Create Website Personas

Sep 5, 2011 | Marketing, Public relations, Website

website personas characterization marketingWhen you are thinking about a website redesign – or even if you are simply tweaking your current site – personas are a very useful tool.

What is a persona?

A persona is a character who represents a group of people who use your site, who have a common purpose for being there and the same goal for the visit.

Personas (or “personae,” if you want to be grammatically correct) are fictitious people, but they stand in for real visitors to the site. For example, you might have a persona for a customer who comes to your site looking for technical support. Or a persona for each major category of prospect.

You can develop personas in a fair bit of detail. You might say that Bob is a director of a Fortune 500 company. He is a decision-maker and will be signing off on the purchase of your company’s software. His major concerns are whether your company is large enough and stable enough to sign a multi-year contract, and how quickly his department will get a return on their investment. Bob is 48 years old, he is married with two children, both of whom play soccer and he surfs the web on his smartphone while at their soccer practice or after they go to bed at night.

You can see how it is now much easier to envision what Bob cares about and how he will be using your site, and you can have discussions with your team about how you can make Bob’s visit to your site a more pleasing and successful experience.

If you decide to use personas for your website, the first place to start is identifying the groups of people who typically visit your site. Here are some questions to ask:
I. What types of people visit the website?
A. Prospects
B. Customers
C. Employees
D. Partners
E. Prospective partners
F. Press
G. Who else?

II. For each type of person who visits the site:
A. Why are they there? What do they need to accomplish?
B. What problem do they have?
C. What information are they looking for?

III. For each type of person, what characterizes them?
A. Demographics: age, gender, etc.
B. Title, occupation
C. Web behavior

  • 1. Are they sophisticated web users?
  • 2. How much time do they spend online?
  • 3. How are they likely to use the web/website to solve their problem?
  • 4. How are they likely to find the website?
  • 5. What emotional state are they likely to be in when they visit the site?

D. Geography
E. Language/accessibility needs

Put that information together into profiles, then have some fun naming them. If you really want to get into it, find a photo of each person and add that to their description. Then share those profiles with the people who are planning the site. I guarantee you will have some fascinating discussions – and you’ll do a better job of designing your new site.

Who else should read this? Please share!

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