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Karol Oponowicz
UX Design

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.


Creating User Personas is sometimes a 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 the need they have and the problem you solve for them. You need to know their incentives and motivations.

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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.

Prior knowledge

Who is this product for? For a regular user or a professional? What do users know about similar existing products? What are their expectations for this product? Are they using similar products from your competitors?

Context of usage

Where and when is the product used? Where are the users physically located? What are the circumstances of use around? Are they focused only on the product? Can something distract them 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

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 competition, reward, recognition, and respect or maybe fear?

Name with a quote

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.

Profile photo / drawing

It's good when the User Persona has a face. Sketching just for fun during the workshops is always a good way to chill :)
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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 on the other side of your digital product, there are members of your clients' organization, 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 clients business goals? That's the essence of your clients' 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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