Mobile app development Part 2 – Personas

This is the second part in a series of how development of a commercial educational  app was conducted. In the first part we looked at the need finding activities used to evaluate what features to include into the application. In this second part we look at the creation of personas to reflect target user goals and motivations.

Personas are representations of target user groups. They represent the goals, motivations, characteristics and behaviours of a real group of users. Real people have needs, motivations, emotions and frustrations (among other things) that can be captured and communicated using personas.

Here is one of the personas drawn up based on first stage of the

Persona 1


Name: Christy Du Plessis
Stays off campus with two other friends
Studies: Botany PHD

Type of phone: Iphone

Experience level: Expert

Background and motivations: Loves hiking and painting. Drives second hand Toyota to campus when she needs to but otherwise works from home most of the time. Goes out when she can but usually is doing experiments, writing up or travelling doing conferences. Uses her phone all the time to stay in touch with family and friends. Downloads art images and maps for hiking trails. Is part of the hiking group on campus and gets notifications of hikes through the campus intranet.

Likes to keep abreast with what is going on but is not very patient and has very little attention span before she gets bored. Looking to enter the job market soon and is interested in company presentations.

Persona 2


Name: Thabo Ngoma
Stays at a campus residence

Studies: Engineering 2nd year

Type of phone: Blackberry 9300

Experience level: Intermediate

Motivations and Background: Studies a lot and spends time doing pracs and at the library till late hours. Usually misses meal times because of this and is never sure of when shuttles are running. Uses his phone to Facebook and but does not use the Internet a lot as he would easily run out of airtime. Does not go out much because he does not know what is going on around campus. His nose is usually in a book. Supports local football though and is a fan of Pirates and tries to watch all their matches. His average is 62% overall but he hopes he can get better marks in order to get a bursary.

But why Personas?

Personas help

  1.  Summarize the needs, behavior and goals of target users from the needs gathering stage
  2. Help in the selection of users for user testing
  3. Brings a human element to the development of applications as developers have a name and face to develop for

The next part looks at how prototyping was conducted.

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