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Focusing Your Persona: Think, See, Feel, Do

Watch Alex Cowan to learn how to focus your persona using think, see, feel, do.
We talked about how personas are a way we humanize our user. And also how we kind of operationalize them in our particular area with this framework of Think, See, Feel, Do. Now we’re going to walk through that in a little more detail using an example. And we’re going to use an example from HVAC in a Hurry, we’ll call them H and H for short. When we look at the think part of a persona, what we’re really looking at is the cognitive part of what they would rationally say to you about your problem area that you’re working on. And the best place to initially focus is on the tension between, how do they see things now in your area of interest?
Be that getting people out to jobs through HVACS, or screening candidates. How do they see things now, how do they think they are versus how would they like them to be? So what is the tension between those two things? And, this is certainly not the only way to write this up, and it’s not a one sentence thing necessarily. But if you’re stuck, a good template to start with is okay, such and such a persona thinks that things should be different in a certain way. And that this is important because, why? because we always want to focus on what’s actually valuable. And if we, we’ll get into this as we begin looking at how to create interview guides.
But if we lead the subject, if we tell them, wouldn’t you agree that x, well, they’re always going to tell us, yes. So we always need to look at questions that draw them out into a real discussion about what they really think. We’re going to use Ted, the HVAC technician from HVAC in a Hurry as our example here as we go through this. And here’s some example of what this might look like as a start for Ted. He thinks that the dispatch process should be more systematic, and that he could avoid jobs that are too far away from where he is, or not consistent with his skill set.
And this is really important to him because he’s paid hourly for how long he’s on a job and when his time’s wasted he’s not getting paid. So, there you see some tension between how Ted sees things now and how he’d like them to be. As we transition over to the Sees part, here we’re looking at how was their Think kind of shaped? What are the interactions, and media, and things that they look at that shape their perceptions? And this is important because this is how we will reach our user, this is how they will learn about our product, be that buying it, using it, continuing to use it, sharing it with others.
And also, we just want to generally know, what does the persona see happening in our area of interest that they think is notable? Because that tells us a lot about where things are headed and their perception going into their use of our product. And, so and a good template for this is, in certain situations the persona sees that, some key observation. And you want to make sure that these tie into things that are important in Thinks and the rest of the persona. So here’s an example that Ted sees a lot of talent going into business for themselves or going to work at large clients that HVAC in a Hurry services.
And that they often end up with better hours and better pay. So for an internal project, this is actually a pretty important thing to learn. For an external project, this might be something like at Enable Quiz, Helen sees her colleagues trying out new enterprise software and achieving wins. Or Helen sees other companies hiring more talent and she wishes she could just do that.
And then we get to Feels, this one is a little more challenging. So here we have to get at the emotional resonance of what the subject actually feels in our area of interest. And that the easiest way to do that is against the backdrop of a specific example that you’ve probably been talking about as you move through these other items. Tell me about the last time you went out and fixed an HVAC yesterday. Tell me about the last candidate you hired. And then you ask them to take you through the example. And then you ask them, how did that make you feel?
And we know from talking to Ted that when he’s sitting in traffic and he feels like he could have gone to that job in the morning instead of the afternoon and avoided traffic. And now he’s not getting paid and he’s bored and angry and frustrated and he’s sitting in traffic. Well, that is a key emotional moment for him in our area of interest. Helen at Enable Quiz may be a good example. A key emotional moment here is that she feels horrible when they have to part ways with a candidate that doesn’t work out. The candidate feels horrible, so does Helen, and then you can see kind of a template here for starting to put this together.
When a certain thing happens, they feel this way, and it’s really this aspect of the interaction that made them feel that way. And this helps us get at, what are the things ultimately, everything we do is for emotional reasons. And we will justify it with rational backdrops but it’s really these things that propel us to action, and that’s why it’s important to understand. When we look at Does, here we’re actually looking at, oftentimes, numeric specifics. And we’re looking at, how often does the persona do this certain activity per whatever the period is, day, week, month, quarter? Different activities will have different relevant cadences. We also want to look at how much they spend in our area, if that’s relevant.
It’s not relevant for Ted, for instance, but it might be relevant for Helen the HR manager at Enable Quiz. How much, does she have a budget? Does she spend money on enterprise software products or SaaS services right now? Here we see some notes on things that Ted actually does. So this one gives us a view of, how much is Ted actually working? And then, that’s not the only thing that we look at in the Does part here. We’re also looking at notable things, especially workarounds and things where the persona is clearly, Looking for something better.
So the fact that Ted constantly uses his personal iPhone to look up equipment manuals, rather than the tools that the company provides him now, well, that’s interesting. Does that mean we need to replace that? Not necessarily, but we want to look for the workarounds. The things that our persona does in our area of interest to get by that may be important for us to think through their actual behaviors. And the reality of how they’re likely to interact with our product. Because remember, we feel like we have a lot of control inside the building about what’s going to happen with our software.
But the reality is, we do not, we really don’t know how the user is going to interact with our software. So we need to do our very best to premeditate what’s going to be valuable to them. But then test that and observe that in small batches against the backdrop of this persona.

During this video, Alex applies the Think, See, Feel, Do framework to an example from HVAC and Enable Quiz to focus the personas.

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