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Persona Development for August 2008 - December 2009​ / Global Survey September 2010​

The Summary:

The Platform Team was interested in understanding more about the inner workings of environments where development was happening in order to inform a wide variety of the company’s platform-related efforts.


The creation of this set of persona artifacts was the first step taken to make enterprise product improvements for those in the ecosystem engaged in customization work for their instances. 


To further flesh out key details distinguishing Developers and Salesforce Administrators - and to rethink how to segment, describe, and label users in this domain space - a global survey was distributed to all individuals self-classifying as a Developer or Admin.

The Issues:

Given the administrative tasks surrounding the the preparation of customer site visits, including being at the mercy of customer availability, it was critical to properly scope the initial data gathering. We wanted to understand the dynamics and key roles but not spend inordinate amounts of time on exploratory interviews. With such a green field, we aimed to get to the heart of the barriers to success from all corners of the domain, including Administrators, Vendors, and Developers.

Methods Applied:



Field Research

Segmentation Survey

Primary Role:



User Research Lead


  • Senior Usability Analyst

  • Platform Product VP

  • Platform Product Directors

  • Design Manager


  • A breadth-focused understanding of primary end users, persona poster artifacts and a “day-in-the-life” media-rich presentation supplied to R&D for distribution and reference

  • A segmentation survey that specified details about experienced developers as well as Salesforce Administrators tasked with customization/development work

Research Details

Field Research - Segmentation Survey

1 Exploratory Field Research
Execute a systematic set of site visits to a defined set of customers and partners for 
qualitative interviews.
Exploratory field research was the first qualitative effort to define representative users in the domain, covering three contexts: internal development by enterprise customers, use of approved development vendors, and the world of the independent consultants. Participants were employed by customer IT departments and their vendors in three different geographic regions in the US. 

We discovered high degrees of complexity across enterprise orgs given the dynamic nature of an evolving product and platform. We also uncovered activity frankly difficult to categorize. Vendors, customers, and entrepreneurs alike saw the market opportunity to build, package, and sell custom apps on the AppExchange. Developers were acting administrators of their apps and custom orgs. Administrators were attempting to tackle advanced customizations for their Salesforce orgs. Vendor business was booming given the volume of Salesforce platform-based work and a shortage of skilled workers. In order to wrestle down the large volume of data, our North Star was the need to inform the growth and maturity of our platform tools as well as the training and resources available to customers. 

Images from the Field Research Phase Platform Personas - initial set
2 Global Segmentation Survey
Gather additional details through a global survey to define a more descriptive framework for users in the Admin/Developer domain. 
Field work results, in addition to some questionable market research data, inspired a segmentation survey to further support field research results, clarify details about developers, and explore the interface between Salesforce developers and administrators. This was a worldwide survey rollout with responses in the thousands. 
The DatStat survey tool supports advanced conditional logic, which allowed for the design and rollout of one survey covering all topics of interest.  Only relevant questions were disclosed based on initial responses establishing their experiences with the platform.
Header on the DatStat survey Edit screen
Survey results uncovered a significant degree of overlap between the roles of a Developer and an Administrator. More informative was to distinguish users based on background, aptitude, goals, and knowledge gaps they are trying to fill. For instance, a large proportion of Administrators were tasked with specific types of customization projects, were using the same tools and resources, and had the drive to learn despite not having formal training with programming.  Also, Developers were not to be pigeon-holed as only knowledgeable and experienced with development work. Often, they were riding the wave of lucrative work as consultants and were very familiar with Salesforce administration. 
The data set supported additional slicing and dicing in order to help answer questions from Project Managers about specific topics. 
Over time, more and more resources have emerged that support a wide variety of users tasked with building custom Salesforce UIs.
Facebook posting from 2012 announcing a development course geared toward Administrators

© 2017 by Peter Roessler.

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