From flat file to interface: Synthesis of personas and analytics for enhanced user understanding

The data-driven persona approach is a communicative design technique for understanding users.

With increasing access to analytics data, personas are more and more generated from online user statistics using big data and algorithmic approaches.

There is a movement from personas -> to data-driven personas -> to persona analytics systems.

This integration offers new opportunities to shift personas from flat files of data presentation to that of interactive interfaces for analytics systems.

We illustrate this transition towards the concept of “persona as interface” with a persona analytics system, Automatic Persona Generation (APG).

In pushing advancements of both persona and analytics conceptualization, development, and use, the APG system presents a multi‐layered “full‐stack” integration. APG affords three levels of user data presentation, which are (a) the conceptual persona, (b) the analytical user metrics, and (c) the foundational user data. The result is a better tool than either persona or analytics along for user understanding.

Moving to a “personas as interfaces” approach offers the benefits of both personas and analytics systems and addresses some of the shortcomings of each. We provide results from user experiments of and use cases for APG the research article linked below.

Jansen, B. J. Jung, S.G., and Salminen, J. (2020) From Flat File to Interface: Conceptual Synthesis of Personas and Analytics for Enhanced User Understanding. 83rd Annual Meeting of the Association for Information Science and Technology. Pittsburgh, PA, USA, 23-28 October 23-28. 1-11.

By Jim Jansen

Dr. Jansen is a Principal Scientist in the social computing group of the Qatar Computing Research Institute, and a professor with the College of Science and Engineering, Hamad bin Khalifa University, and an adjunct professor with the College of Information Sciences and Technology at The Pennsylvania State University. He is a graduate of West Point and has a Ph.D. in computer science from Texas A&M University, along with master degrees from Texas A&M (computer science) and Troy State (international relations). Dr. Jim Jansen served in the U.S. Army as an Infantry enlisted soldier and communication commissioned officer.