GNOME Sample Scenarios

In the previous post I made up a fictional GNOME user Hannah. She is 38 years old and is an average user. Now let’s consider a few scenarios in which Hannah would use GNOME:

Scenario 1
Hannah works as an instructional designer, she develops engaging face-to-face and eLearning content. She also leads online workshops on learning technology for school teachers and instructional designers. Thus, at work Hannah often has to prepare and deliver presentations.

Scenario 2
Hannah has enthusiasm for her work and is continuously working on development of her skills. She is going to attend the annual conference in London next week. After the conference she plans to stay in London for another couple of days, and needs to know the weather forecast.

Scenario 3
Hannah often communicates with her friends Amber and Zoe. Amber lives in San Francisco, and Zoe travels a lot and lives in different parts of the world. Hannah wants to know current local time and date in different cities and countries to choose time for meetings with her friends.


These are the examples of why someone might use GNOME. In order to accomplish her goals, Hannah would have to use LibreOffice applications, clock, and weather.



In the beginning of design process we build user understanding, and use personas to define who our users are. Next step is to answer the question why they use our product. Here is where scenarios appear.

Scenarios are hypothetical stories that work together with personas. They describe the context behind why the particular persona would use our product or come to our website. 


Scenarios give insight into the user’s motivations and goals while using a system, and once we know their expectations, it becomes easier to make users satisfied.

How to use scenarios

Use scenarios during design to ensure that all participants understand and agree to the design parameters, and to specify exactly what interactions the system must support. Translate scenarios into tasks for conducting walk-through activities and usability tests.

GNOME Sample Personas

This post gives a couple of examples of GNOME personas. Personas are fictional characters that represent the different user types of a website or a product, you can read more about it in my previous post.

What kind of people I imagine when I think about typical Linux users:

  • a person who is not a developer and whose job is not connected with informational technology — somebody who just uses computer to browse the web, communicate with friends and family, browse music or photo library etc.
  • an advanced user — a software developer, or somebody who uses computer professionally, feels free using Terminal, has deep understanding of how OS, apps and hardware work.

Based on this I wrote two more detailed user persona descriptions that are meant to build better user understanding.
Meet Hannah and Dinesh 🙂


Age: 38

Gender: female

Location: Berlin, Germany

Occupation: Teacher and Instructional Designer

Personal Background:
For the last 14 years Hannah has been working as a teacher of English and Literature. Recently she has started working on learning design, as the school where she works began experimenting with blended learning model. Instructional design is her part-time job and a hobby. Hannah is very hardworking and loves both her jobs. She doesn’t have much free time, but every weekend she meets with her sons and their families.

Technology Comfort Level:
Hannah is an average user. She started using a computer at work, then she got a computer at home for her children, she got her personal computer about 10 years ago. At work she uses apps and web services to accomplish her tasks and communicate with colleagues. At home she just browses the web and does email. She is still not very confident when something goes wrong or she needs to use a new app or do a new task. When something goes wrong and she cannot fix it, she asks her sons or colleagues for help.

Use of GNOME:
Hannah works on a desktop computer running on Linux at school. It works well for her tasks and she doesn’t want to switch between different apps and file formats, so she asked her son to install the same operating system on her personal laptop. At work she mostly uses LibreOffice applications to design and develop content for courses, and Polari to communicate with her colleagues.


Age: 23

Gender: male

Location: Toronto, Canada

Occupation: Computer Science student at University of Toronto

Personal Background:
Dinesh is a 3rd year student. He is fond of technologies and programming since childhood. Currently he is looking to get a part-time job as a front-end developer. Dinesh’s hobby is robotics, — he builds a drone with his friend, and visits meetups for robotics enthusiasts. In his free time he watches series and reads.

Technology Comfort Level: Dinesh is an advanced user, he spends most of his time on the computer. During many years of active computer using he tried all operating systems and device configurations. Now he is using a desktop PC and a laptop, both running Linux.

Use of GNOME:
Apart from occasional use of popular GNOME apps available by default, he uses Boxes to test his work in different environments and gedit as a code editor.


When developing a product it is extremely important to understand the target users, know their pain points and their motivation. We can use our best judgment to make decisions on what is good for users, but we don’t always know what is best for them.

How do we ensure we create products tailor made for the specific needs and goals of our users? How do we know we provide good user experience for them?

The value of personas

Since real users can’t be there when the design process takes place, designers use personas — fictional characters that represent the different user types of a website or a product. In usability the purpose of personas is to build user understanding and evolve designs.

Personas focus on user goals, current behavior, and pain points. They are based on field research and real people. They describe why people do what they do in attempt to help everyone involved in designing and building a product understand and remember the end user throughout the entire product development process.

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Usually personas include the following key pieces of information:

  • Fictional name
  • Job titles and major responsibilities
  • Demographics such as age, education, ethnicity, and family status
  • The goals and tasks they are trying to complete using the site
  • Their physical, social, and technological environment
  • A quote that sums up what matters most to the persona as it relates to your site
  • Casual pictures representing that user group

Persona is the voice of the user. What can happen when we ignore it:

  • Everyone on the team has a different opinion about who we are designing for.
  • Team can’t agree on which features to prioritize.
  • Team spends time developing features that never get used.

Using personas throughout the design process

In short, the use of personas in the design process is what connects the product to the end user. However, personas are only half of the solution, and by themselves they don’t go very far. The secret sauce is personas + scenarios.

Scenarios, meanwhile, give a persona context and help us understand the main user flows. A scenario tells the story of how the product will be used in the future. The next step is to learn to create great scenarios, and I’ll cover this in one of my next posts.

Stay tuned!


What is Usability

First let’s make it clear what usability is and is not.

Usability is about people and how they understand and use products or systems, including websites, software, devices, or applications. It refers to the quality of a user’s experience, and assesses how easy user interfaces are to use.

Jakob Nielsen, a usability guru, defines usability by five quality components:
Learnability: How easy is it for users to accomplish basic tasks the first time they encounter the design?
Efficiency: Once users have learned the design, how quickly can they perform tasks?
Memorability: When users return to the design after a period of not using it, how easily can they reestablish proficiency?
Errors: How many errors do users make, how severe are these errors, and how easily can they recover from the errors?
Satisfaction: How pleasant is it to use the design?
― from Jakob Nielsen’s Usability 101

What usability is not

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Right, usability is not the same thing as user experience (UX).

UX is the wider perspective and usability is a part of UX. There is a trend to look at this relationship by subdividing UX into utility, usability, desirability and brand experience, as illustrated below.
ux-circle-v2 -edited2This topic is rather controversial, and there’s a lot of debate on it. Here are some links if you are interested:
Is UX the same as Usability?
The Difference Between UX And Usability

If you have a contrary opinion, feel free to share your thoughts in comments! I’d love to know what “usability” means to you 🙂

Hi Reader!

The best reason to start a blog is participating in Outreachy program 🙂

In my first post I’d like to give you some insight about the program and the project I’ll be working on.


Outreachy program is a welcoming link that connects newcomers with people working in Free and Open Source Software (FOSS).

GNOME and a number of FOSS organizations are offering paid, remote, mentored Outreachy internships. These internships are open internationally to all women, trans men, and genderqueer people, as well as to U.S. residents who belong to racial minority groups.

The internships activities are not limited to programming. They also include UX design, documentation, marketing, translation and other types of tasks needed to sustain a FOSS project.

There are two rounds during a year starting in December and May. Participants work remotely for three months and are asked to blog at least once every two weeks about their work.

Find out more about Outreachy here.


GNOME is an innovative free software desktop that is distributed with many free operating systems.

I’ll be working on the usability testing project under the mentorship of Jim Hall. Together with two other interns and with help of GNOME Design team we will work on making improvements in usability of GNOME and its applications.

I’ll keep you updated on the progress we make and share new things that I learn throughout the internship through posts on this blog.

Stay current!