Westech (14 West) is the internal tech company for a larger marketing organization. They provide tools and digital products for a group of marketing companies.
When joining the company they were part way through a transformation to improve efficiency and solidify an agile methodology. There was a desire to embrace design thinking and user-centricity but not many steps had been taken in that direction. Collaborating with my product manager, executive team, and sister company design team we developed a living and evolving plan to increase company knowledge and excitement of user-centricity.
Another issue facing the company was a lack of insight into our clients and their businesses. Their needs, workflow, and how they used the products 14 West was currently offering.
We realized early on there wouldn’t be a one size fits all solution plus our company’s unique structure and history would make adoption challenging.
We decided on a phased quarterly rollout to include:
- Persona + client journey map (our MVP)
- Service map
- Client customer journey map + Personas
- Product perception surveys
Planning and research
Planning was the first step in the personas process. We laid out our goals, steps, concerns, and stakeholders. Then through interviews with team members and clients, we defined the different personas needed based on roles within our client’s organizations.
Our next step was to set up and run persona workshops with a cross-functional and cross-team group. We used our persona template which was more similar to an empathy map. Demographic info and bios weren’t critical to us. Our focus was on goals, habits/touchpoints, needs/motivations, and pain points.
We started with an internal team only workshop so we could test and compare the assumptions within the company.
Next, we ran the same workshop with clients. This allowed us to not only ensure our personas were accurate but share the differences between the company’s assumptions and the client’s feedback. We combined these findings with observations and interviews I was running with clients.
Synthesis + style
The word synthesis, it sounds fancy and important. It is one of those buzzwords that is pretty accurate and critical though. We combined the workshop results and distilled them down into concise, high-priority, and easy-to-read content chunks.
Then we styled it to be as easy to consume as possible, our goal was to remove anything less than critical and help people grasp these personas at a glance but still dig a bit deeper if they wanted.
Feedback, tweaks, and launch
Collaboration and feedback are important in these full company initiatives. It helps people across teams and org levels share a sense of ownership and excitement about them. When you create this adoption is higher and much easier.
We presented the process and personas (along with the journey map) first to the executive team to gather and work in their feedback. After that, we were good to record an explanation video on them and share with the full company.
The personas and journey maps live in the design team’s Confluence space along with other user-centric resources.
Creating the first journey map followed a similar process to the personas.
First, we planned our process and then followed it. Some of the content from personas spilled over into the journey map which helped us jump-start the workshop canvas.
Our focus for the client journey map was detailing a client creating and launching a marketing effort.
Speaking of the workshop, that was step two. I drew inspiration from standard journey map workshops and tweaked it to be specific to our use case, built the canvas, and facilitated the workshops.
Again we did internal team workshops first then with clients to compare our assumptions to the reality. Being new to the company both my product manager and I learned a ton about the company’s services and products through these workshops. It was great onboarding for us both.
Synthesis + style
After synthesizing these workshops to get our content ready I explored a few style options for the map itself. We decided to give the emotion portion visual priority to draw people’s eyes straight to our largest problem areas.
Feedback, tweaks, and launch
This first iteration journey map was presented alongside the personas, tweaked after feedback, then shared to the full company with a video overview as well. To keep these up to date and accurate all personas and journey maps included an expiration date to ensure we updated each quarter with our new findings.
Quickly we saw the value added with this journey map and repeated this process to create more versions:
Show the backstage actions that make the actions within the client journey map possible. This area was a black hole of knowledge in most teams so our goal was to increase team knowledge of these systems and other teams.
Client customer journey map
A more traditional end customer Journey Map for our team members to understand these customers more. We not only wanted our team members to understand our direct clients but also the customers those clients market to.
Interactive client journey map
A lightweight, no-code interactive version (spoiler alert it’s a Figma prototype) of the client journey map where people can highlight a persona and see where and how they are involved within the full journey.
Product perception survey
We also needed to get a pulse on current feelings about the company’s products. There had been scattered research previously but most was out of date and overly complex. We structured a simplified survey for our clients to get us a benchmark. After collecting responses and synthesizing them into a report we presented the findings to leadership along with suggested actions and a schedule for repeating this survey. This survey is run twice a year now and the results are shared with the full company.
Involvement in research
Throughout the whole process (and the continuing work) we made it a point to involve people outside of the design team like engineers, product owners, and more. Our goal was to promote company-wide user-centric thinking so involving others not only increases this knowledge it also creates shared ownership and excitement.
This is a long journey with continual improvements needed but the results so far have been fantastic. The journey maps have been cited as helping team members understand our client’s tasks and our products/services. Personas are referenced in user/job stories and in meetings.
Teams are thinking about and solving their problems differently now and including more user research and feedback.
Our clients have noticed too. The perception of certain products has been rising over the last year and teams have been getting positive feedback. The increase in research, usability testing, workshops, and more have boosted the feeling of co-creation with our clients. They feel that their feedback is truly being taken into consideration and the product is more usable for them. Here are a few quotes from clients:
"This has been the best new product integration I have been a part, with the affiliate's feedback being truly taken into account and be given regular updates on progress. It's what we have been asking for for a very long time"
“...These products are 10x better and more usable when these two groups with different expertise work together.”
"...a great example in creating a new product with business owners and actual day to day users involved in planning."