• Son Luu

A Persona = An Opportunity

Updated: Apr 14, 2019

Class: Design Meaningful Interactions

Professors: Katherine Dillon | Su Kim

This week, we are given an assignment to interview someone we care about and explore an opportunity to help improve an experience they have gone through or are currently enduring. The exercise serves as an inspiration for a small-scale experience design project by the end of the class. The deliverables for this exercise include two to three personas that share their overall information, needs/interests, and associated frustrations or pain pain points.

Below are personas of my sister's and parents' stories.


There are different ways to present a persona. Sometimes, a persona is a representation of a larger group of target users with similar interest and concerns. In this case, my persona is a specific individual with a specific story. However, the opportunity to improve a specific experience might turn out to benefit others as well. I don't know that yet. This may be a finding at some point during the user research phase, where we might begin a project that is inspired by the need to address a person's specific situation, but the solution may have a wider application and potentially help a larger community.

Sister's Story


I came up with a sketch that help recall the conversation my sister had with her son's teacher about the confusion the family experienced while reading her son's year-end report card.

I hoped to show mixed emotions on everyone's face: confusion, awkwardness, disappointment, and maybe also a little bit of regret.... It may not be easy for us to relate to this experience right away. We may be asking ourselves: "Why would one simple comment have such an emotional impacts on the people involved?

Mom and Dad's Story


The sketch for this situation again shows mixed emotions of exhaustion, slight disappointment of an older couple in their 60's wondering about something as simple as navigation around a university campus [not an entire city], can be frustrating and more difficult than one would expect. In some unique scenarios, only when you try to put yourself in the user's shoe, can you develop an empathy for their situation, which is crucial to the process of designing a meaningful experience for them.


... But that's also why we need to listen closely to our target users while trying to develop empathy for the situation they go through. The hope is that, through closely listening to their stories and paying attention to their associated emotions and gestures, we would be able to gain a deep understanding of what the underlying issue or what the root problem might be, because who knows, solving the problem for that specific individual could potentially make an entire system work more efficiently and effectively where many other people can also benefit from it.

Improved Persona of Choice

After presenting my persona examples in class, everyone supported both opportunities; however the opportunities that potentially come out of my parents' story may be a little bit more manageable in scope. So, below is an improved version of the persona, preparing for studying user journey and getting closer to identifying an opportunity to help improve user experience.

Situation Storyboard

Problem Statement

User Journey


Our three-week class ended here, but I learned so much about listening and developing empathy for users' stories and situations. Listening is not easy. Often times, we think we are listening, but we are potentially filtering out a lot of important details that could provide crucial insights into a user experience.

In addition, understanding user journey is understanding not only the steps involved in a process or an experience, but also the emotions involved in every stage and step. Once we are able to notice gestures, and emotions associated with a user story and/or experience, we might just begin to tap into opportunities to address their pain points.

In addition, as we explore solutions to a specific problem experienced by a specific persona, such solution could potentially solve the similar problems for many others. That means, a simple solution to a personal problem, could become a lot more complicated, larger in scale and potentially involving a lot more stakeholders.