Who We Are Building For

In the early discussions of this project with Superfriendly, Dan Mall encouraged that we start this project by doing user research. They wanted to talk with 15-20 people who would be using the end product. While I’ve read lots about the value of research, in the many years I have worked on the web, I’ve never been involved in a project that formalized it as part of the process.

During the time leading up to the launch of the project, I created a list of people within the Adventist church who would use this product, from decision makers, to people adding content to the site. We wanted to include input from a variety of people in different roles around the world.

Over the course the next 4 weeks, Rob Adams and Crystal Vitelli interviewed 25 different people. The list of participants included communication directors, web developers, pastors, volunteers, and more. We talked with people at all levels of the church, from the General Conference office, to divisions, unions, conferences, and local churches.

The Results

Throughout the course of the interviews, four distinct personas were developed.

Sarah Lafferty1. Sarah works as a Communication Director for a regional department within the Adventist hierarchy. She spends the most time of anyone on staff on website maintenance, but it’s still a relatively small part of her job. A lot of her pain is around how long it takes to make changes to the site. Sarah isn’t very happy with the current design or her content management system, but fixing it is a daunting, expensive challenge.


Simon White2. Simon is a developer — often a consultant — who works with Sarah as well as other website administrators throughout the Adventist Church. He’s fairly technical: deeply familiar with HTML and CSS, proficient with Javascript and jQuery, and has recently started working with SASS and Compass. Simon supports many websites and has little time to spend building them, and even less for maintaining them.


Jorge3. Jorge is Digital Media Manager, and his role is similar to Sarah’s and many of his goals overlap with hers. However, unlike Sarah, Jorge works for an externally-facing mission that is tasked with outreach to Adventists and non-Adventists alike. Jorge shares many of Sarah’s concerns about the difficulty of making updates, ensuring information is easy to find, etc. Additionally, he has a lot of pain around sharing information within the Adventist Church.


Paul and Evelyn4. Paul is a pastor at a mid-sized local church. He’s familiar enough with technology from a user perspective, but he knows very little about HTML, CSS, and other underlying web technologies. Evelyn is a volunteer who works with Paul, and is no more familiar with web technologies than he is, but is the most tech-savvy of the volunteers.


You can download the complete persona document if you want to read about these people, their goals, pain points and technology needs.

How This Guides Us

The results of the interviews have shaped the goals and objectives of this phase of the product. We have chosen to focus primarily on Sarah and Simon, the two users who will benefit the most at this phase.

And as we move forward and encounter questions, we can ask ourselves   “What would Sarah do?” “How would Simon react?” Jorge, Paul and Evelyn will still be considered, but primarily we will work to help Sarah and Simon.

And at the end of the day, remember that the personas aren’t just about some fake names. They are to help us focus on you!

We would love hear from you, so please let us know what you think about what we are doing!


  • | April 19, 2016 at 8:57 am


    I’m quite excited about what you are doing and it seems that you are taking the steps in a professional way in the right direction. I fit the “Simon” category in your user personas. Although I am currently transitioning from a full time developer into a full time minister.

    The pattern library would have been very helpful when I engaged in a church website overhaul project last summer, but I am sure it will be of great help for our union in the future. I look forward to seeing the fruits of your labour and being able to multiply those to where we desperately need them!

    If there is any possibility of having the final pattern library posted on e.g. Github, that would be the cherry on the cake for me 🙂

    Keep up the good work, and blessings to the whole team behind this initiative!

    • | April 19, 2016 at 9:06 am

      Thanks for your comments, Glen! I think you will be happy because we will be putting all this on GitHub! And since we are building this to be used and adapted, anyone will be welcome to contribute to the patterns.

  • | April 19, 2016 at 10:33 am

    Thanks Brent! Good to hear!

  • | April 28, 2016 at 5:38 pm

    I fit the Sarah persona but maybe less tech-savvy. I’m supposed to be working on transitioning from an old to new website and have procrastinated on it because it’s just too daunting knowing the time it takes to make changes. The website is only an extremely small portion of what I do so it keeps being put on the backburner which I’m not happy about as I know presence on the internet is becoming more important by the day! Hope you can help me.

    • | April 28, 2016 at 5:48 pm

      I sure hope we can help you, Melissa! You sound just like the “Sarah” persona. Please signup to get updates and we will keep you in the loop as things progress!

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