“Proto-personas give an organization a starting point from which to begin evaluating their products and to create some early design hypotheses. They’re also helpful in initiating and reinforcing corporate awareness of the customer’s point of view to ensure it’s included in strategic planning. This is especially true when the creators of these proto-personas are in a position to affect the company’s strategic direction.”
A proto-journey is a way to achieve this if you want to explore persona behavior with more context over time.
Show of hands: who loves customer journey maps?
Yeah! I think of them as personas plus spacetime. The journey shows you where the persona is when certain experiences occur.
Or, as Megan Grocki writes in How to Create a Customer Journey Map:
“A Customer Journey map is a visual or graphic interpretation of the overall story from an individual’s perspective of their relationship with an organization, service, product or brand, over time and across channels.”
Rick is like you and me; sometimes his internet connection breaks and he needs someone to come over and fix it. My two-person team was tasked to explore ways to increase Rick’s advocacy of a service we’re designing around this kind of field repair.
Both the product owner and product manager were traveling and the design team on the MVP, who had designed the surrounding experience, was busy. We were alone and uncertain.
We gathered notes, assumptions and aligned with the product manager over Slack and Trello. A proto-persona existed and the service’s experience design was outlined.
My engineer teammate, Russell Wolf, wanted to level up his design skills, so I suggested we sketch a quick customer journey map. He would get to learn a new design technique and we would cobble some insights out of this process. We also reframed the design prompt: How might we raise Rick’s delight so that he advocates the service?
Some of our goals for sketching were:
- Empathize with our persona, Rick, so we might find ways to increase his overall delight with the service
- Align our assumptions about Rick’s experience with the rest of the team’s documented assumptions
- Share something with the rest of the team that will help them further empathize with Rick
- Provide future research with some assumptions to validate around making Rick an advocate for the service
About 30 minutes later, we had 80% of it done. When the two designers who created the MVP were ready, we walked them through the journey. At the end of about an hour, we had this:
The product manager couldn’t read our whiteboard scrawling, so I digitized it. I wanted to keep the digital fidelity low enough to emphasize the “proto” in proto-journey, lest someone get carried away and think this is fully-baked. This took about an hour at a thoughtful pace.
“Emphasize the “proto” in proto-journey.”
Not enough time has gone by to summarize any outcomes. Research to validate this journey has not even begun.
When could this work?
“Like proto-personas, a proto-journey can help bootstrap empathy and team alignment.”
Like proto-personas, a proto-journey can help bootstrap empathy and team alignment. I suggest creating proto-personas or research-backed personas beforehand so that the proto-journey creation is about plotting behavior to contexts and times.
What I will do different next time
Get the whole team in the room brainstorming. We had assumptions documented from a broader team, so that was sufficient, but aligning the team in the moment would be more powerful.