The first rule of doing business is to keep your friends close, competitors closer and your customers at the very center. And if it isn’t so for you, then please go see the first rule and return once you’ve changed your mind. Customer journey mapping itself has ‘customer’ as its first word and so should you. Though in the CJM world, it is the almighty Persona who runs the show. The whole map is built around it. But what is this mystical persona, why do we need it and how do we create it?
What is this persona?
A persona is nothing but a gift box with a nice red bow on it. Inside the box, there’s everything you want to know about your customers – be it their expectations, wants and fears as well as their pains and gains. Speaking scientifically(ish), a persona is a collective image of a particular group of your customers that represents their behavioral patterns.
The way you describe personas is completely up to you, but we suggest you include the following sections:
- Demographic and sociographic characteristics such as age, sex, occupation, drivers and bummers.
- Customers’ objectives or in other words what exactly they do and how often they do it.
- Context i.e. when and where customers use your service.
Look at this persona example created in our persona building tool:
What’s in it for me?
You want to use personas for many things actually. But don’t take my word for it, see it for yourself:
- Personas let you understand your customer. Thinking about customers isn’t the same as looking at them – you believe it when you see it. Creating personas gives you that unique opportunity to see your service from the customer’s standpoint. You get to know their desires and motivations as well as their fears and frustrations. There’s one more nifty goody that comes with a persona image. When you stare at it hanging on your office wall, you start thinking differently. Even when you do not realize it, your decisions are influenced by personas. Relax, there is no voodooinsky here, just pure psychology.
- True to life persona brings consistency to your UX design process. It becomes sort of a beacon for your whole team and finally, you all are on the same page. No strings attach...well, on one condition and one condition only – you have to discuss the persona out loud. If not, then members of your gang may get a different perception of the persona and here you are - off the course, drifting in the waters of misunderstandings, implementing unwanted features.
- When designing for a specific persona you get to see the real flows in your service. That means you won’t be working on abstract UX, instead, you’ll be hitting bullseye 10 times out of 10.
And here’s how!
This may seem way over your head, but you can totally do it yourself. And even enjoy it because creating personas can be so much fun, provided you do it carefully. So here are the steps you’ll have to take:
- Speculate. Gather your whole team including front-liners as well as back-enders. Call in your patron. You can even invite a couple of real users. Feel free to invite whoever you think may deliver insights. You know the service you’re working on well enough to make some worthy assumptions. Let everyone suggest some ideas as for what your potential / real users may look like (look at them if they’re present). Test the assumptions with the following questions:
- What your typical users may look like?
- Are you thinking of real or ideal customers?
- When and for how long they interact with your service?
- Do they use it because they like it or are they forced to use it?
- Do they buy your product for themselves?
And finally, go ahead and try to draw an empathy map. Use it as a basis for your persona, but not as an alternative.
- Make a check. There’s nothing worse than realizing that your customer journey map is built upon fake users with unrealistic behavior. Okay, there may be something worse than this but don’t get distracted. Here’s what you can do.
- Study user profiles. If there’s no way to do that, gather statistics from your database. Send them an email poll. Be creative!
- Find someone who matches your persona description. Chances are you can find some users on social media by their profile data. Invite them to an interview. This will only help you see whether you’re steering into the right direction.
- It’s alive! By this time you must have collected a whole lot of different info. Now it’s time to isolate the worthy parts and keep the personas you’re going to work with from now on. We recommend that you:
- Don’t get carried away with that variety of personas and do stick with the main ones. Setting priority is important because you’ll need to keep perfecting them and it’s better that you have a couple of awesome personas than a dozen of lame ones. To figure out which are the main ask yourselves choose those who either bring more profit or are in majority or are in business priority.
- Don’t open a clone factory. Every time you feel like you want to make a new persona think how it would be different from the ones you already have. Look at the difference in behavior and goals.
- Do remove unnecessary details unless they add that flavor that makes you believe this persona is real. Photo and authentic name could be among worthy ones. What influence would other details have on the way you design your product? Keep asking this question every time you want to add a new feature to your persona.
- Do use a good photo and a suitable name. If you don’t believe the persona exists, there’ll be no magic.
All in all, treat your persona as a person but keep in mind her abstract nature. If you're still not sure whether your need personas in your organization, read these 3 reasons. Once you settled with this, season your knowledge with some more tips on creating personas and you’re good to go with building a customer journey map. Fortunately for you, UXPressia has a lot to offer. Like a mind-blowing persona building tool! Go ahead and start making personas and maps now with UXPressia!