Creating persona maps is one of the best ways to get a solid grasp of your customer base and better understand their perspective. Doing this, however, can be a daunting task when you aren’t sure what templates to use and how to access them.

This guide will briefly review our persona map definition and the major touchpoints to be successful with them and run through our favorite persona maps to nail down your customer base. If you’re interested in learning more about how to use persona maps and other templates, check out our guide to visual collaboration.

Persona Map Review

Persona maps are defined in our comprehensive guide as “Persona maps are abstract portfolios that represent your principal user. While they are fictional, they embody very realistic attributes that personify your consumers. They usually entail users’ assumptions, attitudes, association with your product/service, and even their personal life”.

Persona maps and user personas are different entities but intertwined in most scenarios, and must be understood together. The user persona is a creation of a principal user that interacts with the given product/service and represents a customer conglomerate. 

This persona is aggregated from various user-profiles and is created based on the traits those customers share. The user persona will often represent the values of an archetype rather than a specific person’s characteristics. These values combined with some fictional persona details creates a persona that operates as a realistic customer sample.

Team working to create a persona map

While a user persona represents the user’s character, persona maps take that user and visualize their experience as they use a product or experience a specific journey. 

Persona maps are usually created to brainstorm ways to increase customer experience. CX has become an extremely important facet of gaining and retaining customers, and visualizing the experience of a principal user is a fantastic way to break down what they experience and where it can be optimized.

Because of this, persona maps often take unique journeys through the user’s experience. Persona maps sometimes will include a brief customer journey and vice versa, but the main goal of a persona map is to target and understand the intentions and perspective of the principal user. This is different from a customer journey map where the intention is to map out different stages in a given customer experience.

Now that we have a solid understanding of what persona maps are and how they’re unique, let’s dive into the best persona maps to use with online whiteboards.

Best Persona Maps on Fresco

Persona Grid

The persona grid is a more common example of a persona map and begins with identifying the surface level details and the identity of the principal user. This step is critical to creating empathy for the user, which is a necessary step to achieve an accurate understanding.

The next step in completing the persona grid is detailing the other demographics that describe the principal user. These will be pieces of information that didn’t quite fit with the surface level details and can include their job title, place of residence, hobbies, etc.

After the identity section is complete it’s time to move on to the section for behaviors and actions. This section is crucial to optimizing the experience of the user and will detail all of the actions that they take during their interactions. These behaviors could be them navigating the website/product, what they read, or things they purchase.

Fresco's persona grid, on of our best persona maps

The last important point is diagramming the pain points that the customer experiences. This is where you begin to think about what the customer needs out of your product that they aren’t yet receiving. 

Pain points are not limited to absent features and also can include things that are currently available but not providing an optimal experience. In a sentence, pain points will be the biggest struggles the user experiences while interacting with your product/service.

These pain points are critical in understanding the persona you’re designing for, and will often reflect the areas that require the most improvement.

These sections are critical to the success of the persona grid, and once completed you should have an accurate image of the principal user that is being designed for.

Persona Diagram

The persona diagram focuses on slightly different details than the persona map but is still a very effective template to target and optimize the user’s experience. This diagram looks more at the feedback and attitude that the customer presents, rather than creating a mock persona as an example.

Because this diagram is focused on feedback and attitudes, it effectively aggregates the opinions of many different users to create an overarching document that doesn’t assume the identity of the user but creates it based on their feedback.

Due to the responsive nature of this template, it is usually best suited for teams auditing an experience rather than designing a new one.

The persona diagram begins similarly to the persona grid, by creating a description of the principal user base that the template will focus on. This should include details about their demographic, age, name, and their professional details.

After completing the personal info section, the board quickly moves on to describe the goals and attitudes of the principal user. This information can be drawn from the feedback they’ve provided or can come from an inference based on their personal details and their use cases. 

It should usually be fairly obvious to observe what their goals are based on their use of the product/service, but it might take better inference to figure out their attitudes about the experience. Their attitudes are still very important because they provide a key insight into the experience that they have and where it can be improved.

After figuring out their attitudes and goals, the next step is diagramming the feedback that you have received directly from the user. This feedback will be incredibly formative in understanding the pain points of the users and where their experience can be enhanced, and often will help paint a fuller picture of them as well.

After understanding this feedback you can begin to develop solutions that are focused on the problems the user’s experience, and how the solutions presented will help solve those problems in direct relation to the goals and attitudes they have.

Fresco's empathy map, one of our best persona maps

Empathy Map

The empathy map is described very fittingly and prompts many questions about how to best drive empathy for your principal user. In the middle of the board, there is a section to describe your persona. Just like any other persona map, this section is meant to detail the information and demographics of your principal user.

The next four sections ask guiding questions to prompt the feelings and actions that the principal user might feel/experience as they interact with your product/service.

The first is “does”. This prompts consideration of the tasks that your customer achieves during their interaction. Think about how these tasks relate to the overall goals of the customer while using the product/service. Their overall goals will relate to the problem that they’re attempting to solve through the product, and if the product is helping to achieve that goal.

The next section is “think”. This is another obvious one and should entail the things that the customer thinks as they perform their tasks. Think about the tasks that are listed in the “does” section and how they process them during their completion. What is their attitude towards the tasks while doing them? Why do they feel that way?

After “think’, the board moves onto the “say” section. This portion is similar to a feedback column and is where you transition from what they think while doing their tasks to what they say while doing them. This could be to their peers or directly to you. Either way, it’s important to uncover this information to directly expose their motivations for using the product.

Finally, the board ends with the “Feel” section. This is where you delve into how they feel about doing their tasks, why they say what they do, and their real motivations for interacting with the product. This should be a culmination of the rest of the sections and along with the “say” section should help expose the true goals and motivations of using the product.

After the board is complete, these sections should all say something unique about the motivations, feelings, and actions that the principal user takes while interacting with the product.

Persona Map Advantages

Helps Diversify Perspectives

One of the most important parts of persona mapping is the ability to diversify the lens through which you see your customer’s problems. When creating persona maps, instead of asking “how will I experience this feature?”, you ask “how will Jane experience this feature?”

This fundamental shift in perspective means that you no longer have a narrow view of how you would interpret a given situation and can expand your viewpoint to accompany the experience of a proposed user.

Being able to walk in someone else’s shoes during persona mapping is vital to its success, and when you have a team of people doing the same thing it can be very effective in creating multiple understandings of a customer’s journey.

Creates Empathy

It’s not surprising that creating empathy is one of the biggest advantages of using persona maps, as some of the best persona diagrams are simply empathy maps.

Creating empathy is similar to diversifying perspectives in that its main importance is to understand the tribulations of the customer and derive solutions based on these struggles. 

User persona example

When creating empathy for the user the main goal is to not only understand where they’re coming from and the various problems that they experience but to drive solutions based on those specific issues. This is only possible if you have a solid understanding of where the customer is coming from and how they feel about their experience. Because of the ability to effectively create empathy for a given user persona, persona maps are some of the best templates to understand customers and create solutions for them.

Drives Direct Solutions

Driving empathy is the first step in understanding the customer and their feelings, but the ultimate goal of most persona maps is to create sustainable solutions that address the needs of the user.

When having a solid understanding of the needs and problems of the users, you are enabled in creating solutions that are guaranteed to address the problems they experience. Without creating this empathy, the solutions that are created for customers may seem effective but in reality, fail to address the root causes of their issues.

For this reason, using persona maps is critical in developing innovative solutions that benefit the users.

Conclusion

Persona maps are some of the best diagrams to create solutions for your customers, but whether you’re looking for a quick fix or just hoping to better understand your customers, using these persona maps are some of the best ways to achieve your customer-facing goals. If you want to learn how to integrate persona maps and customer journey maps into team activities, check out our guide to virtual workshops here.


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