Developing student personas for digital strategies

Because of COVID-19, Christians all over the world have been forced to find new ways to minister, from a distance. One of the areas that I’ve been able to focus on because of the ways things turned out last year has been the ministry’s digital strategies and more specifically the Student Life website. I’ve been meeting with Karl (Tandem New Zealand) to lay the foundation for the online platform.

Our vision is to be able to journey together with people digitally all over the Pacific while still being able to connect them with workers on the ground that can help facilitate small steps on their spiritual growth journey.

To do this we’ve done a lot of research and gathered information through student surveys, staff interviews and sitting down with a smaller group of students to verify our assumptions.

Above are a few screenshots from our online brainstorming session with the staff team here in Fiji. The team used the whiteboard app Miro for this activity. Surprisingly, it was a very productive and engaging process with the staff team. In the past it’s been a challenge to work on things together remotely (thumbs-up to Miro).

Anyways, much of our discussion focused on the staff putting themselves in student’s shoes. There was also talk about their impressions on the types of students that were currently a part of the ministry and the types of students we wanted to attract. It was good because it also gave us an opportunity to talk about some of the gaps in our current system and to better understand student and ministry needs.

What we then created was a persona. A persona is a profile based on data that represents a group of users that have similar goals, pains, needs and behaviours. Personas help us know, love, and serve our users. Personas also help us focus our efforts on meeting our goals and the needs of our users.

Our persona is taken from a grid that allows us to identify groups of people by their placement on the Scale of Belief (x-axis), and the Level of Benefit they get from us (y-axis). When we talk digitally, we don’t speak to individuals, but rather people as a larger group through this framework.

The audience grid

We then took this persona, built around data collected from the surveys and on assumptions that the staff had made and sat down with a select group of students to provide feedback and to verify whether or not they could relate with the persona.

Persona focus group

Our prayer is that God would help us so that those we encounter are moving “upwards” and to the “right” on their spiritual journey so that they may eventually be able to guide others.

Our Persona

The first persona that we’ve developed falls into group K, so we’ve named her Kalesi.

Kalesi represents the most common student coming into Uni that eventually becomes a part of the ministry. Kalesi is a Pacific islander that has grown up in a Christian household yet is not currently experiencing any significant spiritual growth. Her main goal is to do well in school so that she would be able to give back to her family and somehow find a cause that she can contribute to.

Our aim as a campus ministry is to be able to connect with Kalesi(s) and be able to journey with her during her time on campus so that she can fulfil her dream of making a difference.

Currently, Karl and I are working on mapping out a way to best connect with and “win” the trust of Kalesi. So that we can have part of the website up and running by orientation week this first semester. (More on this soon.)

The next phase will look at creating a persona for the most unreached student on campus and figuring out pathways to reach them.

Appreciate your prayers as we continue to work on this.

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iTaukei (Fijian) missionary with Cru serving in the Pacific Islands alongside his wife Judith (ni-Vanuatu) and their two kids.

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