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17.12.2019 | 3 min

User Journey Mapping in Practice. Part 2: Working with Users and User Personas

UJM is a user-centered methodology. No wonder, that you need to research, define and select your users carefully before the workshops. In many cases, we don't have access to real users' data or interviews. That's why we are working with User Personas. A UP is your target group personalized and merged into one persona. A User Persona is a set of characteristics typical for one of your users' types.

User Journey Mapping in Practice. Part 2: Working with Users and User Personas - 2022 37
Table of Contents
  • Interviews and field research results form the basis of the best personas.
  • Here's how we usually describe our User Personas
  • Some final hints

User Journey Mapping is a user-centered methodology. No wonder, that you need to research, define and select your users carefully before the workshops. In many cases, we don't have access to real users, data, or interviews. That's why we are working with User Personas. A UP is your target group personalized and merged into one persona. A User Persona is a set of characteristics typical for one of your users' types.


Creating User Personas is sometimes speculation. But only by doing it, you can get as close to the user context as possible. You need to know each UP very well, especially their need and the problem you solve for them. You need to know their incentives and motivations.

User Journey Map

Interviews and field research results form the basis of the best personas.

You always need to interview users or people representing the different User Personas before you'll start the workshops. And it's always a good idea to have real users attend the User Journey Workshops.

It's a good idea to have two separate interviews with a representative of your critical User Personas. During the first, you can define the value proposition, and during the second, you can negotiate the best solutions with the user and sketch our the scenario that you will follow while building the UJM.

Here's how we usually describe our User Personas

You start by defining the most important actor (User Persona), based on your clients' business goals, and find the answer to the questions.

User Personas

📚 Prior knowledge

What does the user know about similar existing products? What are his expectations for this product? Is he using similar products from your competitors? Is he a regular user or a professional?

🏕 Context of Use

  • Where and when is the product used? (how frequently?)
  • Where is the user physically located?
  • What are the surroundings of the user while he is using the product?
  • Is the user-focused only on the product?
  • Can something distract the user during the process?
  • What is the device and user platform?

🤔 Problems

What are the well-described and real challenges that they want to solve by using our product or service? What are they expecting or hoping to solve with the product and how exactly?

🥊 Motivation - the main driving force

  • What internal or external force is pushing the user to act in a certain way and interact with your product?
  • What is the main motivation behind our users' behaviors? Is it a competition, reward, recognition, and respect, or maybe fear?

✍️ Personality - demographic portrait

When you have a lot of different User Personas in a project it's just easier to use a catchy naming style and one sentence that defines the person. That will let you identify them easier and faster. Focus on their characteristics, attributes, motivations, and their background - occupation / general characteristics / cultural background / education

🙌 Needs & Goals

  • What does the user want to achieve?
  • What outcome is he looking for?
  • What would make the users' life easier?

Some final hints

From our experience, you don't need the most basic demographic information on the UP, such as age, sex, residence. Focus on their characteristics, attributes, motivations, and their background.

If you have more than one UPs, attach some percentage weight labels to them, such as 10%, 50%, 40%, so you always keep in mind their importance.

Also, you need to know that the actors (UPs) are not only customers. You have to remember that there are members of your client's organization on the other side of your digital product, who often use it through a dashboard - that's why you also need to hear them out.

Also, try to figure out what are the key actor's goals? Do they align with your client's business goals? That's the essence of your client's business model and the UX design. Usually, these goals are totally different, but it's good to check and ask. For example: Would you trade your data in order to have this service for free?

OK, now you are ready to learn how to build your first User Journey Mapping!

Go to part 3!

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