Internship – 10 Weeks

UX, XR, Consulting

Designing to bring students Closer.

Independent Project |

Design Research


A student persona cards for administrators and faculty to help prioritize programs and make better policy decisions for students.


Planning &


Design Research
Visual Design


10 Weeks





When I was working in student government and in various clubs, I often heard people ask “What do the students think?” Many would ask this question but found no answer to it. Increasingly, student feedback became a scarce resource on campus and people began making decisions that didn’t take into consideration their end-users. Additionally, when surveys or research were conducted, there wasn’t a repository to store all the collected data.


By creating a deck of student persona cards, I wanted a place where qualitative insights on students could be stored and evolved. And with it– I introduced the idea of Human-Centered Design to the student leaders, administrators, and faculty so that they can stop wondering about what students think, but thinking like the students themselves.

"I looked at the user persona cards made by Salesforce and thought, Why not make these cards for my school?"

Research Planning

Process over perfection

Instead of perfecting the persona cards, I decided to devote my time crafting the process over the product. Since it was designed to be a legacy project, I knew that within one quarter, I wouldn’t be able to create a comprehensive deck of the entire student body. However, I could create a process that could later be replicated, expanded, and improved upon.



When research began, I quickly noticed the limitations of being a one-person research team. I wanted to be fully transparent to the stakeholders when I presented the deliverables.

Students always change

Students are dynamic creatures, always meta-forming into something new every second. This made it important to frequently evaluate and revise the personas to ensure it’s still relevant to the daily experiences of the students.

User research is biased

While it’s a top priority to be objective in research, biases will always exist. I’ve tried to reduce the biases in this project by getting feedback from stakeholders, but the best way is to use multiple sources of feedback to validate any hypothesis.

No personas could ever replace humans

Personas can be a great tool for understanding students. But it is even better at highlighting the things that you don’t yet know about them. In that case, I made the tool a guide on how and who to reach out to.




Insights Excavated






Creating Protopersonas

I reached out to the stakeholders on campus that work closely with students and we began brainstorming various personas. This quick exercise helped me narrowed down target personas whom I got to interview and gave me a roadmap for the future of this project.

Card Design

To design the cards, I made modular components on Figma so that it’s accessible and customizable for any future teams.


Persona Card

Designing something personal

The names of the personas are actual names from the school and they are prefaced with an alliterative descriptor (e.g. Exemplary Esra) so that they could be quickly referenced without memory recall. Some of the pictures of students were also submitted by the interviewees themselves, but the names and the stories were mismatched to protect their identities.


Event Card

Events that shape the student experience

These cards were not a part of the original plan but were added later on because I found patterns of events emerging from the stories that the students told. Event cards hold thought-provoking questions that ask, “What if…” and “How might we…” to riddles the policy and program creators to make meaningful experiences for their users.


Activity Card

Introducing design-led thinking

The idea of Human-Centered Design is still nascent in higher ed. Activity cards are meant to teach stakeholders how to use the cards to spark new, and engaging ways to bring students back into their creative process. These exercises can run in meetings or workshops to help develop an understanding of the students, as well as brainstorming new strategies policies and programs

Learn More

To view the online repository I made for the campus. Click on the link below.

GitBook Link

Read my Medium article about this project published on the UX Collective.

Article Link

"Know thy user, and you are not thy user."

Arnie Lund, Professor of Practice at UW Bothell

Closing Thoughts

This project started with a small inspiration, fueled by supporters on campus, and realized through its limitations. Working alone– not in a team, made me appreciate how much more you can achieve when you are together. That’s why one of the successes of this project is that it lives beyond myself. Through the open-source library of designs and processes, this project will continue on and continue to grow. And in the future, I see it being even more impactful by combining both qualitative and quantitative insights.

Special thanks to Arnie Lund (Advisor), Gowri Shankur (Sponsor), and Andrea Neubert (Supervisor)

What's Next

This project is set to be created into a student assistant position in the Planning and Administration org. In addition, Dr. Arnie Lund who was an advisor for this project is incorporating into the class he’s teaching: CSS 478 Usability and User-Centered Design in the Fall of 2020. Stay tuned for future updates.