I'm not sure how to best represent different states of users during their time on my site.

For example:

New to your system:

  • Billy Buyer
  • Sally Surfer

Familiar with your system:

  • Billy Buyer
  • Sally Surfer

Where you have the same sort of personas, but their mental models are different based on the learning curve of your site. They could transition from new to experienced users during a session, or from one to the next. How have other people had success representing this in user groups, and then wireframing for it?

  • I'm sure there is a right way and a wrong way to do this, but it makes me nervous. It seems to be backwards to get your users used to one site design, and then - once they are "familiar" - make them relearn a new design. – jwegner Mar 27 '12 at 16:33
  • I agree, I wasn't thinking of totally different layouts, more like balancing some advanced options with the more basic stuff, and how people show that shift in a wireframe. – Bjorn2Run Mar 27 '12 at 20:51

I think you can definitely create a different persona based on time. Critical goals of a new user could be different from a returning users so creating a different persona makes sense and could help you better identify the tasks that the user is trying to accomplish. For example, consider two people using a smartphone:

  1. Kat (new user) just got a new Android phone for Christmas; she is really excited to start using her phone and make it personal. Kat's previous phone was a simple Nokia phone that she mostly used for making phone calls. Kat is excited about Android because she hears that it can also have a Facebook.

Goals: Change home screen background and ring tone, set up Facebook.

  1. Jack (experienced user) had an Android phone for a few years now. Jack is very active on social web and follows many blogs on regular basis. When eating breakfast Jack enjoys reading new posts about astronomy; he likes to tell his friends at work what he read and share interesting articles with them. Jack travels a lot; when flying Jack likes to read.

Goals: Quick access not latest posts about astronomy, read astronomy posts when on the plane even when connection is turned off, email links to the posts to his friends.

  • ok cool, so you're just giving them their own personas. That works, I was thinking of it being sort of two groups, with sub personas, but maybe that's getting too granular to get any real design implications from. Thanks! – Bjorn2Run Mar 27 '12 at 20:54

I'd be careful not to put too much emphasis on separating surfers from buyers. The end goal is to convert surfers into buyers, so catering to both differently could detract from usability in the long run.

  • But couldn't buyers also sort of be called members? in that scenario, wouldn't they get some sort of refined interface? – Bjorn2Run Mar 27 '12 at 20:52
  • I agree that these are both different personas, but they both have characteristics of each other so I was just issuing caution so they weren't totally segregated. An assumption should be that you can change a surfer into a buyer with a good UX. But this good UX needs to work for buyers - your bread and butter. I like the idea of looking at "new to system" and "familiar" more than I like the idea of designing for surfers and buyers as separate personas. – Brad Hutchison Mar 28 '12 at 15:23

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