Communicating user needs: determining function and form. Building a UX Playbook. [3 of 4]

Laura Cochran
4 min readMay 12, 2022

From the beginning, our team decided to keep the function and form of the Customer Playbook intentionally ambiguous. There were some constraints in place so scope didn’t not become wildly bloated, but we wanted the team to have permission to determine specifics about the experience as they understand the needs of the business and users of the playbook more deeply.

We knew the playbook should be usable by everyone internally and that most people would be comfortable using a website to learn about the archetypes. So, a website was obvious.

However, I strongly believed the playbook needed a physical component as well. The experience of using the playbook, whether it be in a workshop taught by someone or on your own, seemed to warrant a physical artifact to take notes or keep nearby for quick reference.

What form should the plays take?

The plays, specifically, were an area we wanted to explore for the physical artifact since we knew the plays would be used in workshop settings as people worked together to use the archetypes to make decisions.

As a reminder, the vision for the plays was to provide guidance on how to take the archetypes and put them to use in their own context. We knew this was a big challenge we faced after we created the archetypes — getting people to use them.

As is true with most things, the concept of a playbook and plays was not new to the world. We looked to existing examples of playbooks for inspiration.

Landscape Audit & Inspiration

18F Cards | Learn about 18F Methods | Download the Cards [PDF Download]

Cooper UX Boot Camp | Photos

IBM Toolkit

It turns out there are many examples of putting this type of concept into action. We took inspiration from all of them as we started to think about the full experience design.

Stakeholder Interviews

To make sure we were designing to capture business requirements, we conducted stakeholder interviews across product and marketing. This surfaced core jobs to be done for stakeholders:

  • Understanding Customer Mindsets
  • Having a Guide When Starting Work
  • Continually Share Knowledge
  • Become More Proactive
  • Need a Source of Truth
  • Matching Products to Customers

Experience Pillars

Based on our insights generated from stakeholder interviews, our landscape audit and themes from our co-creation workshops, we knew the playbook should enable the following:

  1. A quick and easy reference to understand customers
  2. Establish a shared knowledge
  3. A source for current projects and proactive initiatives

Content Strategy

The content strategy and information architecture was the next step. We landed on a hub and spoke model with hub pages for:

  1. The research [archetypes]
  2. How To’s
  3. Plays
  4. Case Studies

To get new users engaged, Matthew Chmiel came up with this homepage module that guides people directly into relevant content.

Visualizing the Archetypes

As the content strategy was coming together so were the illustrations for the archetypes. This was one of my favorite parts of the design phase. We wanted to make sure the archetypes were inclusive, yet representative of the models we were expressing.

Typically, you’ll see a generic stock photo used for archetypes or personas. Our team knew we needed to humanize these data models so empathy transfers & the archetypes would be memorable. However, we also did not want people to get caught up in the demographics. Behaviors, needs and attitudes drive archetypes.

These illustrations perfectly captured our data models. Thank you Justin!

Illustrations by Justin Winslow for Code & Theory

Page Design

After the content and architecture models were complete, we were able to dive into site design. This seems like the easy part by this point, right?! Thank you to Yoje Ho and Brandon Mosley for their leadership pushing this forward.

Hub Page

Each category of content was surfaced organically throughout the experience but also through the top navigation.

Play Page

The play pages surface the different “plays” we use throughout the human-centered design process.

How To Page

The how to page is another level of guidance for people new to the human-centered design toolkit.

If you just discovered this post, congrats! Want to learn more:

Understanding who you are designing for: the research design. Building a UX Playbook. [2 of 4]

Understanding who you are designing for and helping people design for them. Building a UX Playbook. [1 of 4]

Next Up: Picking a CMS and Developing the Playbook [will link when ready]