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During the last decade, information system designers have used the persona technique to put user needs and preferences at the center of all development decisions. Persona development teams draw on qualitative data, quantitative data or a combination of both to develop personas that are representative of the target users. Despite the benefits of both approaches, qualitative methods are limited by the cognitive capabilities of the experts, whereas quantitative methods lack contextual richness. To gain the advantages of both approaches, this article suggests a mixed qualitative-quantitative approach to create user personas based on the patterns of the affordances they actualize rather than merely the actions they take. It enriches personas by referring to the purposes fulfilled through affordance actualizations, and it grounds personas in readily available objective log data. This study illustrates the practical value of the proposed methodology by empirically creating personas based on real user data. Furthermore, it demonstrates its value by having practitioners compare the suggested method to that of qualitative-only and quantitative-only methods.


This is the author's version of an article that has been published in IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering. The final version of record is available at

Recommended Citation

Mesgari, M., Okoli, C., Ortiz de Guinea, A. (2019). “Creating Rich and Representative Personas by Discovering Affordances.” IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, 45 (10), pp. 967–983.