Proven Need

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The Importance of Personas and User Journeys

Fiona MacDougall

UX Lead

If you want to build a valued product that you can be sure your customers will love, you first need to understand who your customer is. Behaviour, motivations and needs are all factors that need to be discovered in order to create the correct journey.

Key takeaways

  • Understanding your customer saves time in the long run;
  • It will be a lot easier to build a great product if you can truely understand the motivations and pains of your target customer;
  • Some companies will need multiple personas and user journeys as each serve different needs.


Customer discovery

We've seen first hand what happens when startups try to skip or take a shortcut through customer discovery. They rush to blindly build a product and target it at the customers they think it will attract. This can often lead a product or service that adds less (or no) value to their real customers. By talking to your users early on (before designing or building anything) you will be in a much better position to understand your customers goals, motivations and pains.

Educated decisions on branding and UX can be made with the confidence that you are implementing features that appeal to the right audience. Nobody is misguided, work is not wasted and value will definitely be added.


After conducting interviews with around 40 target customers you can consolidate the insights and start to identify common themes and patterns. From here, you divide the personas into categories: their motivators, tasks and content needs. Included in this is basic background info: name, age, job title, location and relationship status. You can also discover more complex details such as what motivates them, their device usage, technological understanding/engagement and communication preferences. This reveals where they are most likely to engage with the product; whether it’s at home, at work or on-the-go which is very important. The information gained in the interviews also offers you a good base from which to understand which frustrations you want to ease and which needs you must meet. 

At this stage you will probably see more than one persona emerge from the interview data. Multiple personas simple capture and compare the different needs and behaviours of core groups of users. It is great to identify them all at a high level, however, we advise focusing on 1-3 core personas.

A persona can include the following information:

  • Demographic - age, location, education, bio
  • Goals / needs / motivations
  • Frustrations
  • Habits (behavioural and consumer)
  • Quotes

alex persona

User journey map

Once you have defined your core personas you can map out their current experience of using you prpduct or service (or their existing solution). A user journey map tracks what a user does, thinks and feels when they come to different touch points in their journey. On the map you should clearly indicate the positive highlights and the negative pain points. 

Having an honest visual representation of your customers emtional experience enables you to quickly spot areas for improvments. Next you need to determine how big the negative impact is on your customer (is it important or not?) and agree where it is most important for you want to focus your attention and elevate the experience. 

This attention to detail will ensure that you are building a product that your target audience will love and it also helps the team to truly understand the customers that they are trying to communicate with.

A user journey map usually includes:

  • Start point
  • End point
  • Touch points in-between (post, phone call, website engagement)
    • Identify pain points or highlights
    • Note the emotions and thoughts - include quotes if you can
    • Add comments

alex user journey  

In understanding personas and their behaviours we are able to design a better experience and a better product. It will also help to create a strong brand that has crafted an experience for a precisely defined audience. This will ensure maximum engagement and, hopefully, more users.

Useful links


Fiona MacDougall

UX Lead

Fiona’s love of consumer psychology, behavioural economics, and future technologies led her to the world of user experience design. She helps early stage start-ups to uncover customer insights, explore radical solutions and test ideas.

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