Research based personas for Academic Online Platform

Client Completed My role
Cambridge University Press (CUP) June 2014 UX project Director


To support a major redesign of CUP’s Journals and Books platform with UX research and personas.


Capturing the project goals

We conducted 9 senior stakeholder interviews and 3 workshops to set a shared understanding of the project’s direction and focus.

Affinity mapping - during an early workshop
Affinity mapping – during an early workshop


UX research

We conducted more than 50 user interviews and conducted an online survey that was completed by more than 9,200 respondents. This allowed us to explore the current landscape of academic content publishing. I built up a list of hypotheses about user contexts, motivations and behaviours in our interviews, and was then able to validate (most of) these using our survey.

Some example research findings from our online survey
Some example research findings from our online survey



We reflected on our findings in a further stakeholder workshop – where we also began drafting our persona structure. These were then completed back in the studio and finally brought to life in glorious technicolour. A round of client feedback, resulted in some minor amends.

The personas were greeted by the CUP team who had helped to shape and create them.

Research report

We created a research report to document our process and the evidence gathered to underpin each persona. This was presented to top brass within CUP, as well as to all the teams who participated in workshops or interviews.


The work was very warmly received, and led to the commissioning of several more research projects (including another set of Personas for the Education branch of CUP).


“Andrew worked as the research lead for two major programmes I ran at Cambridge University Press, the second engagement being directly attributed to the impression Andrew and his Nomensa team gave from the first. He is highly knowledgeable in academic publishing and in user research – indeed the output of his research into key personas for The Press became a landmark piece of work that is still used 2 years on as a reference to our understanding of our customers. He is also articulate, being a great communicator, he is passionate about his work and, most importantly, very easy to get on with and engage with. I would work with Andrew again at the drop of a hat and can’t recommend him highly enough.”

Gary KirbyProgramme Manager at Cambridge University Press