Moving from Research to Ideation: Women’s March as Case Study

Feb 1, 2017 · 6 min read

There comes a point in a project when you acknowledge the need to shift from collecting information about users’ needs to designing solutions for them. The concept phase of Planet 4 is at this exact moment. After researching user habits, creating a set of archetypes and performing interviews to confirm or invalidate these, the time to turn such archetypes into real people who will visit has come.

On February 6, the project team will directly apply all lessons learned to the product offering during the Experience Design work week. The primary goal is to transition from research to ideation.

For the purpose of explaining how we might approach converting visitors into engaged change agents, the Planet 4 design team decided to use the recent Women’s Marches as a case study for design activities. Although a Women’s March activist may not be specifically interested in Greenpeace issues, their path to civic engagement is similar enough to be useful for examination and used as an example.

For the purpose of this case study, Aurora Jones will be our persona. Personas are fictional characters that represent the users in your experience. For Planet 4 we made archetypes which by comparison, are modeled around specific behaviors. She is an imaginary woman created after interviewing several participants of the various marches all over the world. Aurora doesn’t consider herself to be politically active, however she finds herself deeply impacted and frustrated by issues that are championed by Donald J. Trump.

Personas are fictional characters based on the habits and goals of real people. Image credit

What are her motivations for activism?

To engage with someone like Aurora, we need to understand her motivations prior to getting involved with a march or other act of civic activism. A good starting point is to create an empathy map, a collaborative tool used to gain a better understanding of the psychological mindset of a user at any given point during his/her experience with a product, an organization or a brand.

Putting ourselves in Aurora’s (or another archetype) shoes to imagine “What is she saying? Thinking? Doing? Feeling?” was an effective way to understand the problem space.

Aurora's empathy map

What are sample user goals related to Planet 4?

Now that we (sort of) know who these Planet 4 users potentially are, what they are possibly thinking and feeling, we need to identify their goals. To achieve this, the Jobs to be done framework is a powerful enabler. The concept was popularized by designers at Intercom. Here’s how they describe the framework: “[…] frame every design problem in a Job, focusing on the triggering event or situation, the motivation and goal, and the intended outcome.” This can be done using this fun little fill in the blank prompt:

When _____ , I want to _____ , so I can _____ .

Here’s what I came up with for Aurora:

When I am feeling frustrated about the current political situation, I want to connect with like-minded individuals, so I can feel hopeful.

When the inauguration of this president happens, I want to voice my disapproval publicly, so I can show my friends and family that I don’t agree with him or his values.

How might users achieve their goals?

After writing Aurora’s jobs, a little more brainstorm to come up with specific, achievable actions was needed. One way to do this is to try to identify S.M.A.R.T. goals (Specific, Measurable, Agreed upon, Realistic and Time — based). On a high level this means aligning Aurora’s motivations to the larger initiative’s (for Planet 4, this will be Greenpeace’s) goals.

For this brainstorming I did some journey mapping, which forced me to imagine how Aurora got from thinking and feeling to more “S.M.A.R.T.” goal(s).

I took sticky notes and wrote down everything she might do (or think about doing) from the second she started to get frustrated to the point that she was spurred into action. I noticed that her process from awareness to first engagement activity mapped nicely to the Greenpeace Six Stages of Supporter Engagement, so I layered that on top of her actions.

Credits: Joe White @ Greenpeace

Here's what the Six Stages look like for Aurora's journey mapping exercise.

Click on the image to see it enlarged.

In the map above, the stages of engagement are at the top, the concrete steps Aurora may have taken are in the middle and at the bottom are the touchpoints Aurora may have engaged in (in business context, a touchpoint is any point of contact between a buyer and a seller). For the purpose of this project, we have been thinking of them as any time Aurora connected in some way with another entity to achieve her job stories. There is an interesting back and forth between static, interactive and human types of touchpoints.

How might we identify the opportunity to enable a better user experience?

While there are many potential ways to improve this experience for Aurora, it’s fair to say (based on the mapping activity) that the biggest engagement opportunity for an action-enabler happens right after a persona like Aurora returns from her first protest or offline activity. To determine this, I did a mind mapping activity with my colleague, Susan Robertson, to visually cluster like-minded ideas. We specifically focused on how to get Aurora re-engaged after her first civic action. Susan remembered a tinyletter post she read about 3 specific actions to take after a protest, that was our inspiration to frame the thinking outlined below.

How to get Aurora re-engaged after her first civic action?

Good brainstorming, but a lot still needed to be done to actually make it real for Aurora. A simple kanban board was enough to write out and track her potential actions, resulting in a to do list Aurora might write herself.

That’s where we are now, in the transition from research to ideation.

Throughout next week, the whole project team will try to break the “to do” list in Planet 4 by filing issues and then using the Agile view in Jira.

After brainstorming, mind mapping and journey mapping, we will deep-dive into each “to do”. The result of this will hopefully be more emergent ideas, low fidelity sketches and rough wireframes for the user experience of Aurora (and by extension,

An opportunity for collaboration

Because we know not everyone can physically attend an event, we have designed the work week to be inclusive. Starting with this post, the team will openly communicate ideas and outcomes through documentation and calls to action for the entire Planet 4 community.

Get involved! Here are three simple ways to stay in the loop with the process :

  • Watch this space and give feedback directly on the posts that will be published throughout the week. Please don’t be shy!
  • Tweet at (and follow) #GPP4, everything that happens will be posted there.
  • Join the Greenpeace community call of Feb 14th (what a great chance to share some more love and discuss the outcomes from the work week!)

Planet 4

Planet 4 is the codename for the complete redesign of This project will be developed using open principles, and this Medium Publication will be the central hub for news and updates pertaining to the Planet 4 project. Learn more at


Written by

Tinkering as much as possible. Currently @wikimedia. I'm the co-founder of the NYC Open Source Design meet up. @mozilla alum. @processingorg fellow

Planet 4

Planet 4

Planet 4 is the codename for the complete redesign of This project will be developed using open principles, and this Medium Publication will be the central hub for news and updates pertaining to the Planet 4 project. Learn more at

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