Holistic personas and reflective concepts for software engineers

Farshid Anvari, Hien Minh Thi Tran

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


In a small to medium sized organisations, managements' understanding of the complexity of the Information Technology (IT), software applications' usability and lead time needed to build a new application is limited. Often these organisations do not have comprehensive understanding of the new market due to inadequate market research. To design and develop a new software application, software engineers elicit requirements, ideally from end users, but the end users and stakeholders are often unavailable. User-Centred Design (UCD) is a methodology used to develop applications that consider the goals of the users as a primary requirement. Personas, archetypical users, and scenarios, the interaction of personas with the application to achieve goals, are tools used within UCD methodology. Software engineers can deduce the application requirements from personas and scenarios. Hence the closer the persona represents the end user, the more usable the resultant software application will become. Holistic Persona, a persona with five dimensions: factual, personality, intelligence, knowledge and cognitive process, seeks to more closely resemble the end user. Reflection-inaction, reflection on the spontaneous thinking that is happening during a task, Reflection-on-action, reflection after the task is over, Reflection-for-action, reflection done to gain knowledge for a similar future task, enhances the skills of software engineers while designing a new software application. Reflective capacity is regarded by many as an essential characteristic for professional competence. In this paper we explore the research question: how can software engineers apply UCD methodologies and reflective concepts in designing and developing new software applications? Through two case studies, we provide insights into the applications of UCD methodologies and reflective concepts in software engineering for development of a new application. We present our experiences during design and development of the applications and lessons learnt from the projects. We speculate how Holistic Personas and scenarios would have resulted in speedier development and improvements in the quality of the end products. Case one is about engineering an idea into an e-health software application at a research-intensive Australian university. Case two is about engineering a system and an application to provide automated program guide, news, sport highlights, short feature films and weather published on an Australian national broadcasting services' website for the multi-channel digital television system. Both applications were green-field developments with no past histories of a similar application to model for their design and development.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 8th European Conference on Information Management and Evaluation, ECIME 2014
Place of PublicationReading, UK
PublisherAcademic Conferences and Publishing International
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9781910309414
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Event8th European Conference on Information Management and Evaluation, ECIME 2014 - Ghent, Belgium
Duration: 11 Sept 201412 Sept 2014


Other8th European Conference on Information Management and Evaluation, ECIME 2014


  • Empathic design
  • Holistic Persona
  • Reflective practices
  • Scenarios
  • User-centred design


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