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Mobile Personas

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The United States Mobile Personas is a Wikimedia Foundation project aiming to evaluate mobile readers and contributors' assumptions, behaviors, interactions and reactions to the various modes of interaction users can have with Wikipedia on mobile. Mobile personas were ultimately created after analysis and synthesis of collected user data points and experiences.

If you have questions or comments about this particular project or are interested in collaborating with us, we'd love to hear from you! You can use the talk page here or contact Margeigh Novotny and Daisy Chen directly.


The Reading team hoped to gain insights regarding user behaviors specific to the mobile use of Wikipedia. Due to time and budget constraints, this round of research was limited to the United States only (usage statistics support an initial U.S.-focus). In the interest of providing mobile personas that are of high value to mobile-focused teams, users from across all mobile platforms were included (mobile browsers and native apps on both Android and iOS devices). Participants were recruited from the existing user base and social media outreach was also done to ensure various demographics and other user dimensions were represented.

Research findings[edit]

Mobile Personas Final Report

We developed the following findings/patterns from our research; for much more detail, see the full report.

Downloading the app

  • iPhone users tended to be unaware of the existence of an app, or needed a compelling reason to download apps, and were very aware of memory space on their phones.


  • iPhone owners were very quick information viewers, often using Wikipedia while in transit, and mentioned scanning articles “in the moment”.
  • Android users mentioned that they use Wikipedia to aid in their daily work in order to look up technical information or research. They were more likely to download the app than iPhone users.


  • Overall, participants would like more organization with a “cleaner” interface that's more visually appealing.
  • Existing features that people felt were critical to keep in Wikipedia were sources (making sure those links work), the ability to quickly move through article topics, bookmarking or saving for later, robust search (with a clear disambiguation page), and an article preview.
  • There were lots of awareness issues, as many participants requested features that already exist.
  • Some customizations that were requested that do not currently exist: Google Assistant integration, the ability to select the font (request of a visually impaired user), and a better way to view the browsing history.


  • Across participants, there was a perception that editing has changed throughout the years and has been well-established.
  • Generally, participants feel that Wikipedia provides unbiased information, assume editors are volunteers, and think there are different types/levels of editors.
  • Many participants did have a fear of editing and the majority had not done it before, or had and then seen their edits quickly deleted or rejected.
  • When asked for reasons why they didn't contribute, many mentioned lacking the confidence that they would have enough knowledge or sources to back up their content.
  • iPhone users were aware of editing but had a low awareness of how it's done. These users would be most likely to edit on their phones if they were prompted to answer questions, to correct minor grammar or typos, or to check sources.
  • Android users were also unlikely to edit on a phone because the interface was too confusing (markup is too complicated), their keyboard is too small, and they don't have the ability to save drafts of edits.


  • For participants, there were varying levels of trust in Wikipedia.
  • Those that had high trust in content said that citations and sources were key to their trust.
  • When distrust of Wikipedia content did come up, it was often in relation to articles that were short, news articles, and articles relating to politics or political figures.

Personas and User Journey[edit]

We developed the following personas and key characteristics from our research; for more detail, see the list of mobile personas here.

Mobile Personas


Persona A - ​“Doesn’t know anything about editing on a phone”


  • Reads briefly or deeply
  • Doesn't know a Wikipedia app exists


  • More frequent reading
  • Higher awareness of Wikipedia and brand awareness
  • Drive this user to download the app

Persona B - ​“Reads briefly and has low editing confidence in general”


  • Uses Wikipedia to prove a point during an argument/looks up facts quickly
  • Overwhelmed or scared of the phone editing interface
  • High concern about deletion of contributions


  • More frequent reading
  • Conversion from low confidence of editing to comfortable editing

grammar and/or typos

  • Teach and show user how to edit (editor training)

Persona C - “​ Reads topics and would only edit typos or grammar on a phone”


  • Doesn't feel like a topic expert
  • Goes straight to Wikipedia for information
  • Only comfortable editing small text errors on mobile
  • App user, but not always sure whether or not they're in the app or


  • Habitually starts on the browser with the intention of going to


  • Less concerned about deletion of contributions
  • Low awareness of editing policies


  • More frequent editing
  • Convert them to an advocate of Wikipedia
  • Create an awareness of other small editing behaviours (photo capabilities)

Persona D - ​“Reads selectively and edits ‘live’ or in the moment to articles”


  • App user - and knows that they're in the app
  • Proud of contributions
  • Awareness of app features
  • Feels like an app expert
  • Not a deep reader
  • Not concerned about deletion of contributions


  • Make them evangelize
  • Drive user to deeper editing of others ephemeral content
  • Drive them to edit related evergreen content
  • Draw them deeper into the Wikipedia community

Persona E - “​ Reads deeply and would edit on a phone if it were easier”


  • Has had experience with editing on desktop
  • Invested in content
  • Feels like a subject matter expert
  • Has more time to potentially add knowledge gaps to content
  • Awareness and confidence in the Wikipedia process/ecosystem
  • Awareness of ‘flagging’
User Journey


  • Get them to edit on a phone
  • Get them to edit frequently
  • Influence them to teach what they know about Wikipedia to others
  • Bridge to the community
  • Build awareness of full process

User Journey[edit]

From the research, a user journey map was also developed to visually indicate Wikipedians' various potential starting points on mobile, their potential for evolution over time, and the possible pain points and/or blockers that could hinder said evolution/progress.

Research methodology[edit]

Our design research was conducted with the help of a firm called Logic Department.

The process began with Logic Department thoroughly reviewing past data and research relevant to Wikipedia mobile use. Using this data, internal Foundation stakeholder interviews were conducted to collect their knowledge, beliefs and assumptions about mobile users and their expectations of Wikipedia.

Internal alignment on the personas project priorities, goals and interests was then addressed through stakeholder surveys and a remote meeting. Stakeholders were asked to discuss and 'vote' on recruitment priorities and user interview focus areas.

Following this, participant recruitment and scheduling nterviews were underway with collaboration and assistance from Foundation staff from the Audiences, Communications, and Legal teams. Existing participants were contacted and the recruitment was pushed on social media.

After participant interviews were completed, Logic Department and Foundation project administrators worked together to analyze and synthesize data and findings from the research sessions.

For more details, see the full report.

Research session transcripts[edit]

What's next[edit]

A similar mobile personas project is underway in India. Our goal with this follow-up project is to better understand our mobile users in geographic locations other than the United States and to inform our products continually with these user insights.


WMF project administrators:

  • Margeigh Novotny, Senior Director of Design Strategy
  • Daisy Chen, design researcher

WMF additional stakeholders:

  • Nirzar Pangarkar, Design Manager
  • Rita Ho, Senior User Experience Designer
  • Alex Hollender, User Experience Designer
  • Carolyn Li-Madeo, User Experience Designer
  • Abigail Ripstra, Lead Design Researcher
  • Joaquin Hernandez, Senior Software Engineer
  • Charlotte Gauthier, Product Manager
  • Anne Gomez, Senior Program Manager

WMF collaborators:

  • Melody Kramer, Senior Digital Audience Manager
  • Aubrie Johnson, Social Media Associate
  • Jacob Rogers, Senior Legal Counsel
  • James Buatti, Legal Counsel
  • Aeryn Palmer, Senior Legal Counsel II

Logic Department team:

  • Sam Raddatz, Owner and Lead Information Architect
  • Paige DuPont, Research Specialist/Information Architect
  • Gina Kosty, Research Assistant
  • Clair Rock, Junior Information Architect

See also[edit]