WordCamp Personas

Last year, the WordCamp US organizing team asked me to assist them with putting all the selected talks into the grid. It was a lot of fun and a challenge, but I was able to do it because I had a set of personas ready.

Personas are regularly used in web design to make sure that you are solving your users.  Usability.gov describes effective personas as having these five characteristics:

  • Represent a major user group for your website
  • Express and focus on the major needs and expectations of the most important user groups
  • Give a clear picture of the user’s expectations and how they’re likely to use the site
  • Aid in uncovering universal features and functionality
  • Describe real people with backgrounds, goals, and values

When looking through the attendee list from previous WordCamps, looking through pictures from those camps, and drawing on the dozens of WordCamps I have attended, I came up with ten personas that I used.  My goal was to make sure whenever possible, each persona would want to attend only 1 session per slot (minimize FOMO), If there was nothing in one slot for a persona, there absolutely was something in the session that followed.

Adjusting usabilities Persona guidelines for a conference, I knew that I wanted:

  • Represent a major attendee group for the conference
  • Express and focus on the major interests and expectations of the most important user groups
  • Give a clear picture of the attendees expectations and how they’re likely to attend the conference
  • Aid in uncovering universal interests
  • Describe real people with backgrounds, goals, and values

I came up with ten different personas that I used.  I analyzed each talk and coded them so I knew which personas would be interested in which talks before placing any of the talks in the grid.

Clara – Owns Clara Teacher Supplies in Philadelphia which recently added an e-commerce store that she had her sister’s nephew build. Not interested in technical talks. Some interest in designer talks, but mostly as it relates to how it could help grow her site’s traffic. Hoping to learn about ways to make more money from her site. Might leave early to spend more time with her family.

Amy – Support Engineer for a WordPress company. Assists users with sites. Comfortable with technical topics, but not highly interested by them. Interested in topics related writing, art, and community. Wants to spend plenty of time with her friends from around the country also coming to WordCamp US.

Wilfred – Systems Administrator. Works for a large company on a team that supports WordPress and multiple other systems. Mostly interested in talks that will help him do a better job, but also interested in talks about managing clients since he does a bit of freelancing building sites.

River – Front End Developer. Likes both design and development. Works at a regional agency that mostly does sites for mid-size businesses on a small team. Dabbles in JS and PHP, very comfortable with CSS and HTML.

Rory – Blogger. While also being a stay at home dad, he has been writing about food for a couple of years and it generates some revenue.  Would like to be able to transition to full-time blogging when his kids are no longer home.

Rose – Journalist. Writes for a regional general purpose publication. Isn’t put off by technical topics, but also won’t gravitate to them. Wants to better understand WordPress, but mostly interested in things that will help her tell stories better.

Jack – Consultant. Helps business’s set up their WordPress sites through premium themes and plugins. Dabbles in CSS and copies code found online but doesn’t really understand all of it.

Martha – Back End Developer. She works for a large well-known agency that builds large WordPress sites. Has contributed a patch or two to WordPress.  Would like to know more JavaScript.

Donna – Designer. Dabbles in CSS and HTML. Mostly works in Photoshop. Becoming more interested in User Experienced Design. Wouldn’t mind some intro to code talks or things related to project management.

The Doctor – Experienced Core Contributor. Has a large breadth of knowledge and interests that come from years of involvement with WordPress. Doesn’t interact with clients directly, so not interested in talks like that. Likely will spend half or more of the conference in the hallway track.

These personas aren’t perfect, but they did enable me to make a more informed decision. I would encourage others working on a conference schedule to create personas for their event as it does help to understand the attendees more and you can thus create an event that serves them well.

2 thoughts on “WordCamp Personas”

  1. Hi Aaron:

    This is a really intriguing list, and it covers most of the personas of WordCamp attendees. I would add two more to this list:

    – A marketing persona, who works at a regional agency, and wants to learn about WordPress, in order to reach more people, or learn about tools and strategies that they don’t already know about.

    – A freelancer persona, who doesn’t work at an agency or WordPress company, and knows substantially more about code than the Consultant persona, but essentially operates as an agency of one. They want to attend WordCamp to learn more about advanced techniques, plugins, or coding methodologies. They also will end up in the hallway track for a good amount of time.

    Great list, and a great resource for those organizing a WordCamp!

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