GitLab Documentation

UX Personas

Nazim Ramesh



Steven works for a software development company which currently hires around 80 people. When Steven first joined the company, the engineering team were using Subversion (SVN) as their primary form of source control. However, Steven felt SVN was not flexible enough to work with many feature branches and noticed that developers with less experience of source control struggled with the central-repository nature of SVN. Armed with a wishlist of features, Steven began comparing source control tools. A search for “self-hosted Git server repository management” returned GitLab. In his own words, Steven explains why he wanted the engineering team to start using GitLab:

“I wanted them to switch away from SVN. I needed a server application to manage repositories. The common tools that were around just didn’t meet the requirements. Most of them were too simple or plain...GitLab provided all the required features. Also costs had to be low, since we don’t have a big budget for those things...the Community Edition was perfect in this regard.”

In his role as a full-stack web developer, Steven could recommend products that he would like the engineering team to use, but final approval lay with his line manager, Mike, VP of Engineering. Steven recalls that he was met with reluctance from his colleagues when he raised moving to Git and using GitLab.

“The biggest challenge...why should we change anything at all from the status quo? We needed to switch from SVN to Git. They knew they needed to learn Git and a Git workflow...using Git was scary to my colleagues...they thought it was more complex than SVN to use.”

Undeterred, Steven decided to migrate a couple of projects across to GitLab.

“Old SVN users couldn’t see the benefits of Git at first. It took a month or two to convince them.”

Slowly, by showing his colleagues how easy it was to use Git, the majority of the team’s projects were migrated to GitLab.

The engineering team have been using GitLab CE for around 2 years now. Steven credits himself as being entirely responsible for his company’s decision to move to GitLab.


Adoption to GitLab has been slow

Not only has the engineering team had to get to grips with Git, they’ve also had to adapt to using GitLab. Due to lack of training and existing skills in other tools, the full feature set of GitLab CE is not being utilised. Steven sold GitLab to his manager as an ‘all in one’ tool which would replace multiple tools used within the company, thus saving costs. Steven hasn’t had the time to integrate the legacy tools to GitLab and he’s struggling to convince his peers to change their habits.

Missing Features

Steven’s company want GitLab to be able to do everything. There isn’t a large budget for software, so they’re selective about what tools are implemented. It needs to add real value to the company. In order for GitLab to be widely adopted and to meet the requirements of different roles within the company, it needs a host of features. When an individual within Steven’s company wants to know if GitLab has a specific feature or does a particular thing, Steven is the person to ask. He becomes the point of contact to investigate, build or sometimes just raise the feature request. Steven gets frustrated when GitLab isn’t able to do what he or his colleagues need it to do.

Regressions and bugs

Steven often has to calm down his colleagues, when a release contains regressions or new bugs. As he puts it “every new version adds something awesome, but breaks something”. He feels that “old issues for "minor" annoyances get quickly buried in the mass of open issues and linger for a very long time. More generally, I have the feeling that GitLab focus on adding new functionalities, but overlook a bunch of annoying minor regressions or introduced bugs.” Due to limited resource and expertise within the team, not only is it difficult to remain up-to-date with the frequent release cycle, it’s also counterproductive to fix workflows every month.

Uses too much RAM and CPU

“Memory usages mean that if we host it from a cloud based host like AWS, we spend almost as much on the instance as what we would pay GitHub”


GitLab’s interface initially attracted Steven when he was comparing version control software. He thought it would help his less technical colleagues to adapt to using Git and perhaps, GitLab could be rolled out to other areas of the business, beyond engineering. However, using GitLab’s interface daily has left him frustrated at the lack of personalisation / control over his user experience. He’s also regularly lost in a maze of navigation. Whilst he acknowledges that GitLab listens to its users and that the interface is improving, he becomes annoyed when the changes are too progressive. “Too frequent UI changes. Most of them tend to turn out great after a few cycles of fixes, but the frequency is still far too high for me to feel comfortable to always stay on the current release.”


James Mackey



James works for a research company which currently hires around 800 staff. He began using back in 2013 for his own open source, hobby projects and loved “the simplicity of installation, administration and use”. After using GitLab for over a year, he began to wonder about using it at work. James explains:

“We first installed the CE edition...on a staging server for a PoC and asked a beta team to use it, specifically for the Merge Request features. Soon other teams began asking us to be beta users too, because the team that was already using GitLab was really enjoying it.”

James and his colleagues also reviewed competitor products including GitHub Enterprise, but they found it “less innovative and with considerable costs...GitLab had the features we wanted at a much lower cost per head than GitHub”.

The company James works for provides employees with a discretionary budget to spend how they want on software, so James and his team decided to upgrade to EE.

James feels partially responsible for his organisation’s decision to start using GitLab.

“It's still up to the teams themselves [to decide] which tools to use. We just had a great experience moving our daily development to GitLab, so other teams have followed the path or are thinking about switching.”


Third Party Integration

Some of GitLab EE’s features are too basic, in particular, issues boards which do not have the level of reporting that James and his team need. Subsequently, they still need to use GitLab EE in conjunction with other tools, such as JIRA. Whilst James feels it isn’t essential for GitLab to meet all his needs (his company are happy for him to use, and pay for, multiple tools), he sometimes isn’t sure what is/isn’t possible with plugins and what level of custom development he and his team will need to do.


James and his team use CI quite heavily for several projects. Whilst they’ve welcomed improvements to the builds and pipelines interface, they still have some difficulty following build process on the different tabs under Pipelines. Some confusion has arisen from not knowing where to find different pieces of information or how to get to the next stages logs from the current stage’s log output screen. They feel more intuitive linking and flow may alleviate the problem. Generally, they feel GitLab’s navigation needs to reviewed and optimised.


“There is no granular control over user or group permissions. The permissions for a project are too tightly coupled to the permissions for Gitlab CI/build pipelines.”


Karolina Plaskaty



Harry has been using for around a year. He roughly spends 8 hours every week programming, of that, 2 hours is spent contributing to open source projects. Harry contributes to open source projects to gain programming experience and to give back to the community. He likes for its free private repositories and range of features which provide him with everything he needs for his personal projects. Harry is also a massive fan of GitLab’s values and the fact that it isn’t a “behemoth of a company”. He explains that “displaying every single thing (doc, culture, assumptions, development...) in the open gives me greater confidence to choose Gitlab personally and to recommend it at work.” He’s also an avid reader of GitLab’s blog.

Harry works for a software development company which currently hires around 500 people. Harry would love to use GitLab at work but the company has used GitHub Enterprise for a number of years. He describes management at his company as “old fashioned” and explains that it’s “less of a technical issue and more of a cultural issue” to convince upper management to move to GitLab. Harry is also relatively new to the company so he’s apprehensive about pushing too hard to change version control platforms.


Unable to use GitLab at work

Harry wants to use GitLab at work but isn’t sure how to approach the subject with management. In his current role, he doesn’t feel that he has the authority to request GitLab.

Performance is frequently slow and unavailable. Harry has also heard that GitLab is a “memory hog” which has deterred him from running GitLab on his own machine for just hobby / personal projects.


Harry has an interest in UX and therefore has strong opinions about how GitLab should look and feel. He feels the interface is cluttered, “it has too many links/buttons” and the navigation “feels a bit weird sometimes. I get lost if I don’t pay attention.” As Harry also enjoys contributing to open-source projects, it’s important to him that GitLab is well designed for public repositories, he doesn’t feel that GitLab currently achieves this.