What is an Empathy Map to a Persona?
Reading Time 4 mins
When creating new services or products you can ensure you genuinely meet the end-user's needs with Personas, but another informative method is Empathy Maps that can build into personas. Personas help you create detailed profiles of your target users, giving you a deeper understanding of who they are, their goals, and what motivates them. On the other hand, empathy maps dive into the specific experiences and emotions of individual users, helping you empathize with their joys, frustrations, and needs. By using these methods, you can go beyond assumptions and truly connect with your users, ensuring that your designs and services are user-centered and deliver meaningful experiences that delight users and customers. In both cases they externalize knowledge about users in order to 1) create a shared understanding of user needs, and 2) aid in business decision making.
The key differences between empathy mapping and personas lie in their focus and level of detail. Here are the explicit differences:
- Focus: Empathy mapping focuses on understanding the emotions, thoughts, behaviors, and needs of a non-identified individual user during a specific experience or journey. It delves into the user's perspective and aims to uncover deeper insights into their emotional motivations and pain points. Personas, on the other hand, is a fictional characterization of many users that can represent multiple broad user groups and provide a holistic view of their story, specific characteristics, frustrations, goals, behaviors, and needs.
- Level of Detail: Empathy maps capture specific details and nuances of an individual user's experience, often in a visual format. They highlight specific observations, quotes, and key moments to deepen empathy and understanding. Personas, in contrast, provide a visual representation of user segments. They aggregate data and insights from many users to create a categorized composite profile that helps guide business decision-making and design efforts.
The process of using these methods typically involves a collaborative visualization following these outlined steps.
By understanding these differences and following the respective processes, teams can gain valuable insights and create user-centered solutions that meet the needs of individual users and broader user segments alike.
Interaction Design Foundation: https://public-media.interaction-design.org/pdf/Empathy-Map.pdf
Nielsen Norman Group: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/empathy-mapping/
HCD Methods- Empathy Maps: Empathy Maps
HCD Methods-Personas: Personas
Personas, Customer Segmentation and Target Groups – How do they work together?
Reading Time 6 min
This is a short and insightful article about what are the differences between Personas, Customer Segmentation and Target Groups, and how these three tasks work together.
Most of us know and use personas, a fictional representation or archetype of a specific user. It is created to help development teams understand and empathize with the needs, behaviors, motivations, and goals of their users.
Personas are typically based on research data and observations of real users, providing a way to humanize and visualize the intended audience. By using personas, design teams can make more informed decisions during the design process, ensuring that their products or services effectively address the needs and preferences of the users.
|Customer Segmentation||Example: To help explain here’s an example of customer segmentation for a fitness apparel company:||By segmenting the customer market, the fitness apparel company can develop specific product offerings, dedicated services and create communications that resonate with each specific segment's unique needs and preferences.|
|Customer segmentation is the process of dividing a larger market or customers into distinct groups or segments based on specific characteristics, behaviors, or demographics. The goal of customer segmentation is to identify and understand different subgroups within a market that share similar needs, preferences, or behaviors. By segmenting customers, teams can tailor their strategies, products, and services to effectively meet the unique needs of each segment. Customer segmentation allows teams and leaders to target their resources more efficiently, improve customer satisfaction, and drive better marketing outcomes by delivering more relevant and personalized experiences to different customer groups.|
Segment 1: Fitness Enthusiasts
Segment 2: Yoga and Pilates Practitioners
Segment 3: Outdoor Adventurers
Segment 4: Beginner Fitness Participants
|Target Group||Example: By targeting this specific group, the fitness apparel company can develop products and services that cater to the preferences and needs of active women in their 20s-30s. This may involve creating stylish and versatile clothing lines, leveraging social media and influencer collaborations for promotion, and emphasizing the combination of fashion and functionality in their product messaging.|
|A target group, also known as a target audience or target market, refers to a specific segment of consumers or individuals that a team or organization aims to reach and engage with through its products and services. The target group is identified based on various factors such as demographics (age, gender, income, location), psychographics (lifestyle, values, interests, stages of life), behavior (purchasing habits, usage patterns, need drivers), or other relevant characteristics. The target group represents the primary recipients or potential customers who are most likely to have a need or interest in what the business offers. By defining a target group, teams and leaders can focus their business strategies, messaging, and product development efforts to effectively cater to the needs and preferences of this specific audience.|
Target Group: Active Women in their 20s-30s
How do these three methods work together?
This is a five-point roadmap for how to consider aligning and how to interplay personas, customer segmentations, and target groups in an integrated effort.
- Develop Customer Segmentation: Start by identifying and segmenting your customer base based on relevant criteria such as demographics, psychographics, behavior, or other key factors. This will help you understand the different groups of customers you are targeting and their specific needs.
- Create Personas: Use the insights from customer segmentation to create detailed differentiated personas that represent each identified customer segment. Personas are fictional characters that embody the characteristics, goals, and behaviors of the target customers within each segment. Personas provide a humanized understanding of your customers, and their pain points and help guide decision-making throughout the design and development process.
- Align Target Groups: Map each persona to the respective customer segment it represents. This ensures that the personas accurately reflect the characteristics and needs of the target groups. By aligning personas with the target groups, you ensure that the personas are relevant and representative of the customers you are trying to reach.
- Integrate Efforts: Use personas and customer segmentations to guide various projects and activities. This includes UX development, customer experience design, and communication strategies. Consider the unique needs, preferences, and behaviors of each persona and target group when making decisions and designing experiences.
- Continuous Feedback and Iteration: Regularly update and refine your personas and customer segmentations based on new insights, market trends, and customer feedback. Ensure that the personas and target groups remain aligned and reflect the evolving characteristics of your customer base.
By harmonizing the use of personas, customer segmentations, and target groups, you can create a more unified and customer-centric approach throughout your project and programs. This integration enables more targeted and personalized strategies, leading to better customer understanding, improved products/services, and more effective marketing efforts.
User Personas Need to Evolve
Reading Time 6 Mins
UX designers often create user personas that are aesthetically pleasing but contain irrelevant details, diminishing their usefulness for teams. Furthermore, these personas often lack important contextual information and user behaviors that highlight the challenges and frustrations faced by users. Without these critical details, personas become mere deliverables, failing to fulfill their intended purpose of bridging the gap between design teams and the people they aim to assist. What personas truly require is relevance, a quality that is often sacrificed in the pursuit of simplicity and speed.
Why rethink personas?
According to Alan Cooper's book "About Face," designers and teams often mistakenly use "user profile" interchangeably with "user persona," although the two concepts differ significantly. While a profile is a high-level description of a user avatar, a persona is rooted in real users and derived from user research and observations. Personas offer a precise framework for understanding and communicating user behavior, thoughts, goals, and motivations. They serve as a gateway to comprehend user behavior and foster inclusivity and equity in product and service design.
What’s wrong with personas
Internet examples of user personas often prioritize visual appeal over effective communication of content. While aesthetics are important, overly simplified personas offer limited value to UX teams, leading to doubts about their usefulness. The confusion and problems associated with personas go beyond simplicity and misunderstanding. Unclear purposes for creating personas can divert focus to visuals rather than information. While personas can serve as deliverables, they are primarily intended to foster empathy among design teams and provide insights to team members who didn't directly engage in user research. They should be self-explanatory and enable interaction designers to grasp user needs even without direct involvement in the initial research.
Surface at best, stereotypical at worst
Many user personas overly emphasize demographic details, leading to shallow understandings and the potential for biased stereotypes based on gender, ethnicity, age, and economic status. Stereotypes perpetuate surface-level assumptions that simplify the social world but hinder problem-solving for UX teams. To truly understand users, practitioners must delve beneath the surface, recognizing that behaviors are context-dependent and not limited to specific generations or ethnic groups. Furthermore, personas that lack value are often disregarded in subsequent design stages, whereas effective personas inform user flows, relevant features, and interactions, enabling teams to address specific user needs and preferences and drive decision-making.
How User Personas Should Evolve – 5 Steps
|Action & Improvement|
|1) Inclusive behaviors over exclusionary demographics||To enhance the value of user personas, they should focus on relevance, fostering empathy, and understanding user context. Storytelling and detailed descriptions should take precedence over visual elements that can lead to stereotypes. An updated persona framework should prioritize inclusive behaviors, attitudes and user context, while avoiding irrelevant details. Demographic information can impede unbiased judgments, especially when target user groups encompass diverse categories. Instead of shaping personas based on appearance, grouping users by behaviors promotes inclusivity, equity, and guards against assumptions and stereotypes.|
|2) Contextual Behaviors|
Providing context is a way development teams can include storytelling in their personas. The persona should answer these four questions:
The answers to these questions should come from user research and can be paired with a customer journey map to help fully understand the need.
3) Multiple Photos
To avoid reinforcing stereotypes and excluding certain groups, design teams should utilize multiple photos instead of relying on a single image to represent a persona. By showcasing users in the context of using the product or engaging in relevant tasks, teams can combat unconscious biases and encourage a broader perspective that transcends age, gender, and ethnicity, particularly when personas exhibit behaviors that encompass diverse demographic groups.
4) General vs Specific
|To prevent misunderstandings and overgeneralizations, UX teams should prioritize specificity when addressing pain points. Rather than using vague terms like "time," it is crucial to delve into the specific nature of the user's pain. This includes exploring and expressing the symptoms of insufficient time, lack of time management tools, lack of focus, or excessive distractions. By providing clear and detailed descriptions of the user's challenges, teams can avoid leaving room for individual interpretations that may result in misconceptions.|
5) Test personas by “walking in their shoes”
Finally, test the effectiveness of the persona by attempting to walk in their shoes. Not everyone on the development team will have been involved in the user research, and the persona is a proxy for communicating these learnings. Teams should ask themselves these questions in order to determine the effectiveness of a persona.
The serious need for user personas to evolve in the field of UX design is highlighted by some common issues with personas, such as containing irrelevant details, lacking important contextual information and user behaviors, and prioritizing visual appeal over effective communication with an overemphasis on demographics that create stereotypes and generalizations. The key emphasis and importance of relevance, inclusivity, and earnestly understanding the user context in persona development is critical. The five-steps for process improvement, include focusing on inclusive behaviors, providing contextual behaviors, build storytelling descriptions, along with using multiple photos, prioritizing specific symptoms of pains-points, and then with your team, testing the personas' effectiveness under pointed conditions that builds empathy for users.
Generating AI Personas – Competitive Analysis
Reading Time 8 mins
Personas are an integral part of the HCD UX development process to understand the idiosyncrasies and emotional state of our consumers and users to help build empathy for their challenges and lifestyle while reinforcing the very reason UX exists as a discipline.
Making Personas of your consumers and users can be a taxing yet creative exercise that can require extensive knowledge, understanding and research. In recent months, there has been a growing trend towards using AI language models like ChatGPT to generate personas quickly and easily. While AI technology can offer many benefits in UX research, what is clear Personas are only as good as the people who help create them, even then, they have the potential to be flawed and biased.
Personas are not just a collection of demographic data and personality traits; they are meant to capture the unique behaviors, motivations, and pain points of real users. Without direct input from users, personas are just assumptions and stereotypes that do not reflect the reality of user needs and expectations.
To help start your persona-generating process this article provides a short and insightful competitive analysis of the pros and cons of four free AI Persona generating platforms. Using the HCD COE Enterprise Personas, the Healthcare Office Manager, as our ‘control persona’ we are looking for help on creating all the criteria of a persona including Personal details, Role and Responsibilities, Motivations, Challenges, Opportunities and Technology skills. The quick summation is that AI Personas results are not totally compelling or comprehensively informative that you fully understand the values of your users or stakeholders, however, some results are an extremely efficient turn-around to jump-start and share with your team, creating a basic framework in which to build and iterate further.
AI Persona Criteria
- Persona criteria – covers all the boxes as mentioned above to fully understand your customer/user type.
- Depth of narrative – written content is informative and meaningful to the customer/user type
- Visual appearance – helpful representation of the character of the customer/user type
- Overall Score – Accumulated scores are used as recommendations
Addresses criteria in a very inadequate way.
Addresses criteria in a non-specific or unsatisfactory way
Addresses criteria adequately.
Addresses criteria in a substantial way
Addresses criteria in an outstanding way
a) ChatGPT Playground
Is an alternate free platform within ChatGPT using the same user sign-in. There is no limit of word characters to the question you ask. A very self-directed initiative, relying heavily on the user's input. Note that all knowledge discontinues after 2021.
User Input: Can you create a healthcare office manager persona?
ChatGPT Playground response below:
Name: Sheila Tierney
Job Title: Healthcare Office Manager
Work Experience: Sheila has worked in the healthcare industry for 15 years, starting out as an administrative assistant and then managing an office for a local hospital for the past 5 years.
Personality: Sheila is a highly organized and efficient person. She is detail-oriented and meticulous in her work. She is a people-person who knows how to keep an office running smoothly and collaborates well with other staff members.
Likes/Dislikes: Sheila loves being able to help others and make everyone's jobs easier. She also likes discovering new ways to make her job easier as well. However, she does not like when others forget to follow procedures or do not follow through on their tasks.
Personal Life: Outside of work, Sheila loves to hike, camp, and explore nature. She also volunteers with her friends at various community charities.
Goals: Sheila's main goal is to become a more organized and efficient office manager. She hopes to create a positive work environment so that all her staff members can feel supported.
b) User Persona
This is a free, simple and no sign-on required persona-building platform. You have to enter a maximum 25-character description. Using our Healthcare Office Manager narrative: ‘verifies patient insurance coverage, obtains preauthorization’s and referrals, schedules patient appointments, coordinates the patient intake process and provides administrative support.’ A self-generated document can then be downloaded and used fairly quickly.
c) Board of Innovation
Is a free, no sign-up required AI, coined the AI Toolbox for Innovators. The site has multiple AI tools; How Might We Statements, Brainstorm Bubby to Interview script. This site packs a lot of punch for AI tools that cover a diverse need set. Typed in Healthcare Office Manager as our control to the AI box and was provided with two well-crafted options of personas that included technology in the makeup.
User Input: Target audience; Healthcare Office Manager
User Archetypes for Healthcare Office Managers
Archetype 1: Overwhelmed Ophelia
Demographic: Female, age 35-50, works at a small to medium-sized healthcare facility.
Goals: Ophelia's primary goal is to keep the healthcare facility running smoothly. She wants to provide excellent care to patients and ensure that staff have the resources they need to do their jobs effectively.
Challenges: Ophelia feels overwhelmed by the amount of administrative work she has to do. She struggles to keep up with paperwork, scheduling, and billing, which leads to stress and burnout. She also finds it difficult to navigate the complex regulations and requirements of the healthcare industry.
Values: Ophelia values teamwork, communication, and organization. She believes that a well-run healthcare facility is essential for providing quality care to patients.
Technology: Ophelia uses electronic health records (EHRs) and other healthcare software to manage patient information, scheduling, and billing. She is comfortable with technology but can become frustrated when systems don't work as expected.
Archetype 2: Strategic Simon
Demographic: Male, age 40-55, works at a large healthcare organization.
Goals: Simon's primary goal is to streamline operations and improve efficiency at the healthcare organization. He wants to reduce costs, increase revenue, and improve patient outcomes.
Challenges: Simon faces many challenges, including resistance to change from staff, budget constraints, and regulatory compliance issues. He also struggles to balance short-term goals with long-term strategic planning.
Values: Simon values data-driven decision-making, innovation, and collaboration. He believes that technology can play a key role in improving healthcare outcomes.
Technology: Simon is comfortable with a wide range of technology, from EHRs and patient portals to data analytics and artificial intelligence. He is always looking for new ways to use technology to improve healthcare operations.
Provides a multitude of tools for creative thinking, office management, and media tools for businesses alike. Hubspot’s AI Persona resource is a free, no sign-up required platform with multiple language options. As the user, you input most of the content through a series of seven multi-choice and open-text questions as listed below. This then generates a persona that you can download. The example below reflects the finished product. This platform allows for a limited variability of persona and relies heavily on your input.
User Input Questions:
Step 1/7: Create Your Avatar - Pick an image & create a name
Step 2/7: Their Demographic Traits - Two slide option answers
Step 3/7: Their Business - Dropdown option and slide option answers
Step 4/7: Their Career - Three questions for the open text box.
Step 5/7: The Characteristics of Their Job - Multiple choice and open text box.
Step 6/7: How They Work - 12 tick box options and open text box.
Step 7/7: Their Consumption Habits - Two open-choice questions.
Large health insurers and other companies are especially keen on doctors’ groups that care for patients in private Medicare plans.
Reading Time 4 mins
Healthcare Industry Acquisitions
The shortage of primary care doctors in the US is worsening, despite their critical role in healthcare. These doctors work in a field that is low-paid and often overlooked. They are burdened with heavy workloads, seeing up to 30 patients per day, addressing various medical issues such as diagnosing strep infections and managing chronic conditions like diabetes.
Multibillion-dollar corporations, particularly large health insurers like CVS Health and Amazon, are acquiring primary care practices. CVS Health spent around $11 billion to purchase Oak Street Health, a rapidly growing chain of primary care centers across 21 states. Amazon also made a bold move by acquiring One Medical, another major doctors' group, for nearly $4 billion. These corporations are attracted to primary care practices because, despite their lowly status, primary care doctors oversee a large patient base, which brings business and profits to expanding hospital systems, health insurers, and pharmacy companies.
The corporate consumption of medical care keeps growing. Walgreens Boots Alliance, one of the largest U.S. pharmacy operations, spent $5 billion for a majority stake in VillageMD, a primary care group, and teamed with Cigna to buy another medical group for nearly $9 billion. And short of an outright purchase, UnitedHealth is partnering with Walmart to offer care to older patients.
The privatization of Medicare and the financial opportunities it presents, with the federal government paying private insurers $400 billion annually, is a significant factor driving the acquisition of primary care practices by multibillion-dollar corporations. The consolidation of medical care is rapidly increasing, leaving patients in the hands of a diminishing number of large companies or hospital groups that control various aspects of healthcare. With nearly 70% of all doctors now employed by hospitals or corporations, many physicians feel a loss of autonomy and limited time to spend with patients. This trend raises concerns about the quality of patient care and the doctor-patient relationship.
The Challenges & Affects
The continued consolidation of medical care through the acquisition of doctor practices by corporations raises concerns about prioritizing profits over patient welfare and increasing healthcare costs. Companies argue that these arrangements promote value-based care, with flat fees incentivizing preventive measures and reducing unnecessary procedures. However, the personal doctor-patient relationship may be compromised as parent companies dictate service limitations. The acquisitions may also violate state laws against corporate medicine, and critics warn of potential harm to patients through complex systems and limited access to care. While proponents argue that these deals bring needed funds and improvements, skeptics caution against the shift towards profit-driven healthcare.
- Potential prioritization of profits over patient welfare
- Increased healthcare costs
- Erosion of the personal doctor-patient relationship
- Violation of state laws against corporate medicine
- Potential harm to patients due to complex systems and limited access to care
- Shift towards profit-driven healthcare models
What could CMS do?
CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) can take several steps to navigate the key concerns of corporate acquisitions of doctor practices:
- Enhanced oversight and regulation: CMS strengthens rules to prioritize patient welfare in corporate acquisitions.
- Antitrust scrutiny: CMS collaborates with FTC to prevent monopolistic practices and protect competition.
- Preserving doctor-patient relationship: CMS develops guidelines to safeguard quality care and patient autonomy.
- Promoting value-based care: CMS encourages payment models based on outcomes and patient satisfaction.
- Collaboration with state authorities: CMS works with states to uphold laws against corporate interference in patient care.
- Consumer education and transparency: CMS empowers patients with information about corporate-owned practices and their impact on care.
- Collaboration with stakeholders: CMS engages healthcare professionals, advocacy groups, and patients to gather input and inform policies.
CVS Health Acquisitions: https://www.cvshealth.com/news/company-news/cvs-health-reports-first-quarter-2023-results.html
Amazon Acquirers One Medical: https://press.aboutamazon.com/2022/7/amazon-and-one-medical-sign-an-agreement-for-amazon-to-acquire-one-medical
Walgreens Boots Alliance: https://news.walgreens.com/press-center/walgreens-boots-alliance-makes-52-billion-investment-in-villagemd-to-deliver-value-based-primary-care-to-communities-across-america.htm
Continuously Improve Your Website by Using Customer Feedback and Web Analytics: An IRS Case Study
Read Time: 2 min
All Americans experience challenges while filing tax returns and using the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Free File platform is no exception.
Join the CCSQ HCD Community of Practice on Thursday, June 29, for Continuously Improve Your Website by Using Customer Feedback and Web Analytics: An IRS Case Study. Kira Prin and Sam Chapman from the IRS will share how they collect user feedback and use web analytics to improve IRS Free File, one of the IRS’s most widely used applications.
During the session, we’ll explore how to:
- Design a user feedback survey,
- Continuously monitor, analyze, and utilize user feedback and web analytics to make better decisions,
- Make the case for changes to managers and others who may not have analytics expertise,
- Turn actionable data into insights and make enhancements to your website and digital services, and
- Ensure your team has the key skills in place to do this type of work.
Sam Chapman - User Experience Lead for IRS.gov and Public User Portal apps
Sam Chapman has been with the IRS since 2021 working with the User Experience and Design team in Online Services. He is the User Experience lead for IRS.gov and Public User Portal apps, with the primary focus on methods for User Experience research. Sam has had over 25 years of experience as a Human Factors and Usability expert, working for several companies like IBM, HP, Staples, and Circuit City, as well as several consulting positions with various Federal agencies. Sam is an avid Fly angler and kayaker. Sam has three grown children, and he lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia with his wife.
Kira Prin – IRS.gov Product Manager
Kira Prin has been working with the Online Services team at the IRS since 2017. She started as the Digital UX Lead for multiple application redesign projects, and now she’s the Product Manager for the IRS.gov website and the senior tech advisor for the IRS.gov Content Strategy Branch Chief. Her passion and focus are to inform design, content updates and strategic initiatives through user research and analytics. Before starting her federal government career, Kira was in the nonprofit world as a Webmaster and Marketing Specialist. She lives with her husband and 2 dogs in the Northern Virginia area.
The presentation slides and recording will be available following the session on Confluence.
When: Thursday, June 29, 1 PM ET
Where: Zoom; Meeting ID: 161 261 2949; Passcode: 631411