Appendix B

Appendix B: Validating the needs and protections of the traveler personas

This appendix is to document the methods used, and the insights gained from the creation of the Seattle Department of Transportation TIIP personas. These personas are refined from the proto-personas, and informed by ethnographic studies carried out on behalf of the SDOT.


To understand user’s journey throughout the Seattle Area, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) sought the help of Story 2 Designs (S2D) in ethnographic methodologies. After consideration, S2D suggested a diary study to understand user behaviors over time, and to capture information that users may have had difficulty recalling outside of the environment.

SDOT was particularly concerned with how users accessed information in navigating Seattle, which methods they used to access transportation information, and how transportation information shaped their decisions on which mode they chose to navigate the city. While navigation was important in the study, focusing on information that participants used and were provided through a variety of information delivery systems (i.e. digital displays, bus signs, traffic alerts, etc.) was of key interest to the researchers.

Recruitment for the study was done with traditional outreach (flyers, in person recruitment) and digital methods (placing ads on Craigslist). Under the guidance of SDOT, particular attention was paid to the southern parts of Seattle for recruitment. In person recruitment was done at at bus stops around Mount Baker Transit Center and Pioneer Square. Online ads were placed on Craigslist centerting specific area codes (e.g. 98108, 98106, 98116).

The online screener for the study received over 200 respondents from around the city of Seattle. Respondents were selected by age, location, mode most frequently used, mobile ability, race, and ethnicity. An email was sent inviting respondents to participate in a week-long online study. 20 out of 30 respondents accepted becoming participants. Throughout the week, participant numbers were reduced to 18 due to lack of response.

All participants are keeping track of their daily trips through WhatsApp. WhatsApp presented several advantages, including being free for users to use, can maintain a variety of conversations at the same time, and is familiar with people of a variety of backgrounds, including immigrants, older users, and speakers of non-English.

Story 2 used a snippet technique for the data gathering with participants Snippet technique is a less intrusive method for logging activities. With this technique, participants only record short snippets of information about activities as they occur. Then, at the end of each day, or when participants have time, they elaborate on each snippet by providing additional details about the activity. This 2-step technique ensures that relevant information is captured in situ, before being forgotten but without requiring participants to provide extensive detail at the time of capture, which can be intrusive and unnatural in certain situations.

The SDOT TIIP diary study was conducted throughout the latter half of October, allowing the team to build a representative population of those who use the Seattle’s transportation pathways and transportation information delivery systems. The goal was to understand the users’ goals, motivations and, tasks to be done.

Users were prompted three times of day with the following text:

  • Where did you go?
  • How did you get there?
  • What information did you use to get there?
  • Why did you go this way?

After a week of data collection from the 18 participants, researchers used a Grounded Theory approach to analyze the participant generated data. Grounded Theory is an approach for developing theory that is “grounded in data systematically gathered and analyzed” (Strauss & Corbin, 1994).

Snippets were analyzed for general themes according to mode of transportation and information needs. Additionally, visual analysis was performed on multimedia artifacts (i.e. pictures, videos) that were user generated.


There are many pieces of information that users take into consideration when planning their trips throughout Seattle. Users are concerned with the most optimal route within these factors. From research, these are the factors that all user types take into consideration when planning their trips.


  • Distance of destination from point of origin
  • Familiarity with the area
  • Weather Conditions
  • Time of day
  • Traffic Conditions
  • Time needed to get to destination
  • Transportation Mode
  • Cost of mode
  • Duration of trip

When considering a trip throughout Seattle, users will use a variety of information delivery systems in determining these factors. In exchange for using these delivery systems, users will provide several pieces of information (e.g. their current location, the mode of travel they want to use, their destination, credit card information, and the mode desired) to seek the most optimal route for the trip.

The most common information delivery systems users identified were:

  • King County Metro Trip Planner
  • Apple Maps
  • Google Maps
  • Waze
  • Digital Displays
  • Bus Displays
  • Road Signs
  • Bus schedules
  • Posted at bus stops
  • Paper schedules within buses

Users rely on information from real time applications (Apple Maps, Google Maps) as they are going to and from their destinations, even if they are familiar with their route. Users become more reliant from outside sources comes when they are unfamiliar with the environment or destinations.

Based on these general insights, several unique personas can be crafted, these personas are mode agnostic, since the research found that users will take several modes throughout their day, depending on a variety of factors.


Persona 1: The Neighborhood Local

Job: Freelancer

Travels: Mostly around the neighborhood

Primary Mode: Walking, Bike

Secondary Modes: Rideshares

Key Considerations:

  • Knows their neighborhood very well
  • Has fixed routes they travel
  • Travels outside of neighborhood for specific things (i.e. groceries, supplies, vacations.)

Information Needs:

  • Needs to know when construction duration in the neighborhood;
  • Needs to know typical if typical routes are obstructed;
  • Needs to know when buses are coming;
  • Needs to know where shared bikes are within the neighborhood;

Persona 2: 9-to-5er

Job: Office Worker

Travels: Across Seattle (from one neighborhood to another)

Primary Mode: Bus, Bike, Car

Secondary Modes:

If primary mode is down will opt for a new mode (if primarily mode is private, will opt for public; if primarily mode is public, will opt for private.)

Key Considerations:

  • Knows their route to and from work very well, but doesn’t know Seattle very well
  • Has a Monday through Friday, business hours lifestyle.
  • Primarily sticks to their neighborhood during the weekdays, explores Seattle and the surrounding areas during the weekend;
  • Makes up the majority of travelers during the week;

Information Needs:

  • Needs to know traffic conditions;
  • Needs to know weather conditions;
  • Needs to know where the nearest bus stops are;
  • Needs to know when events (constructions, games, etc.) affect traffic conditions;
  • Needs to know toll routes;

Persona 3: The Long Hauler

Job: Professional Driver

Travels: Around Seattle (throughout the city)

Primary Mode: Car

Secondary Modes:

If primary mode is down will opt for a new mode (if primarily mode is private, will opt for public; if primarily mode is public, will opt for private.)

Key Considerations:

  • Travels during the day throughout Seattle.
  • Driving and traveling is a key part of their duties throughout the day.
  • Knows Seattle and the routes they need to travel very well. Will know alternatives to their routes from trial and error.
  • Travels upwards of 10 – 20 miles of day minimum.

Information Needs:

  • Needs to know traffic and weather conditions;
  • Needs to route closures;
  • Need to know optimal routes to get around Seattle;
  • Need to know travel times to and from different directions;
  • Needs to know toll and bridge fees;

These three personas make up the most of the people traveling throughout Seattle. While there are many ways that one can look at the data, the information considerations for most of the modes of the travel are similar across the different modes. Here are additional two personas to consider

Persona 4: The Explorer

Job: Student

Travels: Around Seattle

Primary Mode: Walking, Bus, Train, Rideshare

Secondary Modes:

If primary mode is down will opt for a new mode (if primarily mode is private, will opt for public; if primarily mode is public, will opt for private.)

Key Considerations:

  • Does not know where anything is within Seattle.
  • Excited to know the city and understand how it works.
  • Explores Seattle mostly on foot, uses bus when needs to;

Information Needs:

  • Needs to know where the different modes stop are;
  • Needs to know how much the modes costs;
  • Needs to know when they arrive at their destination correctly;
  • Needs to know travel norms around the city;
  • Needs to know the difference between different travel modes;
  • 64 SDOT Transportation Information Infrastructure Plan
  • Needs to know the schedule;
  • Needs to know the distance from one destination to another;
  • Needs to know local resources in the area;

Some of the needs of cyclists themselves are unique and stood out from the people who took other transportation modes. While there are some that overlap, there was enough unique characteristics here to form their own persona.

Persona 5: The Cyclist

Job: Program Coordinator

Travels: Across Seattle

Primary Mode: Bike, Walk, Rideshare

Secondary Modes:

If primary mode is down will opt for a new mode (if primarily mode is private, will opt for public; if primarily mode is public, will opt for private.)

Key Considerations:

  • Bike is primarily mode of transportation;
  • Uses ride share option when bike is not available;
  • Walks around the city with hill grades are too steep;

Information Needs:

  • Needs to know the best bike routes around the city;
  • Needs to know about the different bike routes;
  • Needs to know weather conditions;
  • Needs to know how far a new destination is off their routes;

These five personas are refined from research and the proto-personas presented in the SDOT TIIP.

Need More Information?

This is a draft plan. It was developed by Benjamin de la Pena, Mary Alyce Eugene, Alex Hagenah, and Sam Marshall along with their colleagues from across the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT).

If you have questions about this plan, please send us email via

If you have questions about SDOT, please visit our website at

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