How to Write Personas and User Journeys

Personas and User Journeys

Let’s firstly understand each one in turn…

What are personas?

Fictional profiles or characters based on real insight in relation to the populations that will ultimately be impacted by your change program. You’re getting real factual evidence that reflects the key characteristics and the needs of whatever populations are going to be impacted for you. Let’s say this is a group of managers, for example, and you’re using the persona to really identify with the needs of that person and ultimately bring out what you think they’re going to need in terms of change solutions to support them with adoption and engagement. It really helps you to understand at a greater detailed level the specific user needs and behaviors of the people who’ll be impacted by your change. It helps to paint a picture of the key stakeholders involved in the change so that everyone understands these populations. It provides a really specific perspective of an experience so that you can see how different populations might differ in what they need in terms of how the change is going to impact them. It ultimately enables you to tailor your change program around their needs, helping to create adoption, helping to minimize resistance to change.

So how do you create personas?

You basically need to make sure they’re really believable and people can identify that this is describing this key population that we know in the business. You want to do that by gathering evidence, so that might come from doing surveys, interviews, focus groups, workshops on a particular group of people or a particular population. You want to analyze and segment them so that you know what the different groups might need, and you might have a persona for different segments because it depends on what their needs are. There’s going to be some review and validation, so get some subject matter experts, check across the business: do these seem right? Have we got their needs captured fully? And then you want to actually create them: write them up in a compelling comm so that people across the business can see them and understand how these are really helping them to see that this change is going to be really user-centric. We’ve really understood what that particular population needs and needs from the program. Over time, you might want to refresh them, just depending on where you are with your change and what else is going on in the business.

User Journeys:

User journeys are often used as an accompanying piece next to personas. They’re really about telling the story. So, where personas focus on the population- their characteristics and needs- user journeys focus on the journey people will be going through as they experience the change and come through to adoption. There are three common different types of user journeys:

  1. As-Is User Journeys – so that’s really just painting a picture of why change is needed now. What’s the other situation that we’re basically going to be moving away from? Let’s talk about what doesn’t work currently.

  2. To-Be User Journeys – user journeys that just focus on the future state. The “to-be” – where we’re going to get to and what the future will therefore look like for this particular persona or transition.

  3. Both – showing the “as-is,” why it doesn’t work + the ‘to-be’- going from the current state to the future. This focuses on why things are really good and why they work effectively, and emphasizes the person’s experience, not the process. It’s really bringing to life through people and characters that ultimately your different populations and employees can engage with.

How do you create user journeys?

You really want to think about what the objectives are for the journey. What’s going to be most effective for your program and your business? Do you want to show the future state? Is that the key thing, or is it more important to really highlight what doesn’t work now so that people really get it? Think about who you want to work with on this. Do clients potentially want to feed in to make this really effective? What subject matter experts might you need to talk to? Really bring it to life. People who really understand the day-to-day of how people’s work is currently done and therefore what’s going to be improved about that. Also, just consider the structure in terms of how you might want to show touchpoints and interactions between stakeholders as part of that journey if that’s relevant. Just consider what’s going to be the most impactful for you.

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