Digital Personas

Keeping the customer’s needs front and center is important when developing new digital tools. We developed a set of user personas as part of our work to establish a more robust and data informed understanding of the individuals that engage digitally with the National Archives (NARA).

User personas are realistic representations of key audience segments that are grounded in research and data. We applied customer data from a variety of sources including website analytics and online surveys to inform the creation of eight personas that represent our digital customers. These personas not only help us capture knowledge about our customers and their needs and preferences, but also help NARA staff empathize with the individuals who use our services.  These representations of our customers are based on quantitative data (e.g., metrics about web pages viewed, social media use) and qualitative user research (e.g., online surveys). It is very important to remember that a persona is a composite representation of the prevalent qualities of an audience segment and will not exactly match a specific person or comprehensively describe the full diversity of a group.

Meet the National Archives Digital Personas:

When conducting research to develop the individual personas, we took an analytical approach using data from our web and social media analytics, our online customer satisfaction survey, and incoming emails from customers. Additionally, we interviewed NARA staff that often interact with the user types we were trying to understand, in order to get their insight and feedback.

Our data sources included:

  • Foresee survey responses (roles, goals, frustrations, open-ended feedback)
  • Google Analytics (behavior, demographics, technology)
  • Incoming email 
  • Interviews with individuals 
  • Previous personas developed for the redesign
  • Social media (demographics, popularity, comments)

These personas will be used to improve NARA’s customers' digital experience. The ultimate goal is that every time a project with a digital component is discussed at NARA, these personas will be used to inform decision making. By identifying the personas that we work with most often and referring to them when thinking about new and better ways to serve them, we can work to better inform and prioritize our work and better understand customer interactions across all of our digital properties.