DAY 4 - Workshop Design P.2 User Personas

Students will learn how to develop design user personas/user journeys while reflecting on the gaps that this design tool has and how to consciously fill them in.


Obj 2 & 3: Develop workshops and design activities that engage stakeholders and center respect, empathy, and understanding.

Obj 3: Brainstorm & ideate with stakeholders to address problem statements.

Opening Activity

Guiding Questions: What tools can I use to understand and connect with the people I am designing with?

Check-In/Community Profile
and Asset Map Discussion: (45 MIN)

  1. Each group will take turns briefly sharing their submitted Stakeholder Engagement Plan with the class including their interview questions. (3-4 Min each)
  2. Students will be sent to breakout groups of 2 (assigned so students are not from the same group) and have 10 minutes each to interview their peers using their prepared interview questions.
    • If each group has 3 students, each will have conducted 1 interview (for a total of 3 interviews per group).
  3. Students will reflect on the limitations of this activity: ie. They were not able to interview non-student stakeholders.
    • What would they need to consider when interviewing other stakeholders?

Purpose: Students practice Design Fundamentals and reflect on best practices for engaging effectively and respectfully with stakeholders in codesign processes.

Key Questions & Topics

What are User Personas?

User Personas
Value in design process + limitations/potential to be problematic

User Journey Mapping/Empathy Mapping
With stakeholders or with user personas

Employing kinesthetic Workshops, Play, Narrative Tension

What are the potential ethical concerns of utilizing user personas/journeys?

Core Activity

Guiding Questions: What are User Personas and Journey Mapping

User Empathy Map and Journey exercise: (30 Min)

  1. Instructor will explain what User Personas are and their role in codesign processes ie. how they can be developed after conducting community interviews/focus groups.
    • Example of visual User Personas/Journey here.
  2. As a class, students will create User Personas and Empathy maps using one group’s interview as an example to demonstrate how to pull insights from interviews.
    • Guided User Persona creation allows for Instructors to address potential ethical concerns surrounding User Personas (risk of overgeneralizing or stereotyping etc.) in an organic manner before students create their own User Personas.
  3. Students will utilize the remaining class time in their respective groups to create 2-3 User Personas.

Additional guiding worksheet for activity: here.

Link to User Map Activity for Day 4 on Miro: here.

Purpose: Students gain an understanding of design tools: User Personas/ Empathy Mapping/User Journeys and how to create them to guide their work in engaging respectfully with stakeholders in the codesign process.

Closing Reflection Activity

What are the potential challenges that arise when creating User Personas/Journeys?

Class Check In/Explanation of Asynchronous Work: (10-15 MIN)

  1. Students will come back from the last 15 minutes of class and share any remaining questions or logistical/ethical challenges they have faced as they work on completing the User Persona Activity.
  2. Instructor will go over additional post session work (personal reflection and mini-slide show presentation).

Purpose: Students hone their understanding of design tools User Personas/ Empathy Mapping/User Journeys how to create them to guide their work in engaging respectfully with stakeholders in the codesign process.

Post Session Work

  • Group Work: Students will complete User Persona/Mapping asynchronously if not finished during campus.
  • Group Work: Students will also prepare a simple slide show presentation that contains a snapshot of their deliverables thus far (ie. group’s Problem Statement, How Might question, stakeholder map, target stakeholders, Interview Questions, User Personas) to prepare for ideation workshop the following day.
    • Slide Show presentation will come in handy in week two when student groups will create and present a design journey to class.
    • Example of presentation: here.
  • Individual Work: Reflection Response on how students would approach the Interview and corresponding User Persona creation process when working with stakeholders outside of the Institute. What additional considerations would one have to make in their Stakeholder Engagement Plan when they haven’t worked/interacted with before?
  • Individual Work: Review "Part 1: ‘We Are Here’: Starting Points in Co-Creation." In Collective Wisdom. MIT Press, 2019.”
    • Reading was assigned pre-Institute, but will be discussed formally in the following class.