Who's the Customer?

Who is the target user for our non-professional tools? In order to make smarter decisions about what we build, we need to understand that the customer we’re building this product for doesn’t fit a single profile. Off the top of my head, I can think of five personas/stereotypes:

  • “Jay,” the professional developer by day and hobbyist by night who may spend time helping friends build their Web sites or work on a game he hopes to sell online.
  • “Moira,” the middle-school student who has a high aptitude for math and science and is interested in learning to program but doesn’t have a set curriculum in school.
  • “Trevor,” the middle-aged accountant who’s a whiz at Excel macros and wants to learn more both as a hobby and maybe to help at work.
  • “Alexa,” the CS student in college who has a full course load but is also interested in building applications and Web sites both as a demonstration of skills and to learn.
  • “Heloise,” the system administrator who is interested in learning how to customize Windows to help at work.

Given ten more minutes, I could come up with another half dozen.

This is important because today’s Express products service all these customers. The general appeal of Express has helped boost the download numbers, but at some point it will start to pull the product apart as we have to decide which customer we’re aiming for – the professional LAMP developer, the computer science student using C++, or the hobbyist interested in building games.