Persona-building is a way to define a target audience and create user scenarios, in order to craft realistic user and usability scenarios. Lynch and Horton define personas as a “fictional representation...that typically includes a name, demographic information, level of expertise” (Lynch & Horton, 2016) among other details about a user’s technology at home and user goals and motivations. Here is a summary of the typical Hollis Library user, her goals and motivations, that we used for our usability test:
Carol McManus: A white 72-year-old retired teacher and wife of deceased town surgeon, Dr. McManus. Has four adult children who sometimes visit from out of state. Her husband recently died so she has a lot of time to read and participate in book clubs. She borrows up to five books per week and enjoys mostly mysteries, but she will also read some romance-themed historical fiction. She attends the church next door. She dislikes asking for help and has internet connectivity issues because her farmhouse is on a hill and it’s really windy there. Sometimes her power goes out due to the wind. She has only logged into her patron account once, when her adult son, Timothy, was visiting from Oregon and showed her how to log in. Since then, she has not made it a practice to log in to her patron account. She frequently calls the library asking if they carry certain books within her favorite series, and to place holds, and request ILLs.
Once in a while she asks the library to make copies for her, which are usually tax or estate related. She occasionally visits the website to look at the events calendar to see what program she would like to attend that week, but rarely uses it to view the catalog. She has complained that she is overwhelmed by the amount of options on the website.
To redesign the site for Carol, we would need to simplify the site and make it easier for her to login and actually use her account, so she doesn't have to call the library for assistance every week. This includes creating larger buttons at the top that specify, “MY ACCOUNT LOGIN” rather than just “Account,” to make it obvious to her where she should login.
Further, the login button should go directly to the login page. Right now, it goes to the Catalog (OPAC) page, and then you have to login from there, which is two extra confusing steps for Carol. To make matters worse, the OPAC design differs from the main site design, which can be confusing to users. Another confusing element for Carol would be that the events page has an entirely different design than both the main website and the OPAC.