Designing for STEM Faculty: The Use of Personas for Evaluating and Improving Design

  • Mihaela VorvoreanuEmail author
  • Krishna Madhavan
  • Kanrawi Kitkhachonkunlaphat
  • Liang Zhao
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 9745)


We demonstrate in a case study how we used a qualitative method for user modeling, persona, to evaluate and refine the design of an interactive visual analytics tool. We explain the literature and our methods for building the persona, and its used to (a) evaluate existing design decisions; (b) make new design decisions in order to serve a specific user group, faculty in STEM. We present the results of 24 in-depth, qualitative interviews with STEM faculty. The interviews addressed topics such as daily work, sources of work satisfaction and success, work goals, activities, needs, and difficulties. The results provide an insight into the busy lives of STEM academics and can be useful to other efforts that aim to design for this user group. We discuss how we used these results, presented in the form of a persona, to evaluate existing design decisions and to create new features that would serve this audience.


Personas Scenarios Use cases User experience 



DIA2 research and design was supported by NSF award 1123108. The authors would like to thank the graduate students who were instrumental in the collection, analysis and reporting of data supporting this paper: Zhihua (Emma) Dong, Kanrawi Kitkhachonkunlaphat, Joshua Sarver, Rachel Whitson, and Liang Zhao.


  1. 1.
    Acuña, S.T., Castro, J.W., Juristo, N.: A HCI technique for improving requirements elicitation. Inf. Softw. Technol. 54(12), 1357–1375 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Adlin, T., Pruitt, J., Goodwin, K., Hynes, C., McGrane, K., Rosenstein, A., Muller, M.J.: Putting personas to work. Paper presented at the CHI 2006 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (2006)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Beyer, H., Holtzblatt, K.: Contextual Design: Defining Customer-Centered Systems, p. 154. Elsevier, Amsterdam (1997)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Blomkvist, S.: The User as a Personality: A Reflection in the Theoretical and Practical Use of Personas in HCI Design (Technical report). Uppsala University, Uppsala (2007)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Blomquist, Å., Arvola, M.: Personas in action: ethnography in an interaction design team. In: Proceedings of the Second Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, pp. 197–200. ACM, October 2002Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Carroll, J.M.: Making Use: Scenario-Based Design of Human-Computer Interactions. MIT press, Chicago (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Chang, Y., Lim, Y., Stolterman, E.: Personas: from theory to practices. In: Proceedings of the 5th Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction Building Bridges - NordiCHI 2008, p. 439 (2008). doi: 10.1145/1463160.1463214
  8. 8.
    Chapman, C.N., Milham, R.P.: The personas’ new clothes: methodological and practical arguments against a popular method. In: Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting, vol. 50, no. 5, pp. 634–636. SAGE Publications, October 2006Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Cooper, A.: The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: [Why High-Tech Products Drive us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity], vol. 261. Sams, Indianapolis (1999)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Cooper, A., Reimann, R., Cronin, D.: About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design. Wiley Publishing Inc., Indianapolis (2007)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Cooper, A.: The Origin of Personas (2008). Retrieved
  12. 12.
    Dantin, U.: Application of personas in user interface design for educational software. Reproduction 42, 239–247 (2005). Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Dotan, A., Maiden, N., Lichtner, V., Germanovich, L.: Designing with only four people in mind? – a case study of using personas to redesign a work-integrated learning support system. In: Gross, T., Gulliksen, J., Kotzé, P., Oestreicher, L., Palanque, P., Prates, R.O., Winckler, M. (eds.) INTERACT 2009. LNCS, vol. 5727, pp. 497–509. Springer, Heidelberg (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Duffy, V.G.: Handbook of Digital Human Modeling: Research for Applied Ergonomics and Human Factors Engineering. CRC Press, Boca Raton (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Elmqvist, N., Vorvoreanu, M., Chen, X., Wong, Y., Xian, H., Dong, Z., Johri, A.: DIA2: Web-based cyberinfrastructure for visual analysis of funding portfolios. IEEE Trans. Visual Comput. Graphics 20(12), 1823–1832 (2014). doi: 10.1109/TVCG.2014.2346747 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Grudin, J., Pruitt, J.: Personas, participatory design and product development: an infrastructure for engagement. In: PDC, pp. 144–152, January 2002Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Haikara, J.: Usability in agile software development: extending the interaction design process with personas approach. In: Concas, G., Damiani, E., Scotto, M., Succi, G. (eds.) XP 2007. LNCS, vol. 4536, pp. 153–156. Springer, Heidelberg (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Hartson, R., Pyla, P.S.: The UX Book: Process and Guidelines for Ensuring a Quality User Experience, p. 144. Elsevier, Waltham (2012)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Idoughi, D., Seffah, A., Kolski, C.: Adding user experience into the interactive service design loop: a persona-based approach. Behav. Inf. Technol. 31(3), 287–303 (2012). doi: 10.1080/0144929X.2011.563799 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Aquino, Jr., P.T., Filgueiras, L.V.L.: User modeling with personas. Paper presented at the Proceedings of the 2005 Latin American Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (2005)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Liu, Q., Vorvoreanu, M., Madhavan, K.P.C., McKenna, A.F.: Designing discovery experience for big data interaction: a case of Web-based knowledge mining and interactive visualization platform. In: Marcus, A. (ed.) DUXU 2013, Part IV. LNCS, vol. 8015, pp. 543–552. Springer, Heidelberg (2013). Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Madhavan, K., Vorvoreanu, M., Elmqvist, N., Johri, A., Ramakrishnan, N., Wang, G.A., McKenna, A.: Portfolio mining. IEEE Comput. 45(10), 95 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Matthews, T., Judge, T., Whittaker, S.: How do designers and user experience professionals actually perceive and use personas? Paper presented at the Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (2012)Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Molnar, A., McKenna, A.F., Liu, Q., Vorvoreanu, M., Madhavan, K.: Using visualization to derive insights from research funding portfolios. IEEE Comput. Graphics Appl. 35(3), 91–97 (2015). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    McKenna, A., London, J., Johri, A., Vorvoreanu, M., Madhavan, K.: Developing and advancing a cyberinfrastructure to gain insights into research investments: an organizing research framework. In: Proceedings of the 122nd ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition (2015)Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    National Science Foundation, Funding Rate by State and Organization from FY 2014 to 2015 for NSF (2015a). Retrieved
  27. 27.
    National Science Foundation, NSF Budget Requests to Congress and Annual Appropriations (2015b). Retrieved
  28. 28.
    Nielsen, J.: 10 Usability Heuristics for User Interface Design, 1 January 1995. Retrieved
  29. 29.
    Patton, M.Q.: Qualitative Research and Evaluation Methods. Sage, Thousand Oaks (2015)Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Pruitt, J., Grudin, J.: Personas: practice and theory. In: Proceedings of the 2003 Conference on Designing for User Experiences, pp. 1–15. ACM, June 2003Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Putnam, C., Kolko, B., Wood, S.: Communicating about users in ICTD: leveraging HCI personas. In: Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies and Development, pp. 338–349. ACM, March 2012Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Rönkkö, K., Hellman, M., Kilander, B., Dittrich, Y.: Personas is not applicable: local remedies interpreted in a wider context. In: Proceedings of the Eighth Conference on Participatory Design: Artful Integration: Interweaving Media, Materials and Practices, vol. 1, pp. 112–120. ACM, July 2004Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Spencer, R.: The streamlined cognitive walkthrough method, working around social constraints encountered in a software development company. In: Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2013), pp. 353–359 (2000).
  34. 34.
    Vorvoreanu, M., Dong, Z., McKenna, A., Madhavan, K.: Dealing with data deluge at national funding agencies: an investigation of user needs for understanding and managing research investment. In: Proceedings of CHI 2013 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (2013)Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Vorvoreanu, M., McKenna, A., Dong, Z., Madhavan, K.: Dealing with data deluge at national funding agencies: an investigation of user needs for understanding and managing research investments. In: Yamamoto, S., Oliveira, N.P. (eds.) HIMI 2015. LNCS, vol. 9173, pp. 140–151. Springer, Heidelberg (2015). doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-20618-9_14 CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mihaela Vorvoreanu
    • 1
    Email author
  • Krishna Madhavan
    • 2
  • Kanrawi Kitkhachonkunlaphat
    • 1
  • Liang Zhao
    • 1
  1. 1.Computer Graphics TechnologyPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA
  2. 2.School of Engineering EducationPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

Personalised recommendations