As part of the FastFWD design curriculum, we are inviting design firms from the Greater Philadelphia area to host workshops for the Entrepreneurs and Impact Hub community members. For our first one, we were excited to collaborate with Think Brownstone to lead the teams through an evening of designing personas. 

Think Brownstone is an experience design firm located in Conshohocken, and soon to open an office in Center City Philadelphia. They describe themselves as "business-minded design professionals who help organizations create intuitive, engaging and beautiful digital products and business applications."

Personas, or sometimes referred to as archetypes, are fictional profiles developed as a way of representing a particular group of people based on their shared interests, needs, behaviors, etc.

Design research methods and tools have the power to capture a great deal of qualitative and quantitative data about a companies' users, customers, stakeholders, market sector, and the broader context of a product or service. Once the raw data has been gathered through stakeholder research participation, a range of design exercises and methods can make visible the patterns and themes pertinent to the problem at hand. These findings are then used to develop a set of personas–typically 3 to 4 primary, and 5 to 6 secondary. This tool can reveal new insights and understanding, and help both businesses and designers to make data-driven decisions to address the users' and stakeholders' needs.

During the Think Brownstone workshop, the FastFWD companies and guests teamed up to work through the process of creating one persona for their own products and services. The participants found it to be a very valuable exercise in thinking through how their user interacts with their product or service at different stages in the adoption process and beyond. They also observed that it uncovered assumptions and areas in need of more research.

More information and a template for building your own personas can be found here.

We look forward to our next FastFWD design workshop with Andculture, coming up in April.

 Phil Charron of Think Brownstone facilitating one of the FastFWD start-up companies through building a persona.

Phil Charron of Think Brownstone facilitating one of the FastFWD start-up companies through building a persona.