Proposed Personas

W3C Editor's Draft

This version:
Latest published version:
Latest editor's draft:


We covered all the main user needs. Also we should clarify that the challenges are examples.

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1. Introduction

This section is non-normative.

Editor's note

We need to confirm that we mapped from the user-needs that the challenges below cover the user needs.

We covered all the main user needs. Also we should clarify that the challenges are examples.

2. Anna a Student who has Dyslexia

Anna has been as student for the past year. Her Fashion Design course has been challenging but fun. She loves the creative aspect of the diploma and would rather be drawing than writing. She has moderate dyslexia, which affects her ability to read, spell and use numbers.

Anna had several projects to complete as part of her portfolio, but the one that worried her most involved a written assignment where she has to research the topic of Post-war fashions and their impact on today’s designs.

2.1 Challenge 1: Finding technology to support password protection and support.

Her use of the library catalogue from home failed at the first attempt when she could not remember her password and kept putting in ‘afib61’ rather than ‘afid16’ and could not see the mistakes. The error message on the web page had not helped by announcing that her user name or password were incorrect and she was not sure which one was incorrect. Luckily, as she was on her own laptop the browser settings allowed her to save her password and she was able to check where she had made the mistake.

2.2 Challenge 2: knowing documentation is accessible

Having navigated the online library system, Anna eventually found a paper on the subject but when she went to download the file she found it was in pdf format. She was hoping to use her text to speech app to have the content read aloud but when she tried to highlight the text nothing happened. She discovered the document was actually an image and yet there was no warning this was the case and she could not find an alternative accessible version of the paper. This meant she had to use optical character recognition to virtually scan the paper. It was not totally successful and took away valuable time from her writing.

2.3 Challenge 3: Filling in a form to ask for an ejournal article

Finally, Anna found an ejournal that had another article but there was a form that had to be completed. Anna duly started the process but realised she did not know the author’s name. She returned to the page where she had found the article to copy and paste the name. Sadly when she returned to the form all that she had filled in was lost. She had hoped to just be able to add the final bit, not have to retype the whole thing again.

(Adapted from MOOCAP Erasmus + Persona CC-BY-4.0

3. Maria who has a visual impairment and memory loss

Maria is 50 years old, married, and lives with her family in Madrid, Spain. Maria has macular degeneration, a disease that mainly affects central vision by causing “blind spots” directly ahead. She is also beginning to lose her memory but still works part-time for a local company.

3.1 Challenge 1: dynamic website elements make key website information difficult to locate

Maria needs to gather the information online: she needs to run through reports about the company and use the company’s website. As the blind spots in her vision have grown she is only able to read the headlines of web pages. She can no longer read the content without using magnification software, which enlarges a part of the screen so that she is able to read the text but the letters are so large that she often has to scroll around and then forgets what was written at the beginning of the sentence. The company’s website looks fancy, has a modern user interface and a lot of dynamic elements that change when you hover the mouse over them. For Maria this site is a total nightmare! She finally finds the link to the data she needs as it appears when she happens to hover over a certain menu item with her mouse. The link is positioned in such a bad place that she did not notice it at first. She has found that it really helps if important interactive items are placed in the usual menu areas on a screen and the icons are clearly defined and easily recognisable.

3.2 Challenge 2: insufficient contrast between background and content

To speed up things and to relieve her eyes, Maria uses text-to-speech software that reads the company’s balance report aloud. She has to take notes while listening to the information which can be hard and she needs to pause several times. The site has grey text on a dark grey background and it it was not for her text to speech program she would have a hard time distinguishing between background and content, but when the text to speech says a number in an odd way she finds it extremely difficult to note down the correct figures. She would like to be able to adjust the contrast levels or to use high contrast mode on the web page without affecting the rest of her browser and computer settings.

(Adapted from MOOCAP Erasmus + Persona CC-BY-4.0

4. Alison - An Aging User with Mild Cognitive Impairment

Alison has a medical background, working in rehabilitation of physical injuries but has recently decided to work part-time to take up more hobbies and be with her grandchildren. She want to try an online course to learn Chinese, in preparation for a special holiday. Alison considers 63 to be the new 36. However, she has difficulties in concentration and word finding often making typos and having to correct sentences when she re-reads them. She becomes easily frustrated as she find learning new things is less intuitive and takes longer. Unfortunately, this includes learning how to use a new interface and affects the way she works when swapping between her tablet, phone and computer.

4.1 Challenge 1: Learning how to use new technologies and interfaces.

Alison took an evening course to learn how to use Windows and MS Word ten years ago and used to feel very comfortable with the interface. Then she had to renew her computer and all the updates meant that most applications looked very different. Now she feels that she has lost her self-confidence and when things go wrong such selecting an incorrect button and an error occurring that she does not understand. She tends to think she cannot cope, so gives up but with support to adapt the interface to suit her needs she could learn to use the new interface.

It was suggested that the number of menu items on the application toolbar were reduced so she could concentrate on the ones she regularly used and when searching for items on the web she made sure on a limited number appeared at one time.

She was also introduced to a de-cluttering browser extension that took away many of the advertisements and other items that cluttered her social media pages when communicating with her grandchildren.

4.2 Challenge 2: Correcting typos and writing fluently.

When writing letters and messages on her computer, phone and tablet Alison has got used to the need to pause every so often and check that what she is writing makes sense. She finds it very annoying having to work so slowly, but by using text to speech to read out content she has found she can hear her mistakes more easily than notice them on the screen. She has also discovered that this process can make reading web pages easier and less tiring. However, she often has to go over instructions several times before completing tasks online and depends on the fact that forms do not time out or she is allowed to extend the time to fill in the edit boxes.

4.3 Challenge 3: Coping with online banking and shopping.

Alison knows her math skills are not as sharp as they used to be. She is worried about making mistakes that will put her financially at risk and she is not sure she should be using her credit card, especially on line. Alison wants to feel safe and supported.

She has found that autocomplete has helped with form filling, but she tends to worry that what has been entered may not be accurate so has a paper based card with some of her more usual details such as phone number, address and post code. Secure information is held in a special folder and she has set up an agreement with the bank to limit spending on her credit card and mobile banking.

5. Jonathan – a therapist with dyscalculia

Jonathan is a massage therapist with dyscalculia. For Jonathan numbers are a foreign language. He can add simple numbers with his fingers and cope with very basic sums. However, he has no number sense with a particular difficulty with numbers that have a series of zeros and their relationship to each other such as 10, 100, 1000 etc. Complex calculations, symbols and mathematical concepts are very problematic.

5.1 Challenge 1: Coping with quantities when shopping online.

Jonathan struggles with the actual value of products, purchasing the correct quantities, for example when buying food at the supermarket and often orders far too much or too little when using online shopping carts. He has found it is so much more helpful to have symbols representing the proportional size of items per price or to have a warning when he has ordered an item that might be very large and therefore costly. He tends to save a shopping list that has been successful and where the amounts have been correct so that he can re-use the list on another occasion. Support has also come from his bank with restrictions on the amount he can spend whether online or using his mobile phone. This can be annoying but has stopped him becoming overdrawn.

5.2 Challenge 2: Remembering pin numbers and passwords.

The use of pin numbers and passwords that insist on a numerical number has always been an issue and most of the time Jonathan uses a secure password application when online. When it comes to the number on the back of his credit card (Card Verification Code) that is always required at the end of a payment exercise, he has to look it up each time but autofill has helped with the rest of the form filling. This is once he has made sure that what he originally entered and saved in his browser is correct. Too many times he has had to retrace his steps due to typos and not seeing that the entry was incorrect. This is when he finds it is essential that the corrections needed are clearly highlighted and the instructions are helpful when he has to return to the form. He also feels that it is important that not all the data has been lost, as the more often he types in numbers etc. the more likely he is to make mistakes.

5.3 Challenge 3: Sharing online spreadsheets with colleagues.

At work, there are times when Jonathan has to share a spreadsheet with a colleague to ensure that the group’s accounts are in order, suppliers have been correctly invoiced and fees collected. The mass of numbers affects Jonathan’s ability to concentrate on the various areas on the spreadsheet. He has found that it helps to use colour coding, increased spacing and larger font sizes in order to pick out the various elements. Jonathan will often use the comment feature to add something that he feels his colleague needs to check rather than correcting the actual spreadsheet. If the document is saved as a PDF or presented in another format, Jonathan insists that it is easy to use with his text to speech program which helps him to check how the numbers need to be said and that he can annotate the contents when using his tablet, especially if he is presenting numbers at a meeting.

6. Frank – a retired lawyer with dementia

Frank retired from his law firm in his early 60s when he found he was forgetting important items that needed to be discussed in his complex case load. He found that he was forgetting material that he had just read, losing and misplacing objects and having trouble planning or organizing events.

6.1 Challenge 1: Managing dates and booking holidays.

Frank noticed that he had trouble with online calendars and booking flights and hotels when he was planning his summer holiday. He could not work out the way the dates had to be entered into the form and made mistakes with the month and day. If only there had been a good example or tool tip. He also found that when he was booking a flight the table that had the various lists of airports automatically entered the initials, which was very confusing when he was checking that everything was correct. Finally, there was the issue of making sure he booked the right number of nights for his hotel stay. He knew his arrival time at the airport was a day later than when he has set off but it would have helped to have had a calendar with colour and clear markings for the days in the week not just numbers.

6.2 Challenge 2: Coping with icons that are not recognisable.

Many web pages now have their own graphic icons and ways of indicating actions that need to be completed. Frank was having problems searching for information about a care home that he thought might help him in the future. He could not work out what the various options were when he came to fill out a form for his requirements. There appeared to be a series of small images beside the edit boxes, but the minute he began to write in the form the text explanation disappeared. He wanted the instructions to remain in place above the area where he was writing and for the box to be highlighted when he found he had missed some important sections.

6.3 Challenge 3: Support when using search engines.

Frank likes to surf the web for anything to do with fishing, his favourite hobby. However, he has found that the sheer number of items that appear when he types in a few words very confusing. Ideally he would like the number to reduced and perhaps have some way of seeing the items categorised in groups so that he can work out which services he needs. In this case it might also be helpful to have icons appearing when the groups are listed, so that for instance he can see articles about fly fishing in one section and sea fishing in another. Blocks of text with more white space around them would also be helpful so that he is not having to cope with such a mass of text.

7. George – works in a supermarket and has Down syndrome

George enjoys his job and lives semi-independently in a small town, where he can easily find his way to around. He has problems using the online systems at work, and needs help to search for suitable videos or music. However, George finds it hard to use search engines and navigate around websites.

7.1 Challenge 1: Using Symbols for communication

George used to use Makaton symbols and gestures when at school, but is able to communicate relatively easily now, although reading and writing remains a challenge. Surfing the web is hard when most interactions require text input but George likes to watch videos, find images and listen to music as well as playing games online. Friends have set up links with recognizable icons on his tablet and this has made it easy to visit his favourite sites. If recognisable symbols or icons could be used in more situations, George feels he would be able to reach more sites independently. There are search engines designed for children and these often use more images, but tend to be too childish for George’s taste.

7.2 Challenge 2: Understanding netiquette and its impact on social media sites

George has been told about surfing safely and not giving out personal information and is very lucky that his family have set up his Facebook and Skype account with various privacy settings. However, George finds the way emojis change or new icons keep appearing on his message systems rather confusing and does not always realize what some of them mean. He has sometimes selected an inappropriate symbol and then receives a rather short message from a friend in return that is upsetting. He finds it hard to explain what might have happened. He know there have been times when he really can’t choose the right symbol because it is too small and he finds it hard to accurately hit the spot. George is then very worried as he does not know how to unlike or change his symbol choice. Interacting with emojis and other symbols needs to be much easier for everyone with easy ways on enlarging these features on touch and undoing errors.

7.3 Challenge 3: Controls on videos and popup windows.

Using a mouse is not easy for everyone and double clicking can take time to learn. George has worked hard to improve his mouse skills by playing many onscreen games, but he still finds it hard to move accurately enough to skip ads on videos or to track down the close/exit method offered by some popup windows. Once again friends have come to the rescue and enabled an ad blocker extension for his browser, but this does not always capture all the ads or prevent George selecting the submit rather than a cross or exit button on a pop up. There have been times when George has downloaded malware without any second warning appearing or been unable to reach a site because he cannot find the small cross on a transparent popup window that overlays the main page.

8. Amy is a Computer Scientist who has Autism

Amy loves her computer science course and now programs in several languages. She has discovered she can visualize the outcome of her coding and is quick to find any errors even if they have not been highlighted. Documentation writing is less fun and she tends to be rather too concise which means some users do not receive enough help using her applications.

8.1 Challenge 1: Coping with poor layouts and illogical navigation

Being able to code your own websites can make you very critical of others! Amy finds that she often feels quite confused by some social media sites that have dynamically changing content with random messages and advertisements. She either avoids these sites or tends to try to personalize them by clearing away the clutter and choosing to hide sections. Navigation that does not follow a simple route across an entire site really annoys her, as she feels this does not help anyone. She also finds that the habit of having too much information on some pages means that important items may be missed, if there is no clear and logical structure.

8.2 Challenge 2: Changing colour schemes, flashing, blinking and automatic playing videos or music.

When a page loads and animations or videos play automatically this causes real problems for Amy. Sometimes, the movement can be very distracting and the sounds alarming. She has always found that sudden noises or something happening unintentionally has been a problem. When designing her own applications and websites she makes sure all the controls for animated objects or videos are very visible and do not start until the user has decided they wish to interact or view the object.

8.3 Challenge 3: Designs that make use of abstract imagery and metaphors

Amy is always concerned about communicating clearly and finds it hard when people ask her to create a design that includes abstract imagery. Images that do not directly represent something make Amy feel uneasy and she tends to ask if there can be some explanatory text in case other users are confused. On the other hand, a figure of speech where someone has written something that is not literal makes her wish that the writer would use easy to read content as it is hard to understand the concept of, for example the wheels of justice turning slowly.

9. Tom is a traumatic brain injury survivor

Tom was involved in a very serious car crash that left him with some physical, sensory and cognitive disabilities having sustained a brain injury. He has now returned to his old company as a researcher and is back using the internet throughout his working day.

9.1 Challenge 1: Using speech recognition to navigate the web

As Tom has dexterity difficulties he sometimes uses speech recognition to work through web pages as he finds this method the least tiring of all the possible input options. Although his speech is slow, he is able to control his computer using speech commands and dictation. It is quite easy to use simple commands to control websites, although there are times when he forgets some of the commands and has to use his cheat sheet. Tom likes the scroll commands that allow him to read slowly down a page without using any other input device and he can often retrace his steps as he has to reread items. However, there can be problems if the forms on the website are not labelled correctly or buttons do not have clear names. There are aspects of form filling that Tom has had help to personalize, but if an element is inaccessible via the keyboard, he has to use the mouse grid to interact with that part of the site. This is a slow process and can be frustrating as Tom finds he loses concentration.

9.2 Challenge 2: Screen glare and eye problems

The bright white of a screen makes Tom’s eyes feel very tired and he tends to use a virtual coloured overlay at times. This can successfully dull the overall view of a website, but problems arise if the pages have insufficient contrast levels and use small text because this affects readability. Difficulties also arise if the keyboard focus indicator is not visible as Tom moves around a site. Tom admits that he has become a slow surfer, but if a site is well designed and accessible, he usually copes and can still gather data as part of his job.

9.3 Challenge 3: Finding the right words to use for searching

Tom finds there are times when he spells words incorrectly and he appreciates support with error corrections or a system that accepts mistakes. He also has word finding problems when he is tired and search suggestions are welcomed, as are ideas that might be related to his search. However, too many results can cause concern and Tom admits he really cannot work his way through very long lists that have not been broken up with headings and categories.