UX - User Stories - Who are Tor users?

Initially we were gonna do personas, but we haven't made them yet, so we'll be sharing user stories

There is a lot of information about users right now, and I would like to organize that in a way that we can make personas

Personas: (a tool to communicate to other teams what we're doing, the people we're working & designing for)

Aim for the session: find patterns in our users - who are these people, what are their realities/contexts - and how can we make these into personas?

S: We've seen a need to have more personal narratives talking about positive use cases - we want these stories to come from the people experiencing these things (as long as they can share safely)

Use case stories:

  • ppl living in Iran, using Tor for censorship circumvention - not necessarily activists, just ppl who want to get online
    • this feels like a common scenario - average people who just want to use the internet, twitter, blocked sites

A: Yeah, these feel like the big uses of Tor... and these people are not necessarily technical, not super users - just ppl wanting to use Youtube.

  • And for these people (censored), they often have the hardest onboarding experience to get online!! We want to make this easier for them
  • also ppl looking for privacy

S: I think there are about 3 different categories that ppl fall into: Protection against...

  • censorship
    • more specific : what do you do after you get online?
  • tracking
  • surveillance

P: When are we going to make them, and where are the people coming from?

  • are personas going to be based on region, or based on use case (i.e. activist, journalist, general, etc)

A: Diversity needs to be taken into consideration - region, pronoun usage... we're answering a political question, so we need to keep that in mind

S: We also need to consider keeping things simple (at least at first)

  • Start with regular internet user in different countries, then activists in different countries, then abuse survivors in multiple countries...

A: categories in mind: Activist, Journalist, Citizen...

  • we also need to think about how diverse we're gonna go in terms of technical backgrounds - super users, normal users, etc

  • we're finding patterns in users so we can tell their stories efficiently
  • the number of ppl using Tor just for fun is much lower than the number of people who use Tor because they need it
  • we have a lot of this research already, but we want to establish a framework to use in future research, and also to create the actual personas...
  • designing the personas to look like real people... with genders, languages, families, ages, hobbies, jobs...
  • we had a family use case come in, a dad with daughters... they want their daughters to be able to search for private things safely
  • a gay Colombian boy with religious parents, wanting to meet LGTBQ+ friends online without outing himself to his family
  • we also have domestic violence cases
  • we have been meeting real people and hearing their real stories! We want to share this while protecting their identities. We want people to connect with these people.
  • let's go deep on these bios!
  • making your own circuit to avoid tracking on your own phone

So, categories to break down:


  • journalist, activist, researcher, citizen, politician, government, law enforcement, etc...

Tech level

  • super user?
  • tech novice?

Mindset - Mission Alignment - Knowledge & Background

  • comfort with technology, understanding of their own political context
  • is this part of tech level or context?
  • understanding of general topics - understanding that you need privacy online, even if you don't know how to use Tor or encryption or anything
  • philosophy, guiding principle...


  • defines context of infrastructure - access to internet - speed, reliability, physical location limitations... laptop v mobile... price of internet
  • online versus offline communities
  • we can use OONI reports to find this info
  • people using Tor at school

Risk level

  • what happens if Tor doesn't work, or if the person doesn't have Tor? What's at stake?


  • what is their primary use of Tor? Cirvumention, web hosting tool (onion services)... Tails? What do you actually do once you're on Tor?


  • you do different things on different devices... want Youtube on phone, but something else on laptop...
  • how much RAM do their devices have? What OS are people using?

How they found out about Tor, and how they learned to use it...

  • this can be very helpful in learning how we can educate new people
  • are these people connected to other Tor users?

Community involvement

  • are people involved in Tor communities? How did they find out about Tor? How do they use Tor in their communities? How long do they continue use Tor?
  • political contexts? (does this belong in this topic?)


  • !!!

Level of Trust

  • does the person trust Tor?
  • does the person trust their government?
  • does the person trust their ISP? Their cell phone provider?

Next Steps:

  • start by listing these things, find which stories match with each other... find common topics.
  • figure out how we're going to research this - how do we find out how much ppl trust Tor Project?
  • draw in info from academic papers
  • use demographic info that we've already collected
  • take info from Metrics - what countries, how long ppl use Tor... use Metrics to validate the things we're talking about
  • take info from Firefox research
  • take info from User Advocate
  • take stories from Tor Blog
  1. List things
  2. Decide what info to collect
  3. Collect research
  4. Combine research into stories

Big goal: In the next meeting, personas are DONE, ready to go!!

How these will be used:

-Community team can use this info to make brochures for specific personas! Will help us to better communicate with & reach people in certain contexts -This information will help us across all of our teams! -Used to flesh out stories used by communications teams -Thinking about personas before we give talks, presentations - make sure to keep diverse groups of people in mind!!

How many do we need?

-Initially, 5 (or one per role; pick one element and provide a persona for different bits of this)

Last modified 2 years ago Last modified on Oct 2, 2018, 8:55:22 PM