Design and prototype production-ready conversational experiences with user personas

Production-ready conversational designs should be as reflective of the live experience as possible when you’re performing high-fidelity prototyping for internal and external user testing.

The results from those tests gives conversation design teams better insight not only into how users will interact with the experience in the wild, but how much development work will be necessary in order to get the design into production faster.

When conversation designers are using tools that force them to include steps that apply business logic in your conversation design, it adds unnecessary steps to the canvas, takes away from the high fidelity prototype experience for users, and can create confusion for development.

The canvas on which you design conversations should be an artifact and running users through your prototypes should feel like a seamless experience, where they are funneled into the appropriate part of your conversation design without being aware of it.

That’s why today we are excited to introduce User Personas in Voiceflow: The best way to design conversations for every user.

Organize Your Conversation Design Canvas

Before User Personas, conversation designers using Voiceflow had to apply additional paths on their designs to account for business logic that would be applied in production but couldn’t be replicated on the canvas.

Designers could accidentally create experiences where users entered an endless loop of repeating paths and blocks because conversation designers couldn’t see each individual experience for the different types of users who would be interacting with the live assistant.

This resulted in a messy canvas with steps that weren’t reflective of the live, production environment of the conversational experience.

The Old View:

In the example above, users would have to click a button in the beginning of the prototyping experience to test out a specific path. This step wouldn’t be necessary in a live environment but was necessary to ensure users testing the experience could understand each individual path that a customer could go down.

The New View

With User Personas, you’ll be able to test your designs and send custom prototype links that have a specific variable set on different user personas.

That way, when you're sending links out for user testing, you've already determined the experience the user will get, creating a seamless and high-fidelity testing experience that mimics your live environment.

In the example used below, you can set up user persona states for users who would would be run through a specific scenario based on user account information, eliminating the need for a user to indicate which path they want to go down through buttons in the beginning of the conversation.

Not only will your canvas be cleaner, there will be clearer delineations for where persona-specific experiences begin. With User Personas, you can choose at which Block on the canvas, in any Topic the persona should be set. No more accidental endless loops because you forgot to design for a specific use case, user personas help design teams create clarity on who is accounted for in each experience.

All Project Variables View

When you’re debugging your projects, you’ll notice that the All Project Variables settings have moved to account for user personas.

The variables used to be shown in the lefthand sidebar in testing mode.

The variables have no been moved to be listed under the dropdown to manage and create your user personas. You’ll also notice that the testing settings are now next to the Share Prototype button versus the lefthand sidebar.

For a more in depth view on how to access and create User Personas, check out this help doc.

When Should You Leverage User Personas

Conversations that have a semblance of variable data in their designs - different experiences for new and returning users, for users who indicate they have or have not accomplished a task, for users who fit certain account criteria - should have conditional paths that are based on these variable states specific to different kinds of user personas in Voiceflow.

This is exactly what we need. Most of our conversational experiences require account disambiguation, so easily showcasing the separate paths each type of user can go down will save us at least 10-15 minutes of design work for each persona.

Gina Riley, VP, Conversation & UX Design Lead @ JP Morgan, Chase

In order to get the most out of User Personas, your conversation design should include these conditional paths, indicating that there are different scenarios and paths for users who fit different criteria.

When you’re collaborating with other stakeholders to get your conversational experience from design to launch, highlighting individual paths for different user personas make it easier to pressure test your assistant for any and all scenarios it could encounter when it’s live.

If you’re interested in using User Personas, create your free Voiceflow account here and start designing more human conversations. If you're a Voiceflow user who wants more information on User Personas, check out our help documentation here and our tutorial on using User Personas here.