This is a walk through of how I created Evergage’s product personas followed by a reflection of how I would have created them today.
My own objective was to familiarize the team and company with our users and work towards a more user focused product. I was the user advocate on the team and wanted to give the target user a voice and our team a more user focused direction. The ultimate goal was a step closer to user centered design. I was able to create the first B2B personas with the support of our CTO.
To identify and understand Evergage’s target users and use the findings and personas to design and build a more intuitive platform.
Evergage is a personalization and customer data platform that provides companies with business solutions to increase revenue and loyalty. The data can be used to target the right users for a 1-1 personalized experience across channels - web, mobile, and email.
The platform is robust and used by many different structured and sized teams across different industries with different business strategies. We needed to identify the key players and for which parts of the platform. The platform was growing and evolving with the market and potential business opportunity. We needed to account for where the business was and where we wanted it to be.
The UX team - Myself, the CTO, and the UX Director. A subsection of the Engineering team.
My role - To plan, project manage, and execute.
To keep everyone aligned. With such a robust platform and user base it was very important for us to understand who we were designing for and their goals. The hope was that the Personas would define the primary users and give us the guidance to design and build for them and not for everyone. If you design for everyone, you’re designing for no one. And where’s the fun in that? In addition, we’re small but mighty. Personas will allow our team to stay aligned and account for user goals when we don’t have the resources to do discovery user research to kickstart a project.
Based on that high-level strategy, these are the 5 steps that I took to define our product personas.
I created a google doc that held the requirements and a the project timeline. I factored in the time I would need for my other design work and for the usual “design emergencies.”
Key Metrics to Track We didn’t have official metrics, but we could have measured success by the change in renewal rate or change in our in app NPS score before and after the release of the personas. We can also get a sense of how the team and company talks about our users before and after.
A little background, as a B2B company we need our platform to help our clients’ achieve their business goals. As a UX team we were tasked with helping our CTO define the platform based on those goals and design a great user experience for the individual platform users.
We chose the accounts first because we wanted to ensure that our target clients were being represented. As a growing start up, our target market has evolved from low to mid market, to mid to high market, to mid market to enterprise companies. Our client base ranges from low market to enterprise companies.
We aimed to select about 30 accounts because we determined that was the appropriate number to create a relevant sample set. To find the accounts I used Salesforce to pull a report of our 300+ clients sorted by revenue. My CTO and I reviewed the accounts. First, we looked at the top 30 and removed all those with low product usage and no growth potential. If they might fit the revenue requirement, but won’t use us, they are not target companies. Second, we looked at the rest and added those with either a strong use case or what we considered a target business account. We had a list of 28 accounts.
We wanted to identify and understand the power users and the most important users for each account.
The most important users are the ones who are either responsible or have influence over their Evergage renewal. We need to design the product to achieve the influencer’s business goals so they renew.
The power users are the ones who use the platform daily and / or consider Evergage a crucial part of their job. We need to design the features to allow them to efficiently and easily complete their required tasks.
I created a set of questions to understand the key information about our users. I reviewed it with my CTO to ensure it aligned with our product strategy. From that discussion I added the two questions, “How often do you work cross teams” and “How often do you work cross channel.” These additions are important for us to improve the information architecture because the platform is multi channel that is used in collaboration by many teams. For example, if the web and mobile teams work very closely together then we will improve the workflow that is conducive to those team’s collaboration.
To start the process I had a rough idea of who we would need to talk to because of my prior experience working with the clients. We utilized our strong relationship with our Customer Success (CS) team who works closely with those top accounts and have a good idea of their key players and their organizations’ structure.
I met with the CS managers for each of the selected accounts. These were recorded conversations where they answered the set of questions for the power user, important user, and other notable users to the best of their ability. When I was facilitating it was crucial that I made the CS team feel like they were being helpful and any unanswered questions was not a reflection of their management abilities.
I reviewed the recordings and analyzed the data. There were 60 names of users and the information about each ranged from a sentence description to a completed questionnaire. Next, my CTO and I discussed the findings. We decided to move forward with 25 of the 60 users.
Challenge: You have to start somewhere. At the time, our company was not in a position to conduct in depth user interviews with the selected external users. Most of the users in the selected accounts were too busy for an interview and we didn’t have the bandwidth to plan, conduct, and analyze all the interviews.
Solution: Use what you got! I used the indirect information from those CS meetings and other internal resources that included previous user tests, Evergage on Evergage (our own usage and behavior data), and notes logged in Salesforce. This information will be biased to some degree, but will be accurate enough for a useful starting point.
Since I was using the indirect information I had already gathered some of the data. To organize the information I created a user profile for each of those 25 selected users to include all of the relevant information from the CS team. To complete the profiles I used the indirect sources mentioned above. I reviewed each of the user’s account in Evergage to understand their product usage, reviewed their profile in Salesforce, and revisited my findings from previous user tests. Once I collected everything I could, I set up follow up meetings with the respective account managers to fill in the rest of the information on user profiles.
Challenge: Data overload! We wanted to make sure we were getting enough data, but not too much data. As I was collecting the information, it seemed like there was a lot of helpful information for future features and helpful context to understand the user. The information the CS team gave us on each user varied, so the extra important information varied. I tried to keep the profiles as consistent as I could.
Solution: Extra notes and move on. I created an additional notes section at the end to capture any information that might be helpful in the future. I added high level notes so I can refer back and re-listen to the video in the future.
We had 25 user profiles that were about 80% complete. For our resources that was good enough. This is where the magic happened -- I analyzed the data, found the patterns, and put it all together.
To start, I printed out the user profile and grouped them based on similar goals and functions and previous assumptions. A few patterns I saw were campaign builder vs non campaign builder, strategy vs non strategy, managers vs non managers
Then, I created a table in google docs for each group to better compare the users. I reviewed the information and moved around a few users to other groups.
The Analyst, Merchandiser, Executive, and Email Marketer roles were on the right track and just added more details. The technical campaign builder, the hybrid campaign builder, and the manager roles evolved.
Once I created the first iteration of the personas I added them into the product management program, Aha!. At this point I reviewed them with the Product team, the Customer Success team, the Marketing team.
The Customer Success team questioned the difference between the three roles. This prompted us to dive deeper into the roles and modify them.
Through our research we realized that the hybrid campaign builder was more of a strategic campaign builder.
I made those changes and presented the official Evergage personas to the CS team, Marketing Team, UX Team. The teams were excited to see the UX team defining our users and creating direction.
These personas were crucial to helping the team and company more forward. The UX, Engineering, and CS teams used the personas to communicate new features, designs, and the product vision. The personas were used in project and feature definition. The personas were referenced in conversations like, “what persona will use this feature.
The user profiles created were repurposed. A good portion of the users selected participated in future user tests and research. I used their profiles to help me decide which user to select and then to give me and the team context for those tests.
The personas shown were task and role based and they served the team well. For the next iteration, I would clear any prior assumptions and start clean. This means not primarily focusing on the user’s role, but whether or not they are a power or important user. And really look at the patterns and do a more focused affinity mapping with deeper information from in depth user interviews.