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During this phase the product team works towards developing a prototype concept that can be tested with users.

Your product or service should be easy for people to understand and use. When developing a prototype of your product, it’s important to think about the experience from the point of view of the person using it. A design method called User Personas helps you gain empathy and clarity around people’s needs.

User Personas

User personas are developed after interviewing people who need to use your product or service. It describes a person’s behaviors, goals, attitudes, and skill levels. The purpose is to look at the product from their perspective and understand who they are, what they need, and why they need your product or service. The most important part is the goal, or the “why” behind it. Good personas are context-specific and focused on the behaviors and goals related to your specific product or service.

Tips from Perfecting Personas:

  • Personas represent behavior patterns, not job descriptions or demographics
  • Keep your persona set small, too many of them will all start to blur together
  • Focus on the right goals, for example how a person wants to feel when using a product, and what they get out of using your service

Example Persona

Here is an example of a persona for someone who regularly parks in downtown.

Persona: Service industry worker
Fictional name: Amanda Ramirez
Job title/ major responsibilities:  Assistant Manager at a Downtown restaurant
  • 23 years old
  • single
  • college student
Goals and tasks: She is driven and has good leadership skills. Money conscious, does not want to pay more than she needs to for parking, wants to feel safe when she is walking to her car from work at night. 
Skill levels: High digital literacy, uses her smartphone daily for social activities and for work applications, conducts most schoolwork and other tasks from a personal laptop.
Quote: "Making ends meet is always a challenge. Parking tickets force me to make tough decisions when it comes to my other monthly bills. Once I got my car towed and I had to get a loan from my parents to get my car back.”

Once you have created a set of user personas, you can move on to journey mapping to help guide your product design. 

Journey Mapping

Journey mapping is a visualization of a person’s step-by-step needs as they experience your product or service. This map shows the major interactions, including the complexity, successes, pain points, and emotions people have from start to finish.

Here are some templates to help you journey map:

Designing the product should be an iterative process. Think about how you can continuously collect feedback that will help you improve and evolve your product or service over time. This can be as simple as a “report an issue” form or a satisfaction survey. Make sure you keep a log of changes you make and why you made them.

Writing Good Content

The purpose of your product or service should be clear (i.e. why and when someone needs it) and the wording used throughout should be easy for people to understand without having a lot of prior knowledge. You can check for grade level readability using the free Hemingway app. The lower the grade level, the easier it is for people to understand and for automatic translation services to get right.


The objective of the design phase is to develop a prototype to test or experiment in the pilot phase. It can be a sketch, storyboard, model, or mock-up of an idea that people can interact with and provide feedback on. This interaction allows you to get early feedback on your ideas, test assumptions from your research, and learn more about what your users want and need. These experiments are low cost and help reduce the risk of larger, more expensive failures.

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