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Week 5: Personas and Audience Analysis 5 May 2010

Posted by Kathy E. Gill (@kegill) in Course Notes.


  • Discussion : Facebook
  • Discussion : Aesthetic Analysis
  • Discussion : Competitive Analysis (three not linked)
  • Mini-Lecture : Personas (ppt)
  • Reminder: please do not use “course notes” as a category! And remember to use the “more” link on your posts.

Discussion : Facebook
One of the goals for the websites you are developing in this class is for them to mindfully integrate social media tools. Although we may be advising organizations about how they can utilize social media networks … at the same time we are “consumers” or “members” of those same networks.

Take a moment and read these three articles, then we’ll talk in small groups about how we would advise Seattle H4H to think about FB integration. We’ll begin with this excerpt from danah boyd’s keynote at WWW2012 last week (emphasis added):

Privacy is not about control over data nor is it a property of data.  It’s about a collective understanding of a social situation’s boundaries and knowing how to operate within them. In other words, it’s about having control over a situation. It’s about understanding the audience and knowing how far information will flow.  It’s about trusting the people, the situating, and the context.  People seek privacy so that they can make themselves vulnerable in order to gain something: personal support, knowledge, friendship, etc.

People feel as though their privacy has been violated when their expectations are shattered.  This classicly happens when a person shares something that wasn’t meant to be shared.  This is what makes trust an essential part of privacy.  People trust each other to maintain the collectively understood sense of privacy and they feel violated when their friends share things that weren’t meant to be shared.

Understanding the context is not just about understanding the audience. It’s also about understanding the environment.  Just as people trust each other, they also trust the physical setting.  And they blame the architecture when they feel as though they were duped.  Consider the phrase “these walls have ears” which dates back to at least Chaucer. The phrase highlights how people blame the architecture when it obscures their ability to properly interpret a context.

Consider this in light of grumblings about Facebook’s approach to privacy.  The core privacy challenge is that people believe that they understand the context in which they are operating; they get upset when they feel as though the context has been destabilized. They get upset and blame the technology.


During its tenure, Facebook has made a series of moves that have complicated people’s understanding of context, resulting in numerous outpourings of frustration over privacy.


Facebook is highly incentivized to encourage people to make their data more publicly accessible.  But most people would not opt-in to such a change if they understood what was happening. As a result, Facebook’s initial defaults were viewed as deceptive by regulators in Canada and Europe.  I interviewed people about their settings.  Most had no idea that there was a change.  I asked them to describe what their privacy settings were and then asked them to look at them with me; I was depressed to learn that these never matched.  (Notably, everyone that I talked to changed their settings to more private once they saw what their settings did.)

Aesthetic Analysis

First, look at the sites analyzed by your discussion partners

  • ecommerce : Elizabeth, Madeline, Nicole, Scott, Stephen, Toni
  • media : Elise, Janna, Jody, Sarah
  • nfp: Holly, Leslie, Pam
  • government : Danielle, Helen, Marc (need links to your analyses, not the websites)

Second, in small groups, compare your criteria/assessments/tasks. Try to develop a set of heuristics (measurements) applicable for analyzing this genre.

Competitive Analysis

SeattleH4H 1 and 2 : read & compare – discuss (split so that a group is composed of half from one group and half from the other)

Individual Projects: Danielle/Jody/Nazgul/Stephen and Elise/Leslie/Scott. Likewise,  read & compare – discuss.

Overarching questions: what did your partners think about re competitive analysis that you will use next time? If you had this assignment to do over, how would you approach it?


Details for Defining Personas

  • A name (a real name like Greg or Madeline, etc.)
  • Age
  • A photo
  • Personal information, including family and home life
  • Work environment (the tools used and the conditions worked under, rather than a job description)
  • Computer proficiency and comfort level with using the Web
  • Pet peeves and technical frustrations
  • Attitudes
  • Motivation or “trigger” for using a high-tech product (not just tasks, but end results)
  • Information-seeking habits and favorite resources
  • Personal and professional goals
  • Candid quotes

Source: Alan Cooper, The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Why High-Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity, Indianapolis: Sams, 1999, Chapter Nine. (Wording condensed and modified.)

From InfoToday

Examples & Resources:

More Tasks To Think About




1. Scott Loughran - 5 May 2010

E-Commerce Group Notes (Stephen, Toni, Scott):
– Business with an offline presence and marrying their offline experience with their online experience (i.e. J.Crew)
– Integration of online commerce with offline pickup (Kathy’s Best Buy)
– Websites are an advertising piece, not only an information piece (Eye Fi SD card)

2. greti79 - 5 May 2010

Things to look for on e-commerce
•Shopping cart/bag in the top right hand corner of your site.
•The logo/text image of your company name should be in the left hand corner and always be a link to your home page.
•Everything in the top two inches of your site should be your primary navigation and be displayed on every page of your site.
•Secondary navigation tends to fall on second level pages and in the left hand column of the page.
•Secondary navigation also serves as a filtering tool, and if you need more filters go ahead and add it to your third level pages right below your primary navigation.
•Social network links are not that important — you want users to shop — place twitter and facebook links at the bottom of the page.
•Photos are a must, to show products and as a way to include ads on your page for those faithful advertisers.
• Product reviews
• Fonts to promote ads

3. daniellegatsos - 5 May 2010

-The main driver of web design is the distribution of content.
-Government sites tend to have a lot of information, and some definitely display the info better than others.
-Boxes are popular, but not always effective.
– Sites catered to user(s) in most cases the user needs info- so aesthetic appeal isn’t as important, nonetheless, others are trying to get people involved (Military, Politics) so those tend to have a more appealing design.

4. noellawood11 - 5 May 2010

Non-Profit websites need to have:
• Websites should be there to make money.
• Call to action should be primary factor.
• Some sites focused more on getting involved than donating. This should be reversed.
• Make it easy for people to donate should be primary focus.
• Needs to connect with people on an emotional level lots of photos and stories.

5. ssglazer - 5 May 2010

Entertainment / Media Group Analysis:
This genre of websites should engage the viewer, and in a way entertain the viewer. There are more images, videos, typography styles that have a higher importance than other genre of websites. The typography must be legible and stylized so that content is not lost. This genre is a content heavy site, with a continuous flow of links and navigational resources to keep the audience moving through the site without coming to dead ends in the website.

More advanced technologies are embedded in Entertainment and Media websites like javascript, jquery and widget plugins. They tend to be a more tech heavy site.

Entertainment and Media are essentially two completely different genres and will engage their audiences differently. Entertainment relies heavily on larger images, more prominent videos and interactive tools. Where as Media sites tends to be less interactive but still clean, organized. Audiences use media genre sites for resources and information so making sure that the information is easily accessible and comprehensible should be their number one priority.

Lastly branding is an important part of Media and Entertainment Genre sites. Having color, typography and styles that gives the audience insight to let them know who’s website they are browsing is great for brand recognition, even without seeing the logo or name of the site.

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