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author's profile photo Lutz Rottmann

Proposal for a design persona that was probably forgotten when designing SAP Community

Hi all,

it is hard to propose singular ideas for a platform that looks so broken for me personally.

I would propose the following persona for the design team to improve the design accordingly. I think this persona is kind of representing loads of people here - just exchange the knowledge domain and acronyms. I try not to use old SCN wording or new Community wording as far as possible with the intention not to cause prejudice. My impression is that this kind of persona represents lots of well meaning and valuable people but has been fully forgotten when designing the new community.


"Senior knowledgeable subject of matter expert (5+ years) for certain domains (e.g. Network Security and Single Sign On technologies on all platforms like ABAP, JAVA, HANA, BO, extending his knowledge to Cloud stuff). After consultancy positions now working at an SAP customer. Enjoying to help others by quite regularly answering open questions from his domain. Always under pressure to deliver his work and feed mouths at home. Once in a while (once per week) searching for news on his subjects of matter. Once in a while (once per month) doing research trying to avoid filing an incident.

His contribution is triggered by taking either 10 minutes time of his break with a coffee after lunch (answering questions) or by some urgency (important information published, e.g. security notes) or when in need of some information himself.

When not finding information himself he will get in contact with some SAP employees he knows or create an incident.

He is always thinking about writing his first blog but does not because there is not enough time left.

He will only skim introductory documentation on how to use a platform but will rely on in-place help when needed. He never read any how-tos on Amazon, Ebay and Facebook and always got away with it without major problems.

Update 3: His main position is that he (well his company) is paying SAP millions and it is SAP that should deliver and not him. His motivation to use the community is to help other poor worms like himself, hunt for expert knowledge, learn about interesting people and pray for product managers to pick up his ideas.

He feels in need of support to:

  • find questions to answer for subjects he can add value to (e.g SNC, HTTPS, TLS, SSL, X.509, Ciphers, SAP SSO, ICM, Kerberos, SAML2, fiori) (this would go to some kind of overall activity stream).
  • add contributions of interesting people to the stream
  • make some interesting people (lets call them friends) aware of a certain content
  • alert him on new blogs and posts for one or several subsets (!) of his subjects or people (via E-Mail / Notification)
  • alert him on reactions to his own content (via E-Mail / Notification)
  • refine his search and filters and subscriptions easily and make them al persistent for reuse
  • get an overview over what is new to a certain subject since his last visit (e.g. one week ago) on first sight
  • classify certain kinds of updates as interesting or spam (spam would probably be up-vote/down-vote/like, edit, close etc. for foreign threads)
  • feel sure that he classified a question correctly to address the correct audience when posting a question himself
  • be rewarded by distinguishing his profile from others for his high quality contribution

What he dislikes because it feels painfully inefficient (causing him allergic pimples and high blood pressure):

  • pages with nearly no valuable content on first screen but lots of large headlines, empty spaces, useless large iconic pictures, large fonts, ...) causing scroll wheel arthrosis
  • being spammed e.g. by up-vote/down-vote/like/close information for threads with no own involvement in his activity stream.
  • full page refresh with scroll position reset on minor activities (follow, like etc.)
  • not being able to directly navigate precisely to the update that was advertised in his activity stream / notification
  • Getting error messages without getting a hint why and how to prevent
  • Disrupted threads being in disorder because of misleading default sort order or strange time stamps (moderator time stamp instead of author time stamp, up-vote/down-vote time stamp, time stamp of minor correction (e.g. typo)
  • not being able to see on first sight which subjects he subscribed to
  • not being able to fully leverage browser tabs because of navigation done by JavaScript
  • Not being able to identify when shown on screen: what is a community page? What is a Tag? What is just a headline?
  • Not being able to identify on first sight what he already has done (Did I follow/upvote/like this item already?)"
  • Update 1: preview of long contribution not being collapsed in item list
  • Update 2: editors that pretend to be WYSIWYG but are not and that automatically clean out empty lines which are needed for proper formatting of paragraphs

Let us help SAP by shaping this persona or to develop more of them (e.g. an intensive blogger) to make their design goals clearer. What do you think?

Regards, Lutz

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  • Oct 13, 2016 at 09:42 AM

    I haven't read you whole post yet, but it made me wish (again) they wouldn't show the whole content of a discussion in the overview list. ^^

  • Oct 13, 2016 at 10:06 AM

    Hi Lutz,

    thanks for the good laugh you give me :)
    And I'm not laughing at your post which is really really really interesting, but about SAP: they keep pushing over us again and again and again how important are the Fiori Concepts, the Prototyping of the solutions, to identify the right Personas (just try any Open Sap courses a bit more technical to undestand it) and then... it seems they do not apply their own suggestions :p

    • Oct 13, 2016 at 12:50 PM

      Hi Simone,

      in my eyes SAP had quite a good track record of usability in the years after 2000 (after the Enjoy SAP and the Enterprise Portal Content projects). The established UX processes seemed to work properly. Fiori was one of the outcomes and a great approach for mobile and occasional user functionality.

      But the last developments make me frown:

      • Trying to pack a whole company's functionality into square tiles on one flat page (calling it Fiori Launchpad) neglecting the value of and need for hierarchical taxonomies
      • Pulling a mobile UI framework for occasional users over every typical power user's desktop functionality (with Fiori UIs on S4/HANA)
      • Launching a new Support Launchpad that neglected complexity of everyday life and ignored typical user's needs
      • Repeating the same error again with SAP Community

      Currently I am really afraid for SAP. Honestly.

    • Oct 13, 2016 at 08:04 PM

      Simone, my thoughts exactly - after touting the "persona" approach in Fiori course such an epic fail on SCN.

      Lutz - excellent post, really enjoyed it. Apart from never posting the first blog it's pretty much me, me, and me again. I'm not even going to give you hard time for using "he/him" because that's exactly what we were taught in the Fiori course: persona needs to be specific, even down to gender.

      "He never read any how-tos on Amazon, Ebay and Facebook and always got away with it without major problems." - +100 to that, it was said many times that if a website requires reading a manual then something is wrong with the website.

      • Oct 14, 2016 at 08:15 AM

        Hi Jelena, when the persona concept was introduced to SAP's development teams by Alan Cooper in the late 90-ties I was one of the developers there. That's why I am so bewildered by what is going on at SAP today.

  • Oct 13, 2016 at 11:33 AM

    Excellent idea! Even if SAP employees don't read or understand the persona, it is a fun thing to build together :)

    A little bit from my side:

    Thinks of himself as tech-savvy. He is very concerned about data protection and privacy and starts to foam at the mouth at the very idea of any company using his data for marketing purposes. Uses Adblock and NoScript in private browsing mode.

    He is paying his own mobile phone bill and when he uses a company one, he is pays all charges when his mobile data limit is exceeded.

    He feels in need of support to:

    • Use the website basic functionality without permanent white-listing of sites other than He is willing to trade off some of the bells and whistles for what he considers as healthy browsing habits.
    • Find relevant content only based on search criteria and his profile settings. (He does not mind spending 5-10 minutes to configure his profile once, but he wants that these preferences are retained and respected no matter which browser or device he uses).
    • To use a 'light' website option, which uses less data, when he is on a business trip abroad.
  • Oct 13, 2016 at 12:52 PM
    Great post Lutz! Read the whole thing but this point is one that really irks me. Been saying this for months as have others (wasted white space, crappy layout, and other slightly less complimentary comments I have seen).
    • pages with nearly no valuable content on first screen but lots of large headlines, empty spaces, useless large iconic pictures, large fonts, ...) causing scroll wheel arthrosis

    But it is so pretty! Scrolling is so easy to do, why would anyone leave a page that requires it?

    Because it wastes time! It's inefficient! If the main navigation links are not visible on the first view, you have FAILED as a page designer!

  • Oct 13, 2016 at 01:34 PM

    Excellent and really constructive, thanks a lot!

    But will it get the attention it deserves/need here in Coffee Corner? It might be worth crating an Idea that links here!



    • Oct 13, 2016 at 01:43 PM

      I don't know :)

      But most of what you read was already provided by forum members in the form of feedback threads during open BETA, yet the SAP team chose to stick to what they perceived as better design.

      At least in the Coffee Corner we can have some fun and thanks to discussions like this one I get to meet new people :)

      • Oct 14, 2016 at 08:28 AM

        the Coffee Corner is indeed the only page I can easily find since the transition to the new design :)

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