The creation of user personas is a powerful technique for helping to increase the usability of your website or web app. Personas span from knowing your client base by conducting user research and who you’re targeting your website or services for.
Forming a persona should then allow you to tailor the experience based on their personality, needs and ability.
Therefore, this is the most important part to creating your personas. Who are your customers and what do they want?
What is a persona?
A persona put simply is “a summary of the characteristics, needs, motivations and environment of a typical type of visitor to your site”.
In order for any persona to be effective and really help the design of your website you need to talk to your customers or target audience. Gaining an understanding of who they are is Key.
What goes into making a persona?
When creating a persona there are a number of elements at work, however, most of these can be obtained by talking directly with your target audience.
There are a number of questions which you can answer, however, the main points to consider are:
- What is the average age group of your audience?
- Is your audience typically male, female or a mix of both?
- What kind of education does your audience have?
- What are their needs, why do they need or want your product or service?
- How are they influenced to make a purchase?
- What kind of background, skills and habits do they have?
All of these questions build upon your understanding of your customer base and allow you to draw some conclusions about them.
Using this new found information you can create some example client/customer profiles. These profiles can then be used when evaluating the effectiveness of your website or application.
Does your website/application fit the needs, capabilities of each of these personas?
If yes, then great, but that’s unlikely as there is always room for improvement, and it may be time to consider some more user testing.
If no, that’s fine, the next question is where does it not fit and why? This could be as simple as the terminology used in the text or it could be something more fundamental like the application flow.
Once you know where some of the problems lie, you can make the necessary steps to correct this. It’s important to review any changes against these personas again to ensure a fit.
Common reasons why personas can fail
There are a number of reason why your personas can be ineffective, but in most cases these fall under two categories:
- Insufficient audience research to support your personas – This basically means that you haven’t conducted any or enough research of your audience. There are many ways that you can collect helpful, realistic data such as interviews, surveys and usability testing. The biggest factor here is cost.
- Your audiences are not specific enough – Identifying a wide range of people such as the “general public” or “adults aged 18–25” is not a helpful or descriptive audience group. Targeting a group means you’re not targeting anyone. You need to narrow the audience down.
The best way to solve these problems is simply an investment. Learning more about the customers, their needs and expectations is helpful in many ways and just makes commercial sense.
Start small and ask a couple of your customers for feedback. As soon as you do, you’ll start to see the benefit. You can then scale up to improve your results and gain a better understand your customers and as you do, you’ll improve your customer relations.
User personas provide you with a clear understanding of your customers, who they are, what they need and why they are here. Knowing this allows you to customise and modify their experience using your website.
However, the process of creating personas is beneficial in a multitude of areas and can lead to improvement outside of just your online presence. Leading to improve customer relegations, better messaging and the all important customer conversion.
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