The Computers and Composition logo, published to "Mapping Personas: Designing UX Relationships for an Online Coastal Atlas"My newest article, “Mapping Personas: Designing UX Relationships for an Online Coastal Atlas,” is currently available in volume 43 of Computers and Composition. In the article, Christina Moore and I explain our approach to developing personas for an online coastal atlas.

What Does Creating Personas Teach Us About Digital Rhetoric?

Following the emerging importance of networks to digital rhetoric, we theorize user experience (UX) design as a form of networked rhetoric. By networked rhetoric, we mean the act of tracing rhetorical impacts between human and nonhuman actors within networks. While researching emerging trends in this area, we were asked to conduct a usability study of an online coastal atlas. During this research project, we found that the atlas was not usable for many of its core user base, and were able to help the atlas’s development team to rethink their application based on the relationships they wanted users to be able to form with this emerging system. Through our discussion of this research within the purview of networked rhetoric, we provide implications for other digital rhetoricians interested in helping to craft better user experiences for their colleagues, students, and community partners.

What Is Our Approach to Persona Development?

In the article, we explain that one of the most common ways UX designers represent user responses to an application is through the development of personas, or archetypal users. Persona development is a process by which UX designers seek to represent key trends in user research through crafting archetypal users that represent these trends. As Shlomo Goltz has described this process:

A persona is a way to model, summarize and communicate research about people who have been observed or researched in some way. A persona is depicted as a specific person but is not a real individual; rather, it is synthesized from observations of many people. Each persona represents a significant portion of people in the real world and enables the designer to focus on a manageable and memorable cast of characters, instead of focusing on thousands of individuals. Personas aid designers to create different designs for different kinds of people and to design for a specific somebody, rather than a generic everybody.

So, personas can help digital rhetoricians to represent the user base of an application as a “manageable and memorable cast of characters,” rather than just as a list of user requirements, numbers, and statistics.

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Cite The Article (APA)

Getto, G. & Moore, C. (2017). Mapping personas: Designing UX relationships for an online coastal atlas. Computers and Composition, 43, 15–34.