Designing solutions in digital services requires that we understand the diversity of people we are designing for, their behaviors, attitudes and needs, and how these relate to the design challenge at hand. Working with 'personas' reminds us to empathize with people, and to contend with the complexities of their conflicting needs and goals.
Understanding the people we are designing for is an essential part of any design process. We use Personas in our Design Jams to ensure that we are creating solutions that speak to people's needs, attitudes and behaviors, and avoid making decisions based on assumptions and stereotypes.
Created for Design Jams with regulators, lawyers, privacy advocates and product makers, this exercise is intended to introduce participants to personas, within the overall context of a Design Jam challenge.
The Persona Sets are not generic: they have been created specifically for each Design Jam topic, to explore the most relevant dimensions of how people behave.
To date we have created Persona Sets for topics including:
We'll explore what personas are, how they're created and why they are valuable in the context of the creation of new services, products, or policy. We will explore how using multiple personas can bring to light tensions and contradictions that are important to recognize when designing for digital services.
Download the Personas for Design Jams file below and focus on the persona set that’s most relevant to your Design Jam topic.
Adjust the names, locations, photos and other details to ensure the personas are relevant for your geographical area and audience. Additional research is recommended if the focus and geography of the design jam differs substantially from the research conducted to generate the persona set.
Print at A3+ and bring to the Design Jam
At the Design Jam, put the posters up on a wall and gather the participants around them.
Explain to the audience
For a more detailed explanation see our guide to personas in the TTC Persona Set for design jams.zip file.
How the Persona Sets were created
Explain how the persona sets were created:
Personas in Design Jams
Briefly introduce each of the personas within the persona set.
Explain that these personas will be prominently on display throughout the Design Jam. They should be a continual reference point. Their purpose is to help us look beyond a personal point of view, and that solving for their unique needs, attitudes and behaviors should drive the outcomes.
Divide the participants into groups of 3-5 people. Each group is to be assigned one of the personas.
Ask each group to take the persona poster off the wall and read through it. Prompt the group to think deeply about the life of their persona ; perhaps they share certain behaviors or needs, perhaps it reminds them of someone they know? Ensure to focus on the aspects that relate to the topic of the Design Jam.
Direct the participants to the two empty 'sliders' on the persona poster: Data & Privacy Literacy and Data & Privacy Concern. Give further definition on these terms if necessary.
Facilitate a conversation about each, based on the persona's description, and – as a team – agree where on the scale the persona would rank, when compared to the broader population: Low, Medium or High. Draw a line on the poster using a marker, and write a short rationale for 'why' on a post it note.
Facilitate a conversation that relates to the topic of the Design Jam, and how it might relate to the persona.
What challenges might we have in designing for this persona? Capture 3-5 responses and write them on post-it notes, and post them on the additional poster.
Repeat, asking this time, what opportunities might we have in designing for the persona?
Bring the groups back together, pinning their personas on the wall so they are visible to all.
Facilitate a conversation around designing with empathy, and the value of 'stepping into some else's shoes' when addressing a challenge.
Recap Exercise 1: Did participants notice a relationship between Data and Privacy Literacy, and Data & Privacy Concern? Did the two correlate, or not? Discuss why this might be.
Recap Exercise 2: Ask a representative from each of the teams to read aloud the challenges and opportunities for their persona. Comparing across all the personas, do we find tensions here? Are opportunities for one persona seen as challenges for another? Facilitate a discussion about how these tensions might inform the topic of the design jam.
Keep the posters on display throughout the remainder of the jam.
This tool and any associated downloadable assets are provided under aCreative Commons Attribution-Share Alike CC BY-SA 4.0 International License.