Case Study

NWEA Persona Development + Journey Maps

NWEA (Northwest Education Alliance) has been providing assessment solutions to K-12 educators in the U.S. and around the world for nearly 40 years. Their primary software offering, the MAP Suite, has helped thousands of educators assess the effectiveness of their teachings by evaluating student understanding and providing tools to help them proactively create lesson plans to meet the needs of all students.

They wanted to learn more about the full user journeys of their three audience segments: teachers, school/district administrators, and state leaders.


How can we better reach our three main audience segments?

Persona profiles and journey maps are an excellent way to empathize with different types of users and uncover opportunities to reach these users through NWEA’s website and professional learning offerings.


Teachers are the end users for NWEA, but they acknowledged that their website and documentation doesn't prioritize reaching them. Our final deliverable included persona/journey maps for two different teachers, highlighting the diversity in teacher experiences.

School & District Leaders

This engagement buyer group was a priority for us. Our final deliverable for this segment included one persona/journey map for a school leader and one for a district leader, highlighting the differences between these two groups of users that have traditionally been grouped together by NWEA.

State Leaders

This segment was a secondary priority for us, as NWEA has only recently expanded their offerings to include state contracts. Our end deliverable included two persona / journey maps that are in hypothesis form, with the recommendation to complete further research to validate.

Secondary Research


Industry Background

None of our team members at Roboboogie had prior experience working with clients in the education space, so we started the project by conducting desk research about our two primary audience segments to get caught up on common problems that contemporary educators experience.

Our intent with this research was to learn more about micro and macro factors that have impacted educators in recent years. We found that educators are faced with adversity from all angles, from unexpected changes in work environments during the COVID pandemic to political polarization.


Educational changes that stemmed from the COVID pandemic have heavily impacted teachers, with more teachers reporting high levels of stress and burnout.

The “culture wars” have brought mainstream attention to how teachers are talking to their students about polarizing topics like mask mandates, vaccinations, race theory and LGBTQ+ issues, and empowered parents and community members are quick to criticize views that go against their own.

Teachers are struggling to combat misinformation, both from students and their parents

Teachers make 23.5% less than people in other professions with similar levels of education and experience

Low wages, lack of respect, increased workloads, and political pressure have driven many educators to retire or seek another profession. Schools with low-income students and students of color are often more difficult to staff and hit harder by these


50% of school leaders say that their stress levels are so high that they are considering retirement or a career change.

As student mental health declines, many school leaders are working in a tense climate; 70% of school leaders report they have been threatened or attacked physically or verbally during the past year.

Studies have shown once a principal has been at a school for 5 years, they are significantly better at hiring teachers that will stick around. However, high principal turnover means most principals are hiring without that experience under their belt, which has a trickle down effect on school cultures.

While teachers have to manage a classroom of students, school leaders have to manage students, make sure teachers and staff have what they need, and keep parents happy, on top of maintaining communication with district leaders. It’s a big job with a lot of moving parts.

Principals have a huge impact on student success; nearly as large as the impact that teachers have on student success. Principals can positively impact students by focusing on hiring, developing, and coaching great teachers.


While 76% of the teacher workforce is female, only 30% of superintendents are female.

Between 2020 and 2022, 50% of the country’s largest school districts faced leadership changes, and many departing female district leaders were replaced with men.

Without federal policies surrounding COVID policies, district leaders were forced to make difficult public health decisions that had big implications for
students, families, and teachers in their districts.

In the current politically polarized environment, parents and activists on both sides of the spectrum have been vocal about what’s being taught to students, often airing grievances to district leaders and school boards. Dealing with these issues is time consuming, and diverts attention from teachers and students.


Stakeholder Discovery Interviews

We realized early on that NWEA team members are a unique group of stakeholders because many of them have prior experience working as educators, so they’re intimately familiar with the problems faced by educators. Before diving into interviews with users, we conducted stakeholder interviews to leverage that audience knowledge.

We also utilized this time to get feedback on NWEA’s website and current professional learning opportunities, which we leveraged later for our home page wireframes.


Need for Additional Learning Resources

Many teachers don’t fully understand how to use the data that they get from MAP products. They need quick, easy instruction that won’t get in the way of their time with students, and that’s currently not provided by NWEA.


Admins Want to Offer More Support to Teachers

As more educators struggle with stress and burnout, there are more Engagement Buyers that are interested in providing teachers with tools and resources that will support their classroom practice.


Simplified Flow for District Admins

Currently, the user flow for district leaders on is not clear. To reach this group, we need to clearly give them a path to find resources and content that they can share with their teachers.

Comparative Analysis

The comparative analysis was a chance to study features and flows that aren’t typically included in second-hand ecommerce competitor products, and identify potential areas that could use more research.


Video Content

Leaders in the fashion industry have been rapidly incorporating video and AR into their ecommerce experiences. TikTok offers UX patterns that users are familiar with, and video could potentially give shoppers more information about the things they’re shopping for.

Create a richer shopping experience for curated second-hand items.


Self-Service Lockers

Right now, I don’t think this product will facilitate actual purchases, but it certainly could be expanded to include purchases as part of the experience in the future. A self-service locker/delivery system like Amazon Locker would be a departure from other second-hand ecommerce experiences.

When/if purchases are included, research how users feel about self-service lockers for local pickup.

User Survey

The purpose of this survey was to gather quantitative insights about second-hand shopping habits and motivations. I was able to get a good sample size of responses by posting the survey to a Reddit sub dedicated to thrifting.


Thrifting While Traveling

87% of survey participants have visited a second- hand store while traveling


In Search of Treasures

88% of survey participants said that finding unique or interesting items is a reason they shop second-hand


Social Media has Potential

10% of participants follow second- hand sellers on social media AND have purchased something that they saw posted

33% of participants follow second- hand sellers on social media but have never made a purchase. This means they are engaging with the content that sellers are posting, which is a big opportunity.

User Interviews

The purpose of user interviews is to gather qualitative insights about pain points and successes that users experience while shopping second-hand. Participants ranged from age 20 to 47, and they all have purchased something second-hand in the past year.


Thrifting as a Leisure or Social Activity

Multiple interview participants indicated that second-hand shopping isn’t something they do out of necessity; it’s something they do for fun, often with friends or family.

“For me, it’s all about finding things that are interesting, and seeing things you never would otherwise.”

Multiple Stores per Trip

All four participants said that they often visit multiple stores on a second-hand shopping trip. Shopping second-hand isn’t the most efficient way to shop, and people are ok with that.

“[Second-hand shopping] takes patience and time. If you rush, you’ll miss all the best things.”

Benefits to Shopping In-Person

All four participants have used ecommerce apps (Poshmark, ThredUp, or Depop) before, but they all indicated that second-hand shopping in person has distinct benefits, such as avoiding shipping costs, accurately seeing the condition of the item, and having the ability to try things on before purchasing.

“Sometimes the condition of things is overstated by sellers online. I like being able to see and touch things for myself.”


Personas & User Journeys

Using insights and findings from my survey and user interviews, I created two personas and accompanying user journey maps that follow each persona on a shopping trip.



Frugal & Local


Find something to wear to an upcoming gig she has with her band



The Tourist


Find stylish second-hand clothes for spring & summer while visiting his friend Natasha



DripLo is a platform for shoppers to discover local independent second-hand clothing stores and boutiques.

DripLo helps shoppers manage the unique challenges they face when shopping for second-hand clothing.



So far my research has focused only on shoppers and their experience.

Sellers / Stores

For the sake of scope and timing, I have not conducted research yet on the needs of second-hand sellers, but talking directly to sellers is an important next step that will inform future iterations of DripLo.



Urban dictionary definition: A cool & stylish outfit



Lo = local

Low / Mid-Fidelity Wireframes

The purpose of these wireframes was to build the initial UX framework for this product that will be used later to create a high-fidelity working prototype.


For store discovery by location, I looked to Yelp and their map functionality. I also studied their Collections feature as a relevant example for the Itinerary feature that I want to include.

For video content, I looked to Instagram Reels and TikTok. TikTok currently has over 700 million users worldwide, so it’s safe to say that their UX patterns are familiar for many users, and these patterns have been adopted by Instagram Reels as well.


Instagram Reels


Branding & Design System

Next, I created a design system for DripLo that included a logo, typography system, color palette, and basic components to be used in the high-fidelity working prototype.


Given the popularity of second-hand shopping with Millennials and Zoomers, it was important that DripLo’s branding feel young, contemporary and vibrant. To kick off the branding process, I created a mood board (below) to inform marketing and UI.

Design + Test

High-Fidelity Prototype + Iteration from User Testing


Once it was finally time for  prototyping, I was excited to dive into Figma and apply my findings thus far, then iterate based on testing insights.

I had a list of features and flows that I was interested in exploring and limited time to pursue them, so I narrowed that list down using the opportunities that I had found in user journey maps. I added the other features to my Next Steps to explore in the future.


Social Feed of Recent Videos by Local Second-Hand Sellers

A second-hand store is as good as their inventory right now.

Many sellers already use TikTok & Instagram Reels to give their followers an idea of what’s in the store at any given time. Importing that content while it’s relevant gives users a real-time look at their favorite stores.


Video Swiping = Successful

I wanted to validate that users understood how to use the TikTok video swiping UX pattern, and aren’t overwhelmed by the inclusion of full-screen videos, so I had users complete a task that involved swiping through video content.

5 out of 5 people said they “loved” the experience of swiping through videos

5 out of 6 people said they knew to swipe up to navigate through video content


User-Created Shopping Itineraries

Second-hand shopping often involves multiple stores. 

Shoppers can plan a second-hand shopping trip by adding stores to personal itineraries, and add notes about their favorite stores. Yelp’s UX pattern for Collections was an inspiration for this feature, with the addition of recent video content for stores that have recently posted to social media.


Heart Iconography = Not So Clear

In my initial prototype design, a heart icon was used to indicate adding a store to an itinerary. When users were asked if it was clear that they were supposed to use the heart icon to add a store to an itinerary, users were split – 2 said yes, 3 said no.

For this reason, I changed the iconography from a heart to a plus sign for the time being, but since the split was so close, I would like to spend more time testing different iconography to validate the plus, and potentially test other iterations of this icon.



Layla uses itineraries to keep a running list of her favorite vintage stores in her neighborhood that are close enough that she can get there by bike.



Before his trip, Luther uses itineraries to save stores that he’s interested in.


Map Search Functionality for Store Discovery

Finding nearby stores is helpful to both tourists and locals.

Filters give users the ability to narrow down their results and find stores by budget or distance.


Map Swiping = Successful​

I wanted to validate that users understood the interaction and microinteractions when swiping through stores on a map.

6 out of 6 users said that it was at least somewhat easy to find a store by horizontally swiping (following a UX pattern made popular by Yelp) on the Discover/Map screen.



Transportation is a pain point for Layla, so she uses the map to find stores that are in her direct neighborhood



Luther is planning a trip in a city he’s unfamiliar with; a map helps him find stores that are in the same area to reduce the amount of driving he’ll have to do.

Wrap Up

Learnings and Personal Insights

I learned so much about the product design process throughout this project and throughout the MPS in UX Design program at MICA, and I also learned about my own personal work style.


Respect the scope!

During both the research and design processes, I found that it was very easy to get distracted and excited about possibilities and opportunities that fall outside of the scope. That being said, I learned that revisiting the scope often helps confirm that priorities are correct and workload is moving in the right direction.


Finding my place in the industry

When I started the MPS UX Design program at MICA, I assumed I would gravitate towards UI and visual design, since my background is in graphic design. In this project though, I was most enthusiastic about the research and strategy part of the process.

I’ve used Adobe XD a lot, but I chose to use Figma for prototyping on this project. I was less efficient than I would have been using XD, but I learned so much about Figma’s prototyping capabilities, and I’m excited to use it more in the future.


Have a reason for everything you do

A guest speaker in an earlier course was asked to give parting advice about working in UX Design, and her response was, “Have a reason for everything you do.” 

This project taught me that there’s a lot of flexibility within the both the product research and design processes, as long as you can confidently explain why you approached it that way. UX Design is both an art and a science, and creative ideas can be pursued as long as that choice can be backed up with data or insights.

Next Steps

I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished with this project, but there are many other things I would want to do to fully pursue the concept and consider the entire audience.


Research seller user needs

To get a full picture of both user groups, I will need to talk with second-hand sellers. By learning what their personal pain points are, I’ll gain insights to inform  how I could iterate on DripLo’s current features with those needs in mind, and what new features could be added to support this user group.


Clean up product User Interface

The Aesthetic Usability Effect states that users perceive beautiful products to be more usable. Creating beautiful UI takes a lot of time, and I didn’t have as much time as I wanted to focus solely on DripLo’s UI and visual design. I think there are some things I could do to improve the look & feel of the product and make the experience overall feel more professional.


Explore features and flows that were out of scope

  • Curated itineraries and collaboration with influencers

  • Event calendar + notify users about upcoming vintage events

  • “Post your haul” – encourage users to post content about their purchases and tag where they bought them

Thank You!

Thanks for taking the time to read about my experience with DripLo!
Shoot me an email at [email protected] with any feedback, questions or comments.