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Understand people

Get participants to put themselves in the users' shoes, in order to better understand their needs and attitudes when it comes to personal data and privacy.

30 mins
15 mins

Understand people

Get participants to put themselves in the users' shoes, in order to better understand their needs and attitudes when it comes to personal data and privacy.

30 mins
15 mins

What is it

Digital apps and services cater for people from all walks of life. A middle-aged parent likely has different motivations to a teenager, or a 20-something city dweller to a 60-something suburbanite. When designing for trust, transparency and control, in order to make the experience as user-friendly and engaging as possible, it's important to be mindful of these differing motivations.

In this exercise, participants will analyse three fictional "personas" (based on the kinds of people that might use a particular app or service), and put themselves in their shoes. In doing so, they will better understand their needs and attitudes when it comes to personal data and privacy, and obtain useful information that will guide the design process.

How to do it

1 Prepare the materials and work space
  • Download the Persona example - adults ↓ or Persona example - teens ↓.
  • Find a clean surface (e.g. whiteboard, flipchart) to work on.
  • Select three personas. Make sure they're relevant to the app or service you're designing for. If you're working on a real business challenge, select personas that best represent your target users.
  • Print them out and mount them on the surface. Ensure there's sufficient space between each persona on the surface, so that participant groups can gather around each one comfortably.
2 Brief the participants
  • Explain the aim of the exercise and what you're asking participants to do, as described in the "Overview" section above.
  • Introduce the three personas you will be analysing. Explain that they're based on users relevant to the app or service you're designing for.
  • Divide the participants into three groups, so each group can work on a different persona.

Undestand users ilustration

3 Start empathising
  • Ask participants in each group to write their thoughts on individual Post-it notes, in relation to the following themes:

    • Data usage: What are the behaviours of this persona when it comes to data use? To what extent is this persona actively managing their data? Why?
    • Personality & tech capability: What do we know about the life of this persona? What are their interests and habits? How tech savvy are they?
    • Motivation What does this persona use the digital service for? What are the real-life situations in which they'd use them? How much do they use the service? How does their data help them get the most out of the service?
    • Needs: What challenges or frustrations might they experience when using the service? What problems do they face when managing their data?
    • Attitudes/Feelings: What are their general feelings when it comes to data use and privacy? Apathy? Annoyance? Suspicion? A desire for more information?
  • Guide the groups' responses; ensure they're clear and focussed on the themes above, and will provide meaningful points for consideration during the design process.

  • Get them to think deeply about the lives of the personas when formulating their responses - where they're from, their interests and habits, how they engage with technology, their world-view - sometimes it helps to think about someone you know that fits that persona.

4 Begin the discussion
  • Once all the groups have finished noting down their responses, gather everyone together and invite them to review the Post-it notes.
  • Get each group to talk about their persona to the wider team, and what they noted down about them.
  • Lead a discussion on each of the personas, one by one, considering the following points:
    • What have we learnt about them?
    • Have we gained useful insights around how they engage with the app or service?
    • Is there anything that hasn't been considered? Do participants who worked on different personas have any further thoughts about personas they didn't work on?
  • The aim here is to encourage conversation around how different people relate to themes of data use and privacy, and to capture insights for use in ideation later in the workshop. But most importantly, it's to remind participants that they are focussing on human-centred design by putting people's needs at the heart of the process.

(A note about group dynamics: ensure everyone's voice is heard. If there are dominant voices during the group exercises, or during the discussion afterwards, subtly intervene to ask other less dominant voices to contribute their insights.)

What you will need

  • Pens

  • Post-it notes

  • Sticky tape

  • Blu Tack

Download the materials used in this tool

This tool and any associated downloadable assets are provided under a

Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike CC BY-SA 4.0 International License.

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