Creating Customer Personae

with Julie Hamwood

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Looking for patterns

Julie Hamwood

Strategist, Project Manager, User Experience Expert

Lessons Learned

Start with your customer needs - every time.

Make sure everyone on your team shares their idea of who the customer is and what they want.

Look for commonality and patterns among your customer profiles.


Lesson: Creating Customer Personas with Julie Hamwood

Step #5 Synthesis: Looking for patterns

Now once we've spent the time going through all these questions and we've written this out on a big sheet of paper, the next thing that we each need to do is present to the rest of our team. Introduce them to the person that we have, just spend a few minutes on this. And we really just want to focus on this is the person, a little bit about who he is, his need, and how he needs it, because at the end of the day, we're trying to meet a need. Everything else around triggers and experiences and so forth is important, but the main thing at this point, just to share with the team in overview is, what is the need?

That's basically just so that every team member has a sense of what everybody else was doing through this exercise, because now that we've all got a sense of what we've each done and what the other team members have done, we're now going to synthesize this.

This is where the great big wall of space comes in handy. If you've got a whiteboard, create the seven different spaces. If you don't have that, put up seven different big easel sheets of paper and write up those seven different areas. Need, Demographics, Context, Triggers, Functional Approaches, Concerns and Experiences. And then basically synthesize. For each person that was identified, they get one color of post-it notes. Then that person or team writes out the detail for each one of those seven sections, sticking to their color so that we know that this color represents this particular person, and they put it up on the board in the relevant categories. After we spend 15 minutes or so transcribing that, we will now have on the wall these sheets of paper with lots of post-it notes, lots of color, with lots of different perspectives and details about what the need is, and the triggers, and the experiences.

And then at that point, you want to start to look for patterns. You want to look at where there is commonality and where there is difference. You want to look at, as you start to sift it through, what resonates and do people think, "Yes, that makes sense as we're cohering this, as we're getting that Polaroid to be a little bit clearer. We're not getting a super clear picture, but we're getting a little bit clearer. It does resonate." Or sometimes they'll think, "You know what? It seems like we've all gone this way, we've all assumed this thing or think this thing, but actually the more that we make this picture together, we think that's not quite true."

What you're really trying to do is synthesize for each one of those seven sections, synthesize this into what will be the customer profile for this type of customer who has a particular need, and in your ideal would use your product in a particular way and would hear about your product in a particular way. This profile now represents who we think our customer is and why we think they're our customer, how we would talk with them, what service we'd be providing to them, and what they'd be prepared to give up themselves to us for that service.

We start to hear a bit of an essence around, "Oh, we really think that our customers have this characteristic to them." For example, "I like to socialize in large groups." We really think that that's a compelling characteristic. We then start to identify, what are the things that, when we actually go out to validate these profiles, we're really starting to pull out? These are the areas that we've really got more questions about, that we really need to go and test around.

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