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Research & Writing: Design Research

Help with writing and conducting research, including resources for starting your research

Personas Overview

Personas represent the audience for products, spatial layouts, websites, and more. They model the major users of the end product and are useful for determining user behaviors. Creating personas requires user research and web analytics and includes the following steps:

  • Conduct user research:
    • Who are your users?
    • Why are they using this product/system?
  • Condense the research into relevant themes and groups
  • Brainstorm: 
    • Organize persona groups
    • Name each group

Data Visualization

When creating data visualizations, over half of your time will be devoted to cleaning your data and transforming it into the visual. It is crucial that your spreadsheet conforms to the following:

  • All your variables are in columns
  • Only one piece of information per cell
  • Put each observation in its own row
  • Don't try to manipulate raw data (!!)
  • Export to a text based format (i.e. CSV)

For more tips, see the Data Visualization guide from the University of Texas Libraries.

Persona Motivations Chart

Objective Questions
Define the purpose/vision for the site/product
  • What is the purpose of the product?
  • What are the goals of the product?
Describe the user


  • What is the age of your user?
  • What is their gender?
  • What is their highest level of education?


  • How much work experience do they have?
  • What is their professional background?
  • Why will they use the product? (User needs, interests, goals)
  • Where (or from whom) are they getting information about your product or similar products?
  • When and where will they access/use the product? (User environment, context)


  • What similar products do they use regularly?
User motivation
  • What motivates them?
  • What are they looking for?
  • What are they looking to do?
  • What are their needs?

All persona information on this page (plus more) from

College for Creative Studies website