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Capturing Customer Context

Cheryl Platz

02 Feb, 4:00 pm

2 h

Build a stronger foundation for your work with an improv-inspired ethnographic storytelling framework.


Now that the world's turned upside down, the need for a rich and renewed understanding of our customers is greater than ever. And as our devices become more complicated - voice, touch, haptics, gesture - this need will remain with us. Personas don't capture the whole picture; they focus on the surface and not on the surroundings. Where is your customer? Who is with them? How do they feel? In this workshop, you'll learn to employ the same framework professional actors do to explore the full complexity of your customers and their context, while laying out a strategy for partner engagement.

Improv actors cope with this infinite canvas every time we walk onstage, and at my theater we use a particular storytelling shorthand called CROW to remind us of the elements needed to tell a full story. In this workshop, you'll learn how to apply that same framework to ensure you're getting a complete picture of your customer's context.

We'll also explore the all-important kickoff to the process: if you can't get partner buy-in for your research, what good is the technique? You'll learn strategies for bringing the team together to explore what you know to jump-start this process, allowing you to focus on answering the open questions of greatest value.

Who is it for?

Intermediate Experts Specific for designers Specific for Researchers


Meet the speaker

Cheryl Platz


Principal and Owner, Ideaplatz, LLC

Cheryl Platz is an internationally-renowned interaction designer best known for her work on a wide variety of emerging technologies and products – including Amazon’s Alexa voice platform and the Echo Look, Microsoft’s Cortana and the Azure platform, and groundbreaking early titles for the Nintendo DS. Her professional passions include natural user interfaces, design for constraint and complexity, systems design, and storytelling for product design.

Cheryl’s past employers include Microsoft, Amazon, Electronic Arts, Griptonite Games, MAYA Design and Disney Parks. Cheryl is currently a Principal UX Designer at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, focused on improving digital collaboration. In her spare time, as owner of design education firm Ideaplatz, LLC, she travels the world sharing her experience designing for new technology (and applying improvisation to design) with other technologists.

Cheryl holds a degree in computer science and human-computer interaction from Carnegie Mellon University. In addition to her design work, Cheryl has been a professional improvisor and performer for well over a decade.

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