"Personas" are detailed research-based profiles of typical or target users of a web site, created so that people building the site build it for those people, with their particular needs and goals, instead of just some generic average bunch of users. Each persona has a name, age, and all other personal details, so instead of saying "people want to do X" one would say "Maria wants to do X, because ..."
There's been discussion at the UX SE about them, for example What research methods can I use to create personas?. And there are web sites such as Practical Personas: The User is Always Right.
Library users have particular sets of needs (research for an assignment, finding three peer-reviewed articles, citing references properly, etc.) and in academic libraries fall naturally into certain categories (undergraduate/graduate/faculty, science/business/arts/humanities, etc.). It seems like personas would work well for improving library web design.
Have they? I am interested in knowing:
- what types of personas were made (particularly in an academic library context)
- what research was used to create them
- how they were used during user experience work (for example, did you look at the catalogue and say, "Maria needs to get this article on the reading list her prof sent"?)
A LITA presentation, Persona Most Grata: Invoking the User from Data to Design talks about library applications of personas, giving four examples and answering some of my first two questions, but being slides there isn't much supplementary helpful information.