Centring Multilingual Users: Thinking through UX Personas in the DH Community

Alíz Horváth, Cornelis van Lit, Cosima Wagner, David Joseph Wrisley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Multilingual expression is not exclusive to scholars in the (digital) humanities, but it is a lived reality of a great number of people around the world. The authors of this article argue that there is a specific role to be played by the digital humanist in describing and modelling the design of workflows that assume multilinguality (and multiscriptual and multidirectional practices). This work cannot be left only to the tech industry and commercial interests. On the other hand, the larger community of digital humanists is not fully aware of the issues that multilingual users and communities face. In this paper we argue that one way this can be done most effectively in these early stages is by user persona creation.Our method is to perceive the problem from a UX (user experience) persona design point of view. The present paper synthesizes our efforts to date in creating data-driven UX profiles (based upon our insights drawn from a survey, multiple interactive workshops, an open forum series organized by the authors, and a workshop at the DH Unbound conference 2022), which aim to capture shared experiences of multilingual DH textual research, recognizing how such multilinguality might appear as a marginal phenomenon. Also drawing on research in persona studies, our paper attempts to theorize the UX profile of each specific persona, not in isolation, but in interaction with other users, bringing those personas into dialogue. The purpose of this dialogue is to centre multilingual voices with shared concerns in the scholarly community of DH. We argue that so-called “marginal” multilingual cases constitute a much larger proportion of the scholarly community than is commonly believed, and as such, we must distinguish such cases from the concept of “edge cases” in UX product development research.At the same time, in such interaction between personas, conflicts emerge. Both shared and conflicting concerns are the most interesting results of our inquiry. This is why we have chosen to present our results in the form of a fictional plenary discussion to explore what new spaces of possibility can be created in the global DH community. On the other hand, for once, a diversity of these global, multilingual voices is actually recorded for the larger community, and we hope they provide it with a starting point for inclusive discussions about infrastructure and multilinguality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-30
Number of pages30
JournalDigital Studies/ Le Champ Numerique
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences
  • Computer Science Applications


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