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Personas Revamp

Time: 2023 Summer
Team Size: 1
Role: UX Researcher
Tools: SurveyMonkey, Card Sorting, Miro

UX Research Project @Guidewire


This project is initiated by me when working as UX Researcher at Guidewire Software in summer 2023. Aiming at revamping the UX persona intranet page, the project greatly enhanced the operation efficiency across the company.

Please note that every detail associating with Guidewire has been erased on this page. This is just a demonstration of my work process as a UX Researcher.

What did I do?

  • Identified the business needs and initiated this project;

  • Reached out to relevant contacts within the company to conduct a series research activities needed to draft the recommendations;

  • Crafted a story and communicated my findings out to the stakeholders and UX team trying to get buy-ins for this project.


Nobody uses the intranet page... 


Migration from Microsoft to Google

Our company migrated from Microsoft suite to Google recently. A lot of resources and documents used to be hosted on Sharepoint, hence a large portion of the old hyperlinks were broken. And people are having trouble locating past research findings (including persona cards and boards). 

Low Usage of the Personas Page

The UXR team put a lot of effort into establishing a new persona page in our intranet. But according to our findings, a very small portion of our Product Development team uses it... 

PM Recommendations

A past initiative has been carried out by PMs, leading to a recommendation that we need to revamp the personas page, and new categorization method needs to be established.


How might we enable employees across GW to access relevant persona information efficiently?

Understanding the problem:

In order to delve deeper into problem space and identify the pain points, along with the working team, we conducted 5 interviews with PMs, Designers, and Researchers in our company. We designed two sets of questions for UX and non-UX people in order understand when in their workflow cycle the participants will utilize personas (or not).

Our main findings are:

  • people are accessing personas in a not-standardized, not-streamlined, and inefficient manner, such as

    • asking around,

    • looking through their downloaded PDFs, 

    • digging through the messages in Slack;

  • designers are aware of the UX Personas Page, while a large portion of PMs are not aware of this.

"Mostly of the time I just ask people who I know have done project with it [this persona] about their experiences and insights. Sometimes I go to my slack and find the links that people have sent to me before to access it"

- Lead Designer

Scoping the problem:

So this is a chronicle problem that got exacerbated by the migration to Google. In order to answer this HMW question: "How might we enable employees across GW to access relevant persona information efficiently?", I identified the desired goals for our target users.

Employees Across Guidewire

  • Can access persona efficiently and in a streamlined manner

  • Help them find other secondary personas to their product

UX Team

  • Increase the exposure of our work 

  • Have a centralized hub to store our personas

UXR Team

  • Set up a framework that’s easy to maintain and update 


Good ol' Double Diamond!

The following double diamond graph encapsulates the overall process of this project. I started with competitive analysis and desk research into how other companies are categorizing their personas, diverged and came up with several ideas on how to improve our organization. Then sent out a survey to validate & test my hypothesis. The survey helped me narrowed down to a few concrete ideas, followed by some usability testing sessions, where I got some feedback and iterated a few more structures. Then I carried out a closed card sorting activity to finally converge and produce a set of recommendations.

Competitive Analysis:

  • Spotify:

    • Spotify organizes its UX persona database by user goals. There are personas for users who want to discover new music, listen to their favorite artists, and create playlists. The personas are used to guide the development of new features and improve the user experience of Spotify.

    • Source

  • Dropbox:

    • Dropbox organizes their personas based on user roles, such as "Freelancer," "Small Business Owner," and "Enterprise User."

    • Source

  • Airbnb:

    • Airbnb categorizes their personas based on travel preferences and user behaviors, such as "Experience Seeker," "Budget Traveler," and "Luxury Traveler."

    • hosts and guests are two distinct Airbnb customer segments:

    • hosts:

      • They want to earn income from their available space

      • They want to meet people from around the world and provide them with a local stay.

    • guests:

      • Those looking for accommodation

      • Those looking for ‘experiences’.

    • Source

UXD-4182 Personas Revamp - Insurance Lifecycle.jpg
UXD-4182 Personas Revamp - Insurance Lifecycle.jpg
  • Insurance Research:

    • Because our personas are closely related to insurance product development and life cycles, I also did desk research into insurance ​company core operations, including Underwriting, Billing, Claim, and Policy.

    • I also talked with several PMs to get an understanding of which personas are associate with what products, given that we have a full range of product line, covering every step of the insurance process. I categorized these products and linked associate personas with them (see left).


Currently our categorization method is by user roles. In order to establish a more effective organization, we need to identify key persona attributes that users care about, maybe try grouping them by behavior or characteristics (such as Industry Experience/Time spent with GW products). We can also group them by Job Function or Industry-Specific Grouping​. Additional effort we can make to enhance the experience include:

  • Persona Tags or Keywords (relate to taxonomy)​

  • Visual Representations (integration)​

  • Establish Relationships and Connections

  • ​Regularly Review and Update (may need to change the format, right now it's pdf)​

  • Provide Access and Training​

Alternative categorization methods that other companies are using that may be applicable to us would be​ 1) by Customer Journey or User Lifecycle Stages 2) by product.

Moving forward, I brainstormed several future steps to push forward this project (see below):

Screenshot 2023-08-10 at 8.24.13 PM.png


Now that I have all these ideas for improving the organization, it's time to test them out with our users! In order to understand users’ current usage of the UX personas and their preferences on how the personas page should be organized, I designed a survey that later on was distributed to PMs and Designers in Product Development team. The important findings from the survey are below:

​UX Personas Usage and Page Organization Survey

13 Responses

PMs & Designers

  • 10 access personas from channel other than the persona page

  • 6 think the current categorization is not effective

  • 8 deem it important to easily identify relevant personas

  • 5 want to see the inventory categorized by products

“It's about access to information and culture. [...] I'd say share it and point people to it more often”. 

“Regular updates and maintenance would ensure that it remains up-to-date and reflects the evolving user landscape”.

I combed through the responses, synthesized several insights and designed a first-iteration categorization method (see the tree structure to the right). The top three insights are:

  1. Current categorizations works; but could add additional categorization based on product

  2. Direct people to use G-net page as the only centralized hub for the inventory

  3. Regular updates and maintenance of the inventory are necessary

Screenshot 2023-08-10 at 8.52.16 PM.png

Usability Testing:

Screenshot 2023-08-10 at 9.03.45 PM.png

But how do we know this structure that I came up with make sense? I am not the product expert, but our PMs are!


So I ran a couple of casual usability testing with three PMs who own different product in our product line. Got numerous feedback and generated a couple of more iterations of the tree structure. 

The final structure I used for Card Sorting is this (see left). You can compare with the previous version to see the changes I made (and trust me, it took several iterations to get here!)

Card Sorting:

The overall structure is in place! Now let's actually start putting personas under each category. Of course I have my opinions on where things should go, but it doesn't count! The designers and researcher in our team, who are going to the users of the persona page, have more experience working with these personas than I do. So in order to lean on our users’ knowledge of personas and put personas in a place where they expect to see, I conducted this closed card sorting activity. I decided to do closed cart sorting because it gives the users a starting point, and I can test the proposed structure at the same time.

Closed Card Sorting of Persona Inventory
12 Participants

Designers & Researchers

I put 15min on the clock for Individual Sorting, in which our users are tasked with moving the persona cards to the category that they think it belongs to. I have a "Personas That Don't Fit" field for participants to put personas they are not sure of, whether it's because of lack of knowledge on this persona or the incompleteness of the tree structure. After that we discussed as a group to collect questions, feedback, and overall experience of this exercise.

I synthesized the findings from the card sorting activity, chose an inclusive & quantitative approach:

  • Inclusive: I kept all the personas that our users put under one category, because I want our users to be able to find the personas they need in the place they want to see;

  • Quantitative: In order to reduce the clutter of having too many personas under one category, I counted how many times a persona appeared under one category, out of the total participants number. For the personas that appeared more times than half of the participants number (6), I kept them as Primary Persona under this category. And I kept the rest as the Secondary Persona

The users also provided important feedback on the Tree Structure and the overall project, some important feedback include:

  • There will be duplicates of the same persona -> under one category there will be primary & secondary personas

  • External vs. Internal may help users distinguish GW roles and Insurer roles

  • Additional personas need to be developed in the future as there exist a large vacuum for GW personas​

From here I edited the tree structure based on the feedback, created the final re-organized inventory, and wrote recommendations to revamp the page. A summary of my recommendation report is as followed:

  • Default to user roles categorization, but have the ability to change to different methods

    • have a dropdown menu to change the categorization method

    • User roles, Products, User Journeys

  • Add search & filtering function to the page

    • present the personas in a searchable format rather than pdfs

    • implement filters based on demographics, computer levels, etc

  • Establish connection between personas

    • similar personas (all jutro users, all underwriting..)

    • cross-reference and hyper-link to other personas

  • Direct GW employee to the page more

    • putting it in a more prominent place on UX page.

    • Direct PMs to use it more in communications

  • Constantly maintaining and implementing personas database

Future Steps

A long way to go, but we are on the right track!

Normally this is the section where I talk about the outcome of the project and throw a bunch of numbers in your face which neither of us know what it means but it just sounds cool and everyone does that. But given that this initiative has a very long timeline and needs a lot of effort and personnel. I was only with Guidewire for three months. So I outlined the future steps for this project and transitioned my project to a full-time researcher at GW.

Because I only tested the structure within UX team, and our users are for employees across GW. So we need to test the structure outside of UX. Then the point designer will revamp the persona page according to my recommendation. We will communicate our progress out and prompt people to go to our page more. After that we will run a couple of result analysis to see if this is effective. And our research team will keep updating and maintaining the database. If new personas are developed in the future, they will have to go through the process again.


I did, however, presented my project to a couple of stakeholders in the whole UX meeting, trying to get their buy-in to continue with this project.


After that, we assembled a working team to continue with this project! And I transitioned my knowledge and effort to them, making sure that they can pick up where I left off seamlessly. I am sure this initiative will enhance the efficiency of our UX operations and productivity of product development process relating to personas.


Information management and retrieval is a challenging task for every organization.

Throughout my involvement in the UX Personas Revamp project, I gained a profound appreciation for the intricate nature of information management and retrieval within organizations. The challenges posed by this task are universal, impacting every facet of an enterprise. The project highlighted the critical role of UX operations, often overshadowed by production demands. As we seek to streamline processes and elevate efficiency, I've come to realize that empowering our employees with intuitive and user-centric tools & experiences is paramount. This experience underscores the symbiotic relationship between robust information handling and the relentless pursuit of increased productivity, ultimately shaping a more harmonious and effective work environment.

The End

Huge thanks to Leslie and Mona for being my manager and mentor, who offered me tremendous support and guidance throughout.

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