Transforming Personas and Journey Maps to Experiences that Drive Results

These days, companies across all industries are focused on improving customer experiences through the use of new and often disruptive digital technologies. For many, the first step in making these improvements is defining detailed customer personas and documenting customer journey maps. While these are certainly important tools for understanding customer pain points, intentions, behaviors, and motivations, the real power behind these artifacts can only be realized if they can be translated into actual physical experiences.

Many companies will embark on customer experience projects and put a tremendous amount of time and energy into conducting customer interviews, observations, and surveys. They will then document detailed analysis of customer demographics, profiles, and journeys through a variety of artifacts in various formats (i.e. personas and journey maps). Those artifacts can accurately reflect diverse customer profiles and the full array of interactions customers have with and around your company. They can also help to define digital initiative opportunities where technology can be used to enhance or possibly replace existing customer interactions. They are insightful and often appreciated by business executives as accurate windows into customers views, opinions, and interactions.

This is where far too many companies’ efforts to improve the customer experience run into issues delivering value: the real value of those artifacts is only unlocked when that treasure trove of insight into customers can be utilized in the form of digital sites, apps, portals, or other computer systems. The designs of those systems should reflect the insights within the personas and journey maps and drive behaviors that delight customers and support intended business outcomes.

While it sounds simple enough, companies often struggle with connecting these artifacts to actual system designs and development initiatives that drive the right behaviors. They expect the information provided within personas and journey maps to simply inform the designs within IT’s development methodology. However, for most IT-based design and development teams, that can be a struggle. Many times, requirements or functional/technical design documents are created at best by making broad assumptions about these artifacts, or at worst, without even utilizing them.

Connecting Personas and Journey Maps to Designs and Wireframes

Example Persona Grid

At Maven Wave, our approach to UX and system design includes two deliverables that fill the gap: Persona Grids and Persona Maps.

Persona Grids extend the persona details into behavioral patterns that can be divided into a customized 4×4 grid that designates how those behaviors can be described and mapped along a spectrum from low to high behavioral adoption. Thus, each persona is mapped to a behavioral designation based on its particular placement within the behavioral grid.  This extends the typical persona profile details to reflect the behavioral aspects of each persona.

In the example below, we are using an example from the travel industry, Salient Travel. The x-axis spectrum is “Airline Allegiance” or how loyal a customer is to a particular airline. The sub-spectrum is how likely a customer is to use a 3rd party booking site. On the y-axis, the spectrum is “Comfort Online” with a sub-spectrum of the customer’s perception of how difficult it is to book travel online. Based on these parameters, Salient Travel’s ideal customer is Surfing Site Sam, who has high allegiance to a specific airline, does not use 3rd party booking sites, and is very comfortable booking travel online.  On the other hand, Power User Paul may be one of the best opportunities for conversion, as he is comfortable online and somewhat loyal, but tends to use 3rd party sites to book travel.

The next step is to create a Persona Map to designate a specific persona pathway through the Persona Grid – highlighting how the behavioral changes along the way will achieve the intended business results. The Persona Map describes motivational design themes that represent those changes in behavior. The motivational design themes can be directly translated into components, widgets or functions in the eventual system design wireframes.

Below we demonstrate how to move Power User Paul to become a more loyal customer. The Persona Map goes into greater detail about this user’s goals, challenges, and motivations. As you can see under the motivational design theme section, there are a few ideas for how to enhance Paul’s experience with Salient that may motivate him to purchase more frequently. For example, Paul would like to see competitive price guarantees when booking or post booking travel support.

Example Persona Map

Example Spotlight Design

For many of our clients, we will create Spotlight Designs that showcase how common motivational design themes listed across the different Persona Maps will manifest themselves into screen design elements. While the Spotlight Designs are not intended to be the final systems designs, they do form the basis of what the actual wireframes and screens will end up including as part of an agile design and development process.

A Spotlight Design brings together a number of the motivational design themes defined across the Persona Maps into a layout of the actual screen-based experience for the customer. Spotlight Designs are also great tools to communicate, evangelize, justify and promote the new customer experience prior to starting a more detailed design and development initiative.

Our Maven Wave behavioral and motivation design-driven approach leveraging Persona Grids, Persona Maps and Spotlight Designs can help you get tangible design value from your user research efforts. This approach can also be utilized from existing persona and journey maps no matter how or when they were created. Contact us for more information on how to get started!