Developing Personas For Better Conversions

When you developed your website did you create personas for the typical visitors that will be coming to your site? Personas can help you define in greater detail who your visitors are and how best to develop the site for them. They can help in decisions about how you’ll structure your site, give you ideas for new pages and sections, and help you discover the best language to use when writing your content. Personas will help make your site more usable and generally increase your conversion.

No one website can be all things to all people. It’s equally unlikely that all your visitors will be be exactly the same. Chances are a variety of different people with different personality types will visit your site each with their own unique ideas about what they are looking for and what they find usable in a website. While unique, many of these people will share similarities with one another. So how do you know what are the characteristics they share? By creating personas.

What Is A Persona

A persona is simply a fictional character you create to represent a group of visitors to your site. The persona becomes one character who you develop with some detail to help you understand a larger group of people who will come to your site. By creating several personas based on your target market you will get to know your potential customers better and have a better idea how to build a site they will find usable and be better able to convert them from visitors to customers

Developing A Persona

You start to develop a persona by given your persona a name. This name helps to make the persona seem more like a real person, with real values and issues. Once you have a name start writing a bio about your persona. How old is he or she? What do they do for a living? Married? Single? What interests do they have? Why might they be at your site? Continue to flesh out you persona until you have a good background story of who this person is.

Remember to include things like whether or not they are web savy and how they interact with websites and search engines. Since the ultimate goal here is to develop a better site for this person the more you can know about your persona’s web habits the better it will be. Write as much as you can until you feel you really understand your persona. The write another persona. Write several for each of the different types of people likely to visit your site.

Making Use Of Personas

Now that you’ve developed your personas you want to put them to use. You can provide search on your site for your persona who has a hard time with navigation. You can place links to deep pages on your home page for that persona who’s in a hurry. Or even better optimize those deep pages for the way your persona searches. Now that you know your personas in more detail it should be easier to know what they would most want on your site and how you can make your site more usable to that persona.

Provide non technical jargon for your persona who isn’t tech savvy, but create a more tech laden path to your products for your more tech savvy personas. Not all of your visitors are looking for the same thing or will take the same path to a given product page. For a good example take a look at the SEO Research Labs home page. Look at the how the page is clearly divided into four distinct boxes. Each of these boxes is for a different persona who will be looking for different things or simply needing to get to the same place in a different way.

The main idea behind developing personas is to make your visitors more real to you. The more you can get to know them the more you will be able to talk directly to them. It’s true that you might not get a visitor exactly like any of your personas, but each of your personas will be similar enough to a large group of people that by developing a site that connects with one of your personas you will be developing a site that will connect with many of your visitors. The more you can connect with them the better you’ll be able to lead them down the conversion path where they’ll become paying customers.

Resources

Whispered Advice to The Graduate: Personas
Making Personas More Powerful: Details to Drive Strategic and Tactical Design

Download a free sample from my book, Design Fundamentals.

2 comments

  1. Your description of how to create a Persona is COMPLETELY WRONG!
    You are just making those personas up. A real Persona is built from ethnographic research, not from thin air. If you *only* use your imagination to build a persona, you’re just faking the whole process and you will still have no idea of who you are designing for.

  2. JK, please bear in mind this post wasn’t meant to be a how to on creating personas. It was meant simply to be an introduction to someone who had not heard of them before. Hence the links at the bottom of the post.

    I wasn’t implying you should be completely making up your personas. I agree that you should base them on as much real data as you can find and if I implied otherwise I apologize. I probably could have done a better job at making that clear.

    However not every small business, particularly a brand new one, has access to all the data they would ideally use in creating personas. They may need to do a little guesswork where the data comes in. I think creating personas based in part on some assumptions you make to fill in the gaps where your research is lacking can still be useful.

    As a new business starts to bring clients and customers it can better research it’s customer base and re-evaluate any personas created.

    I’d also argue that in some cases imagination is fine. Take a service oriented business in search of a niche. There might be a very diverse group of people who would be interested in your services, so diverse that it can include a majority of the population. I think in this case you can create personas based in many ways on imagining who might be a typical persona in a certain niche and then tailoring both your design and the services to that persona and niche.

    The imagined persona will not be perfect, but where data is lacking I think it can still help you focus on who your customers might be. It’s certainly better than throwing something together without thinking at all who might buy your services. And yes once you do have more data about the people who become your clients or customers you should do more to collect real data and write better personas based on the real data.

    Thanks for bringing up the issue.

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