User Interview & Persona Development

The objective of the research

The research was undertaken on the front of funnel marketing pages for RMIT Online experience to answer the following issues:

  • Over the next year, we may have 10s of courses
  • Many related industry partners
  • Courses could be sold individually, in connected consecutive programs and/or programs of independent but related courses

Team members

I partnered with the project manager for conducting the user interviews and recruitment of the participants. We engaged the stakeholders (product and marketing team) to observe the interviews and team members to note-taking.

My role

  • Plan the research method
  • Recruitment
  • Conducting the interviews
  • Analysis
  • Creating Personas
  • Persona sketches

Research method

Blended approach Interviews with 7 sets of prospects/leads/students:

  • Interested but not enrolled
  • Enrolled (not started)
  • Enrolled (recently started, mid-course)
  • Completed
  • Mixture of gender
  • Family status (family with and without kids)

Recruiting Looked at sales leads with Marketing and across enrolment demographics to understand

Data capture Used the voice recorder to record the interview and note taking by the team members.


From this research we wanted to understand these how might we (HMW) statement:

  • how might the value of credentials in relation to RMIT and the strategic partner encourage better lead generation and conversion
  • how might the value of a skills matching and recommendation service help students make the right choices about courses
  • how might the student’s lifestyle and requirements affect their enrolment choices and conversion to enrolment
  • how might the exposure of community and slack in the marketing experience help prospects understand the value of our course community and mentors
  • how might the exposure of mentors in the value proposition of course with strategic partnerships affect potential conversion 
  • how might we manage the spare time of professional enrolled students to encourage them to complete their courses successfully
  • how might we encourage students to manage their time and enrol in other courses in order to build their careers and become lifelong learners
  • how might we educate students to learn about the nature of online study in order to be successful when they enrol
  • how might we make payment process easy with diverse methods for the students’ instant decision making to enrol


I synthesised the user interview by affinity mapping:

  • Demographic and background of the participants
  • Learning experience
  • First online study experience (and RMIT Online experience)
  • Triggers and motivations
  • Money
  • Time commitment (time fit into their lives)
  • Outcomes
  • Industry connection (mentors and industry partners)
  • Pain points
Affinity Mapping

Research Insights

After grouping into those above categories, I realised there are overlapped opinions and thoughts. They fall into two overall experiences as those who want to change their careers and the ones want to upskill their knowledge.

Users needs

Time commitment is the biggest pain point for short course students.

Users time commitment and pain points

Persona Development

I started re-grouping according to two types of user experiences and their needs.

Upskill case persona re-grouping

When I created these personas, it was purely research-based. I used their pain points and their goals. The quotes are what the users emphasised. I also added their “fear, motivations and goals” in the personas. When the users have goals, they act on (use) the products. Motivations come before the act, and usually, it comes from fear or positive impact.

Sum-up the synthesised elements as a persona

Creating a persona is not always necessary and it does not work for all features/ products. However, it can be the guide to empathise the users when the early stage of the product development or the business. Don’t forget to use it and share when you creat it or when you alreay have it!

Persona Sketches

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