[IMAGE] A grid of 12 images and accompanying text. The images are all of people, of varying ages and races. The texts are barely readable, and contain small biographical information and detail about each person's job and needs related to the work of The Coral Project.

When you build for large numbers of users, it can help to divide them into carefully drawn archetypes, known as Personas.

Personas aren’t real people (we used stock images from iStock and WOC in Tech for their photos) but are mashups of some of more than 300 people whom we’ve interviewed over the past 18 months. We shared the broad user needs based on our research last year. These are more detailed examinations of those needs.

This is how the U.S. Government’s user experience site defines effective personas:

  • Represent a major user group for your website
  • Express and focus on the major needs and expectations of the most important user groups
  • Give a clear picture of the user’s expectations and how they’re likely to use the site
  • Aid in uncovering universal features and functionality
  • Describe real people with backgrounds, goals, and values

Usually, projects will create 4-5 personas to help guide their work. Since we are designing a series of products for many different kinds of users – journalists, frequent readers, technologists, engagement editors, publishers, all in newsrooms of very different sizes, languages, and resources – Greg Barber, our Head of Strategy and Partnerships, has created a series of personas for each user type.

These don’t cover every kind of person we will design for, but between them we hope that they express most of the key needs on which we need to focus as we build.

Click here to see our personas.

Like everything else we do, these are works in progress. If you have any thoughts about how we can improve these personas, let us know in our community.