Know Thy Visitors: Personas for Visitor-centered Museums

By Werner Schweibenz.

Published by The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In order to become more inclusive, museums have to apply their knowledge from audience research and visitor studies. However, this is easier said than done as research generates statistics which are sufficiently abstract to apply in daily work. The personas method, developed for marketing projects and information design in computer science, can provide a solution. Personas are representations of archetypical users, based on quantitative and/or qualitative data. The use of personas allows museums to identify typical user needs and goals, and develop user representations that stand for (stereo)typical requirements suitable for use in the information design process for both exhibits and information material such as brochures or Web sites. The personas method also helps to develop more user-oriented products and services, becoming an important part of improving the museum experience. Having an appropriate understanding of visitor needs is critical for both traditional and virtual museums. To achieve these goals, professionals can use their experiences and data from marketing and visitor studies to identify target groups. The application of personas translates these data or experiences into concepts that can be easily applied in information design.

Keywords: Visitor-centered Design, User-oriented Design, Personas

International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp.103-110. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 594.319KB).

Herr Werner Schweibenz

researcher, Museumsinformationssystem (MusIS), Library Service Centre Baden-Württemberg, University of Konstanz, Konstanz, Baden-Württemberg, Germany

I studied linguistics and information science at the University of Saarland, Germany, and the University of Missouri, Columbia, USA. My ph.d. thesis in information science (under review) deals with the transition of the traditional to the virtual museum. My research interests are virtual museums and user-centered information design. As a team member of MusIS (museum information system) I work for the State Museums of Baden-Württemberg providing support for the use of information technology in museums. Currently I work on a project for a virtual museum on the Internet in which we plan to use personas for information design and communication about the project. Werner Schweibenz, BSZ, University of Konstanz.

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