Basic Design Thinking tools - Personas, Journey Maps and Stakeholder Maps
Updated: Oct 24, 2019
Design Thinking is all about understanding the user. Users may be our external customers, employees or even society members. Design Thinking tools enable us to understand who these people are through personas, how they experience our service through journey maps, and who else plays a role in the experience through stakeholder mapping.
Journey Maps, Personas and Stakeholder Maps are three brilliant tools which help us understand and visualise user experience. Just like tools in a tool box, there are multiple uses to each tool. It’s the same as using a screwdriver to put up that picture on the wall you have been procrastinating to do for so long, and then using the same screwdriver to open up a bottle of beer and enjoy the masterpiece.
Let’s have a look at each tool.
When you look at a finished Persona Sheet, you will see a person with identity, character and demographics. But this Persona is not just any haphazard person.
In a persona building workshop, we gather all that we know about typical users, and draw up an archetype of those characteristics. We get an energised conversation going around who our users are as people. Both statistical data as well as front facing employees, are very valuable in this exercise. At the end of the workshop we end up with a Persona, or a small number of Personas, whom everyone can identify with.
The Persona document will embody a typical user, and by the end of the workshop they will have a name as well. Take a moment to look at Sandy's Persona Sheet. It is much easier, and more personalised, to create a product for Sandy, than it is to create a product for users aged between 35 and 45, medium income bracket, and having an average spend of €x.
The concept behind a Journey Map, is charting the different stages behind the experience that a user has. It also takes into consideration various factors in each step. These factors can include storyboards, descriptions of the experience, emotions, engagement, and involvement from different people within the organisation, to name a few. A Journey Map has many uses, and it can be adapted to chart from an individual interaction to the full user lifecycle.
There is a lot of value in going through the exercise of charting a Journey Map since it:
Allows you to think in detail what lies beneath each experience
Identifies what are the different stages of the journey
Pinpoints where are the moments of truth
Clarifies how long this journey takes and whether all steps are necessary
Visualises journeys for new products, and highlights actions that need to be taken
In the end, a Journey Map gives you visibility of the stages which a user goes through. If you think you already know it all…I have been there. Try it out just once, and see the wealth of information you manage to get out of it. Believe me, it is an aha moment when you see it all depicted in front of you with all the pain points and the silly extra steps you are torturing yourself with.
When we attempt to understand our user's experience, we often realise that neither the user is alone, nor are we alone in an organisation. The Stakeholder Map is a tool that helps us understand the ecosystem behind a user. It enables us to think, and ask some pertinent questions like: Who else is our user dealing with? Who are the closest stakeholders and who are the ones with least impact? What is the type of relationship that exists between our user, and each of their stakeholders?
The map itself is a chart made up of concentric circles starting with the closest and most affecting stakeholders in the middle, and branching out to the less important ones at the outer circle. It gives us the visibility we need, to understand whether there are other stakeholders whom we need to keep in mind when designing a holistic solution for our user.
Wrapping It Up
When it comes to drawing up these tools, in their very basic form, each of these can be a couple of markers on a whiteboard. Upping it up a notch, spreadsheets and regular software can be used for creating and sharing these documents. If on the other hand you can afford investing a bit of money and want something that is online, easy to use, professional and holds a repository of all your documents, software such as Smaply work magic.
Reach out if you would like to know more about implementing these tools in your organisation.
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