A beginners guide to building and presenting a persona.

If you have made a character in a video game, you can create a persona. Photo: Photo by Sergio Rodriguez on Unsplash.
If you have made a character in a video game, you can create a persona. Photo: Photo by Sergio Rodriguez on Unsplash.

Here is the good news: if you have ever created an avatar on a website or a video game, congratulations, you have experience in creating a persona: you can totally do this. Here is the bad news: in creating a persona, there really isn’t a right or wrong way to do it, and that can be overwhelming, especially if you are a designer like me and are prone to getting into rabbit holes easily.

Persona basics

The way I approach creating personas is that I apply structure to them at the outset so…


“More is better” isn’t necessarily the case when it comes to brainstorming sessions. Adding structure to your brainstorming sessions can help generate more quality ideas with minimal fuss.

If you’re a designer you have been there: a “brainstorming” session where only one, or at most two, people are contributing. It’s frustrating and often does not produce the desired results, which is to get into divergent thinking, considering different ways to do things, and making connections that you would not ordinarily make.

Photo by Patrick Perkins on Unsplash
Photo by Patrick Perkins on Unsplash
Photo by Patrick Perkins on Unsplash

I have witnessed brainstorming sessions with stakeholders who are not confident at all in their own creativity. It can…


How to use a creative challenge to spark inspiration and gain confidence in building your creative skillset.

Photo of an ink pen by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash
Photo of an ink pen by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

If you’re reading this, I’m a lot like you: a professional designer who had been by fall 2020 working from home for over six months living in a radically shrunken world.

A very large part of this shrunken world for me has been the online meeting. While it has been an essential part of doing my job, it is also exhausting for me as an introvert with clinical anxiety and chronic depression. For example, I still ask myself questions every day like:

  • Will…


UX Designers hear all kinds of excuses from companies who don’t want to do any user research or testing. This is why cutting research and testing costs much more time and money than it saves.

post-its on a wall showing common user experience research tasks
post-its on a wall showing common user experience research tasks
Image: David Travis/Unsplash

I’ve been a designer in the digital space for over 20 years now. If you worked with me for any amount of time, you will hear me defend user testing as a practice, and I will probably get unusually animated about it. …


You can add OOUX to your toolset to strengthen your UX process and dramatically improve your discovery phases. I go through the full process here step by step.

Using Object-oriented UX will transform your discovery process
Using Object-oriented UX will transform your discovery process
Photo by Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash

I recently completed my certification as an Object-Oriented UX (OOUX) Strategist, and this was my project for the duration of the class. Here, I go through the process of OOUX, step by step, in context. While this methodology may seem complex at the outset, especially if you, like me, have done UX for any length of time, I was able to use this process to make a better prototype.

If you want…


How to use OOUX to make sense of the mess and quickly make a difference on an existing site, by a quick discovery round and retrofitting existing assets.

When you want tacos, you want to eat, not deal with a messy interface. Photo by Jeswin Thomas on Unsplash
When you want tacos, you want to eat, not deal with a messy interface. Photo by Jeswin Thomas on Unsplash
When you want tacos, you want to eat, not deal with a messy interface. Photo by Jeswin Thomas on Unsplash

I recently earned my certification as an Object-Oriented UX professional and I made this presentation, originally in Mural, as part of hosting a Lunch & Learn session for my UX colleagues at InformedXP.

Object-Oriented UX, also known as OOUX, is a UX process that unwraps complexity by way of focusing on navigation elements as easy-to-recognize nouns, in keeping with how brains learn and work. Ideally, this practice is done as part of…


Playing around with basic shapes is a great way to learn Adobe Illustrator, so why not learn by playing with making an icon set?

I have been drawing for most of my life. Pen, marker, or pencil I have been able to use those tools, since childhood, to make something that people are able to recognize and understand quickly.

I have been using Adobe Illustrator for digital drawing for a very long time, but I still remember what it was like using it for the first time.

I wanted to make a digital logo for my new freelance business, halftank…


Adobe Illustrator has always been a bear to learn, even if you have a design background. This is because most tutorials aren’t made for people who learn visually.

command 1 to zoom to 100% view
command 1 to zoom to 100% view

Hi, my name is Mary. I’ve been a designer for a long time and have even taught design at University level.

I’m writing because I know a lot of people struggle with Adobe Illustrator. Obviously I think it’s great, but I wanted to explain why:

Adobe Illustrator has saved my butt, on multiple occasions. Really.

One time a few years ago, when I was a UX Designer at an unusually stressful job…

mary mahling carns

#UX Designer and Strategist. I care more about typography than I probably should ❤️💚💙 for life 👀

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