The Power of Personas and How Might We Questions in User-Centric Design

Victor Leung
3 min readJun 9, 2024


During my recent project, two concepts that resonated with me deeply were the creation of personas and the use of “how might we” questions. These concepts proved essential in shaping a user-centric approach that directly addressed our client’s challenges and needs.

The Impact of Personas

Creating a detailed persona for Alexa Tan allowed us to understand and empathize with our target audience’s needs, motivations, and pain points. This persona guided our solutions to be more user-centric and user-friendly, ensuring we addressed real concerns and delivered real value. By focusing on Alexa’s specific characteristics and behaviors, we could tailor our strategies and designs to meet her needs effectively.

In my previous role as a Technical Lead at HSBC, personas were invaluable in understanding the diverse needs of our customers. For instance, while working on a mobile payment project, we developed detailed personas for various stakeholders, such as Shopee users participating in midnight sales in Malaysia. This approach helped us tailor our core banking solutions to meet specific needs, significantly enhancing client satisfaction. Personas provided a clear and focused understanding of different user groups, enabling us to design solutions that resonated with them.

The Role of “How Might We” Questions

The “how might we” statement was another crucial tool that helped us systematically generate and organize ideas by focusing on specific enablers, such as technology. This approach fostered structured brainstorming sessions, leading to innovative solutions tailored to our persona’s needs. The “how might we” questions allowed us to explore various possibilities and prioritize the most impactful ideas.

At HSBC, the “how might we” statement was particularly effective during brainstorming sessions aimed at reducing transaction failure rates. By framing our challenges as questions, we systematically explored innovative solutions within the user journey. This included using different browsers and examining logs at various times. This structured approach ensured that our solutions were aligned with the bank’s regulatory requirements and technological capabilities, leading to successful project outcomes.

Applying These Concepts at Thought Machine

In my current role as a Solution Architect at Thought Machine, personas remain a fundamental tool for deeply understanding our clients’ unique needs and challenges. By creating detailed personas, we can tailor our solutions more precisely, ensuring that our core banking systems address specific pain points and deliver maximum value. For example, developing personas for different banking users, such as young Vietnamese consumers, guides us in customizing features that meet their strategic objectives, such as enabling QR code payments for buying coffee.

The “how might we” statement continues to be instrumental in brainstorming and prioritizing innovative solutions. By framing challenges as questions, I can lead my team in systematically exploring and organizing ideas. This comprehensive approach to problem-solving is particularly useful in developing new functionalities for our Vault core banking product or proposing enhancements to existing systems.


The integration of personas and “how might we” questions into our project workflows has proven to be transformative. These concepts ensure that we remain focused on the user’s needs and challenges, driving innovation and delivering user-centric solutions. By applying these principles, we enhance our ability to create impactful, client-centric solutions that drive business success and client satisfaction.

Originally published at



Victor Leung

I write about business, technology and personal development