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Demo: Drafting Personas

Watch Alex Cowan to learn about drafting personas.
We’re going to put pen to paper now and draft a persona. I often get the question, should I do this at this point? What if I only have a cursory understanding of who this person is, and I haven’t gone out and done my interviews and talking to them? I think it’s a really good idea to do it early. And certainly my understanding of the HVAC technician is cursory. I think it’ll help you in a few different ways. One, it’ll help highlight the things that you don’t know yet. So that when you go out and you do that discovery, you have nice clear view of what you want to know and how you’re going to encapsulate it after you learn it.
Two, it’ll help motivate you. You’ll get a feeling of, hey, I really need to go out and learn about this persona. Not just go through this exercise of talking to them because I think I’ve heard that’s part of the process. And three, it’ll help get your team on the same page and start building this infrastructure, this very iterative process of creating personas and improving them, sooner versus later. So, I’m in the Google Doc that you saw earlier. I am on H3 for the individual persona. You can see the Heading 3 menu here. That’ll help keep your table of contents working if you’re using the Google Doc or the Microsoft Word Doc.
So that things are easy to get at for everyone. I’m going to call him Trent the Technician. Now you may wonder, well, how do I know how many personas I should start with? And there I would say, don’t overdrive your visibility. If you are making an app for moms, and you know that you need to learn about all the different types of moms. And which one would buy your product early and use it, which one later. And you don’t know enough to create those different sub-personas, if you will, of the mom segment. Just start with one, that’s fine. And then as you learn more, you can resegment it and detail it as you go along.
So I’m going to start with one. Now the next thing we have here is a screener question. This is really important. This is how you’re going to go out and when you do find subjects, the simple, factual question that you ask them to make sure that they’re a valid subject. We’re going to naturally move toward subjects that are easier to get at. And we want to have a nice clear view of, am I wasting my time with this subject because they’re not relevant to what we’re trying to do. Or are they a good fit and is it worth our time, both yourself and the subject, to talk to them.
So a good screening tech question, if we want to talk to an HVAC technician is, how many HVAC repairs have you done in the last month? And we probably want to hear greater than five or something like that. And we’ll learn and we can tune that as we go along. Now, we get into the actual persona description. So I’m just going to move this text down and this place holder stuff, you can go ahead and remove later. All right, now the first thing that I like to do personally when I draft a persona, is find a photo. Now, I have this made up LinkedIn profile that I’m going to use for the purpose.
And I’m going to go ahead and copy the image and put it in my Google Doc. Now, the rules about when and how, and I’m going to use the wrap text option here so that the text will wrap around it. And the rules on what’s okay and what’s not okay with regard to these images is going to vary, depending on where specifically you are. And if you have any doubts, you should consult with your counsel. But one thing that will always get you in trouble is if you ever use an image that you don’t have permission for in any kind of public documentation. So that’s something I would definitely avoid in any situation.
And for instance, in this particular case, this is a subject where I have explicit permission to use this picture. So now that I have this kind of image to help humanize him and by the way you saw us use this Trent the Technician technique. All these little things help us keep our eye on the ball, keep our eye on the humanity of our subject as a real, living breathing person with their own desires. Their own unpredictable reactions to our software, their own assessment of if what we’re are doing is valuable or not. Getting started here and writing is one of the hardest parts and I would encourage you to just start putting stuff down. If it’s a guess, that’s okay.
You can always edit it later and that’s fine. If you’re not sure, just don’t worry about it, you can change it later. And if you’re wondering where to start, I often like to start with why do they do this whatever it is that they’re doing? In this case, working as an HVAC technician. And kind of what’s the story of that? So let’s start there. Trent’s been an HVAC Technician for seven years, four of them at HVAC in a hurry. When he started, The money wasn’t great.
But in his current role, it’s pretty good and he likes the job.
How did he first start doing this? After a couple years off after high school,
Trent enrolled in a two year program,
On the advice of a friend who had done the same. And that’s how he started, we’ll suppose here. Now again, we’re going to go out and find out if that’s really true, and that’s fine. But this is a good way for us to spend 5, 10, 15 minutes and just kind of push ourselves to see what we know and we want to know. This is a little abbreviated, but again, don’t push yourself to write more than you want. But do push yourself to kind of cover each of these questions at least a little bit. The second thing that I like to look at is well, what’s a typical day in the life for Trent?
At least as it pertains to his area that we’re interested in which is, in this case, is work. And we think, I think based on my cursory experience with this persona, that Trent would love to sleep in more.
But he has to get into the office early so he can get his dispatch assignments,
Prepare, get equipment and stuff, and head out to his jobs before traffic picks up.
On the job, he’s diagnosing issues and then when he needs support or has a question about getting a replacement part,
He’s on the phone to the office.
He usually knocks off at five to head back to the office and is home shortly after that, which he likes. He has a lot of friends, Who work in an office and it seems like they’re always on call responding to emails and such.
He likes to hit the gym after work. He used to go have a drink and light dinner with his gym buddies, but now that he has a serious girlfriend,
He usually heads home.
Next, I often like to look at kind of what are the tension points, the kind of issues that we’ve started to learn about. And we’ll structure those in a more formal way when we move down to the problem scenarios. But I try to get at them a little bit circumstantially kind of here. So I’ve kind of heard anecdotally, often he heads to a job and finds that the customer is frustrated because they’ve already explained what they want and what’s happening to dispatch but he doesn’t get those notes.
There’s a lot of idle time if he needs a replacement part, That’s not on hand.
Often, he’s unsure and has to wait to see whether he can just go get the part and finish up that day. Or whether it’s going to be a few days and he should just schedule a follow-on appointment with the customer.
So there could be more here but I’m just sort of putting out a few things that I know. And then finally, I like to close with, where is this persona headed? I mean what do they see in this area for themselves in the next whatever the time horizon tends to be that we find when we talk to them, a year or five years.
Trent likes the job and the security of working for a larger firm. He and his girlfriend are thinking of tying the knot and starting a family and she likes the situation he’s in. He’s heard of some of his former colleagues, Working for themselves,
Or working in a smaller shop. The money and hours sound like they might be better, but he’s also heard they end up with a lot of extra time,
Administering the business, And selling themselves.
So, this is a good start. We sat down, we sketched out a few things. I can see a whole bunch of things that I want to put into the discovery guide. And that some of these things I might have even kind of surfaced for myself subconsciously. So I put this idea in my mind of the persona. And yet, I want to use it as a tool to push myself to want to learn more and to keep an open mind and see if I’m right or not about the things that I’ve supposed as I go out and talk to real subjects.
Next, we’re going to look at the think, see, feel, do aspects of the persona so we can get a little more specific about how Trent operates in our area of interest.

In this video, Alex demos drafting a persona. You’ll complete a simplified version of this for your peer-reviewed assignment in Week 3.

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