User Profiles

Máirín Duffy duffy at
Thu Nov 19 20:06:27 UTC 2009

On Tue, 2009-11-10 at 15:40 -0800, John Poelstra wrote:
> I'm starting this thread (with Paul's help) and looking for help and a 
> more concrete methodology for building user profiles.  Creating user 
> profiles is part of the project the board is helping to lead around who 
> Fedora's target audience is.  Normally an organization would commission 
> a market study to help identify it's target audience.  These studies 
> require expertise, time, and money... all of which are in short supply 
> to us now.  With that in mind we are attempting to reach the same place, 
> but with a less scientific approach.
> I took information from the the 2009-10-29 board meeting to start a wiki 
> page:
> This page obviously needs a lot more work and I'm wondering if we could 
> get some help from the desktop and design team to know how to be best 
> represent these profiles and build them out.

I think when you talk about defining a target audience and user profiles
for a product, they need to be closely tied to the goals for the
product. The goal of Fedora as defined by our mission statement [1] is:

 "To lead the advancement of free and open source software and content
as a collaborative community.
   " *  The Fedora Project always strives to lead, not follow.
    "* The Fedora Project consistently seeks to create, improve, and
spread free/libre code and content.
    "* The Fedora Project succeeds through shared action on the part of
many people throughout our community."

If the chosen target audience and user profiles don't reflect that goal,
then they won't help further it.

Paul announced the Board's current working definition of Fedora's target
audience in his 26 Oct 'Target audience' mail to this list [2]. I think
this definition does a fine job of linking back to the goal of the
project. That target audience definition with my inline comments on its
relevancy to our goal is as follows:

 (1) Someone who is voluntarily switching to Linux

Our strategy is not to force anyone to use Fedora. It's not going to
come pre-installed on your computer. Maybe a better way of stating this
point though is, "Someone who voluntarily wants to try another way of
running their computer." It doesn't necessarily have to be Linux. The
main point here should be, the target audience needs to be open to a
change in how they use their computer. We are trying to lead the
advancement of free software, and the folks most likely to switch to
free software (advancing it through greater ubiquity) are those who are
not afraid to undergo some change. (Let's make the change as painless as
possible though!) 

 (2) Someone who is familiar with computers, but is not necessarily a
hacker or developer

You have to have at least a vague notion of what an operating system is
to understand what Fedora is. You shouldn't, however, have to be a
hacker to be able to spread Fedora and free software (our goal). We want
to spread free and open source software, and we won't spread it as far
and wide as possible if we limit ourselves to catering to hackers and
developers only. That is a very limiting audience when the goal is to
'spread free/libre code and content.' The body of folks interested in
technology is substantially larger than our current sphere of influence.
I interpret point #2 to mean that if you're familiar enough with
computers to comfortably place an order with, you should be
in our sights. 

 (3) Someone who is likely to collaborate in some fashion when
something's wrong with Fedora.

This collaboration can be as simple as filing a bug report using abrt or
posting a comment on a Fedora-related blog or news article. We want to
advance free software as a collaborative community, so focusing on folks
who are willing to collaborate, even just a little bit, to give back, is
important to advance that goal. This is not to say we shouldn't work on
tools such as abrt to make it easier for them to collaborate with us.
Just that they need to be receptive to engaging with us. I think this
statement could be further refined - you can collaborate when there
isn't anything wrong with Fedora as well, by blogging about Fedora or
talking about Fedora at a local LUG meeting or technology fair.

 (4) Someone who wants to use Fedora for general productivity, either
using desktop applications or a Web browser.

I think the web browser point is key here. To collaborate on content in
the community, a browser is a must, and a good web browsing experience
is key to easing the anxiety of migrating platforms - if I can get my
webmail in Fedora just as (if not more) easily as I could in Windows or
on OS X,  I haven't had to give it up to migrate so there's less pain in
the migration. I do think this is the weakest of the four target
audience statements, though, because 'general productivity' is a bit
nebulous/vague. But we can certainly flesh it out further, defining it
more finely and prioritizing the finer points with user studies.

I think to properly identify user profiles (and I think by user profiles
we mean personas [3] ), we need to study folks who match the 4 target
audience attributes above. I think the user profiles wiki page that John
started [4] is a good first cut at further refining 'general
productivity' in point 4 above. Rather than simply brainstorming what
'general productivity' means though, I think we should additionally
distill what kinds of tasks it means by observing folks who fit the  4
points above.

Since this message is already really long, I'm going to cut this here.
Next I am going to make a post about our options on moving forward with
a user research plan.



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