Personas: What They Are & Why You Need Them
We talk a lot about making sure your content is usable for your web visitors. But how do you know what those visitors are looking for? Why are they coming to your site? Who are they? That’s where Personas come in. They can help you identify who visitors are and why they’re visiting your website. You can then use this information to ensure your site is meeting their needs.
What Are Personas?
Great websites get built by people who care about the people who use them. According to Ginny Reddish, author of Letting Go of the Words, a persona is, “an individual with a name, a picture, specific demographics, and other characteristics.” Personas are fictional characters created by you. They represent the needs of a cluster of your website visitors. They help you test new ideas by stepping outside of yourself. Use them to see your website from another perspective.
We’ve already talked about the various types of analytics you can gather to test your website. Now, use those analytics to build your personas.
Typical personas are one-page documents that contain any or all the following information:
- Family status
- Education level
Look at the sample persona of Joan (PDF). She is an example of what an older website visitor might be like. Her main goal is to pay her bill so she can get back to enjoying her retirement. But don’t make it too difficult for her, otherwise, she might have to call her son for help. Changing your navigation? Visitors like Joan might need extra help to find the content they’re used to if it has moved.
When we take a look at Amir’s persona (PDF), we can see he’s a very busy person. He’s got all his bills set up on auto-pay so he doesn’t have to spend extra time thinking about or paying them. He’s expecting a child with his wife soon so he’s working to get his degree finished before the baby arrives. He’s also devoting his days to managing his parent’s restaurant in the middle of a global pandemic. You can imagine his elevated stress level. He is pretty savvy with the internet, so any changes you make to the site might not affect him too much, but beware! His life is about to change with the new baby. You’ll want to ensure your auto-pay is easy to use, online payments are simple, and that your rebates are easy to find. He’s been struggling to make ends meet and will definitely want to take advantage of your rebate program.
Why You Need Personas
Personas offer a way to test content decisions by adding faces and names to the conversation. They help you recognize that different people have different needs and expectations. Any time you make changes to your site you should be thinking about your visitors.
Personas help create understanding and empathy with your website visitors. They help you relate to them on a personal level. Changes to your site affect every engagement they have. Make sure your changes are worth it.
Let our team share the magic behind the curtain. Our trusted web experts have countless years of experience creating and using personas. We can assist in creating accurate personas that represent your visitors. We can then help you use those personas to guide site enhancements.
Personas can create buy-in within your web team. It’s easy to look inward and fulfill your own wants and needs with the website. Yet, when you create personas based upon analytics, the findings are hard to deny. Their unbiased value bring the team together to make informed decisions. You may even find yourself talking about them as if they’re real people! And essentially, a well-constructed persona almost becomes another member of your team.
Knowing who is coming to your site and why is key. Humans are naturally biased and can only see the world through their own eyes. But by creating personas, you can work towards seeing your site through a different lens. You can create a humanized online experience that is refreshingly different and keeps your visitors coming back.