.T literate but not a tech geek. Hes reasonably outgoing but not an extrovert but also not a wall flower. For leisure he enjoys meeting for drinks over food and his also an avid Cyclocross nut.

Frustrations  Goals
  • Keep up to date on latest course material
  • Submit assignments & view grades>
  • View any important key dates.
  • Unnecessary complications when submitting or viewing grades
  • Encountering problems or unnecessary extra steps to view course material.
  • Ambiguity around key important dates due to information been unclear.

Persona 3: The Mature Part-time Student – View Full Profile

Persona 3: Anna

Anna is a full time mum to a 3 year old but has decided to begin a part-time post-graduate course in Child Protection and Welfare. She completed a degree in social studies but decided to put her career on hold for the first few years after her child was born.

She is anxious to obtain the skills and formal knowledge in something she really feels passionate about. She is nervous about returning to college but hopes to gain the confidence to become successful in this field.

Anna is the first of her family to emigrate from Romania. She is excited by the possibilities that Dublin presents.

Frustrations  Goals
  • Likes things to be clean and well organised so visual clutter annoys and distracts her
  • Encountering problems or unnecessary extra steps to view course material.
  • Ambiguity around key important dates due to information being unclear.
  • Contact lecturers & students
  • Submit assignments & view grades
  • Keep track of deadlines using calendar
  • Keep up to date on latest course material


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