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I'm a student doing a final study assignment at a company. I need to analyze their target audience, but that is still unknown to the company. I know who their clients are, but it's (as far as I know) impossible to make a persona out of it.

Their clients are mostly other companies who need back-end developers to program their designs. But how can I create a persona based on this information? I can't say that they're only 'man', or '30 to 50 years old'.

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"Their clients are mostly other companies who need back-end developers to program their designs" That is your target audience. A persona is different to the target audience. –  JonW Feb 21 '13 at 16:25
    
Thanks. It's more clear now then it was. I think I need to dump persona's. A target audience suits this project far more. –  Angelo A Feb 22 '13 at 8:41
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2 Answers

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You are mentioning Personas as well as Target Audience in the same breath, but they are slightly different.

Target Audience (used by marketing in order to separate customers into dedicated groups for selling effort)

  • are mainly distinguished by demographics
  • sometimes with income
  • sometimes with behaviours and lifestyle too

Personas (used by software development in order to separate groups of users for tailoring the interface)

  • are distinguished by demographics
  • show behaviours and attitutes
  • and most important, they describe goals these users have

JonW already told in his comment your target audience. If you are unsure, if these clients are Personas too - they are not, because they are not using the software!

I would treat them as (external) stakeholders in your software development process. That means, they have interests in the software and possibly some specific needs. But these needs go into feature gathering rather than decisions how the interface concept is made, because they will not use it by themself.

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Personas are no holy grail. They sometimes help, but they have as many pitfalls as advantages. If they don't feel right, dump them.

My take on user modelling is that every situation calls for its own framework. Sometimes you can describe your users in three basic categories. Sometimes you want a matrix that combines attributes. Sometimes you want to describe a trajectory like novice-expert which gives you graded attributes and maybe a kind of landscape that users move through. Maybe you want a graph, or a cube, or a lattice. Sometimes you want to be mathematical, and sometimes you want to be floaty and associative. What you want to take into account all depends on the domain, the task, and the client.

The main point is that you answer the question "Who are my users?" in a way that is manageable and compact. Something you can refer to in a methodical way in the rest of your design documents.

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