The personas are archetypes built after an observation of the potential users. Once it’s built the persona serves as a representative for the “type” of people that the team is solving their problem for.

Before the workshop a mentor should lead a keynote on personas and empathy to cover topics like user experience, market research, user research, user psychology and explain the differences between target group and target persona.

PART ONE: Storming about actual people with actual problems

  • Each member thinks of 3 people in their live that he actually knows and have that specific problem
  • Each member puts 3 names on the table (on 3 individual post-it notes)
  • All post-it notes (could be 20 names) are then put on the table (or on the wall)
  • A group tries to affinity map the post-its (which of the people have similar traits or should be grouped)
  • A group chooses one (or two) persona(s) and continues to the empathy map.

PART TWO: Persona empathy mapping

A classical template for Empathy map should be used and groups should brainstorm about what does a person with a problem Think/Feel, See, Hear, Say&Do. “Pains” and “gains” can be left empty at this point.

  • Each group fills in one or two Empathy maps. Covers it with post-it notes.
  • Each persona should have a name, age, gender and some other demographic or psychographic traits relevant to the problem.

With this exercise students learn about empathy and actually dive deep into the user’s perspective of the problem. Empathy mapping usually pushes students away from the technical innovation and solutions toward viable solutions and services that make sense to the end-user.