Davidcard[Posted by David Card]

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I started thinking again about "personas" vs. "modes" during a discussion this morning with David Schatsky about James McQuivey’s keynote speech. I work for a company that has a big investment in customer segmentation schemes, and I’m a true believer, especially in those that account for attitudes as well as behavior. However, I freely acknowledge that a persona or segment can only go so far, and that human beings are flexible things. For instance, while I might behave most of the time like an aging urban yuppie, at least twice a year — near Christmas and Mothers’ Day — I shop like a suburban mom.

So what does this mean when you’re designing sites, products & services, and marketing campaigns? It probably means you have to develop a persona taxonomy flexible enough to accommodate modes, or blend with a task-oriented approach. Your brand may cater towards certain types, segments, or personae, but it has to be able to handle them when they’re switching modes.

I haven’t really formulated a system or framework for thinking about this balancing act yet. So let’s start the conversation.