Research For/By Design — Part 3

Kendra Barber
4 min readApr 29, 2021


For this week’s assignment, we needed to start putting together personas based off of our previous research and ideas. In order to start creating those personas, we needed to take a look at the ideas we had come up for possible problems we wanted to tackle, and then create our personas based off how those problems would affect these people.

Problems that we had identified previously in regards to public transportation were:

  1. Cleanliness: Issues before covid, and more issues afterward
  2. Safety: How safe is it to ride on the subway, especially for woman
  3. Economic: Making pricing more accessible, particularly for people who use the subway as their main source of transportation
  4. Navigation: There needs to be easier navigation options all across the board

Using some of those issues listed above, we could start to create our personas based off how those problems would be affecting them. One of our stakeholders was the general public, and that encompasses such a wide range of people, so we decided to create two very different personas of people who are apart of that same group:

Primary Persona:

Our primary persona was someone who lives in the city, but doesn’t use the subway specifically because of all the different problems, but would like to start using the subway more often if those issues are corrected. His main wants and goals were based around more reasonable pricing, a reward system, more trains running on the weekend, and limiting the amount of people in the subway carts, which all relate to the original problems listed above.

Secondary Persona:

For our secondary persona, we focused on someone who visits NYC occasionally for work. She’s someone who has trouble navigating through the subway system, and is also very worried about her safety, specifically at night, and is also worried about the overwhelming amount of people.

My job was to focus on her goals, wants, needs, and fears. After looking at all of the problems that were listed as issues that needed to be solved, it was pretty easy to identify what she would want and not want based off her background story. And also because I somewhat fit in her shoes. I don’t travel to NYC for work specifically, but I do visit multiple times every year, so a lot of the things that I have a problem with align with her as well.

After tackling the goals, wants, needs, and fears, I realized that all of these are intertwined with each other, and without one, you can’t have the other. And it’s a lot easier to think about each of these specific things when you can empathize and put yourself in that person’s shoes. Thinking about things that you would want/need makes it easier to understand the problems we want to solve, and possible solutions to those issues. Which then leads us into the actual ideas of what it is that we want to create as a final product.

So after finishing up our personas, we were able to use that information to start thinking of possible solutions to solve the problems that needed to fixed. The ideas that we came up with were:

  1. Riding more safely, which can encompass many different safety ideas
  2. A rewards/loyalty program, which would incentivize riding on the subway
  3. Some kind of integration of a navigation system within the MTA app to make it easier to figure out where you’re going
  4. A status board for real time updates on subway information, as well as integrated navigation


I never really understood the importance of creating user personas and the impact they had on your overall process, but this assignment has definitely opened me up to a completely different perspective and understanding of how big of a role it plays into research work. Without having a persona, especially ones that are very detailed and thorough, it makes it harder to recognize certain issues that need to be fixed. But when you look at it as if it were a real live person that faces real life problems, it makes it easier to develop solutions that will actually help them out, especially when it comes to solving real life problems like we are doing with public transportation.



Kendra Barber

graphic designer @ a fin tech startup, grad student @ nyu, aspiring uxe