Using Personas to Create Awesome Experiences

Presentation Date: 

Thursday, June 8, 2017


7th Annual IT Summit, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

Presentation Slides: 

This presentation was given at the Harvard IT Summit on June 8, 2017, and was presented by Donna Megquier and Maureen (Mo) Barlow.

Using Personas to Create Awesome Products Experiences

Here are the main points at a high level. Check out the presentation for the details, and the worksheets we used in the session.

Think about this: is it easier to create a solution for one person that you know something about rather than “all users”? Personas are here to help.

Personas can get a bad rap in the world of development. Our presentation was designed to explain:

  • what personas are
  • what they are not
  • how to create them
  • how to use them in defining and scoping work

Start by creating and developing a persona or community of personas that use your service, product, or system. You already have a good idea of who they are, but now is the time to refine and validate them.
Socialize your personas. Get people to refer to your users by name, rather than as “all librarians” or “all students.” More understanding of the experience of your personas - their pain points, frustrations, and feelings - can be gleaned from journey maps that you create and share with your team, stakeholders, and sponsors.
Put your personas to work for you. Out of your journey maps, you’ll have lots of ideas. Use your personas to prioritize the work. Make the agile stories about them. Hypothesize the outcome your persona will have, and define benchmarks or measures for assessing whether the expected outcome was achieved.
At the end of the presentation is a page of links to websites and tools you may find helpful. 

Thank you -

Donna Megquier
UX Manager
Corporate Learning
Harvard Business Publishing

Maureen (Mo) Barlow
Senior UX Designer
Harvard Business Review Group
Harvard Business Publishing