EX09 - Personas

Defining the ‘user’ in user experience

Before you begin prototyping the solution, you first have to prototype the user.

Updated May 01, 2020

In terms of evolutionary leaps, user-centered design is a glorious one. By building with people in mind and then testing our concepts with them, the industry found significant efficiencies — but where did we find the user?

persona-example Source: newpragmatic.com

This is the classic dilemma of the chicken and egg. Which came first?

Software engineer Alan Cooper saw the problem decades ago and solved it by creating personas. This fictional composite emerged from the mountain of data that we collect during exploratory research. All the factual ingredients were already present; Cooper gave it form, and the industry was forever changed.

There are undoubtedly different types of personas. Our primary personas represent our most likely users. Still, it is also essential to consider the impact on secondary actors. This approach keeps an eye on the community while building solutions with our primary user in mind.

The persona by itself isn’t all that useful in determining the direction your project will go. Personas are simply the ‘who’ in your equation — knowing ‘why’ is just as important.

In this project, Scenarios provide a better understanding of’ why’ users utilize school resources differently. Imagining how a teacher or parent might use the school isn’t hard. Still, that exercise will only generate surface-level observations. Scenarios allow us to see how our personas deal with specific issues.

Resources for review

Please use the following items to guide your exercise attempt:

Article/Video Source/Author
Bringing who and why into focus New Pragmatic
Making Personas Truly Valuable Jared Spool


Length: One-to-two hours to complete.

Personas are a composite of your likely user. Some products have a single focus, but most projects target more than one.

For the School Reboot project, multiple user possibilities have already emerged from your affinity mapping exercise. Most of the details that will populate your personas will also be derived from the prior exercise.

To complete this project, you will need to do the following:

  • Create two target personas
  • Produce at least three scenarios related to services provided by the school
  • Identify three secondary roles for people who will somehow influence one of your personas or the school itself


Each persona should address primary and secondary users with each containing at least the following information:

  • User goals
  • User frustrations
  • Basic demographics
  • Financial boundaries
  • Key quote
  • Photo associated with the persona

Design your personas with distribution to a team or group of stakeholders in mind. Feel free to use this Figma persona template as a starting point.

Add your scenarios and secondary roles as journal entries for review.


Once complete, update your Program Journal with links to any assets produced in this exercise. Post your Journal in the #Feedback-Loop channel for review.


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