Know your customer: craft design and copy to them directly and have better usabilty, and more importantly – higher conversion.
What is a persona?…
A detailed profile of your targeted demographic.
Includes age, social position, environment, aspirations, personality traits, skills and personal details. The persona character should have a name and ideally a photograph to bring it to life. Essentially a vignette of your customer which can be used for design and copy direction to ensure you appeal directly to your user.
A persona is not a stereotype or a customer profile. A stereotype is merely a caricature and like an illustration is susceptible to the reader injecting their own interpretation. A customer profile is a generalisation of demographic ie; tweenager or mid-lifer and not descriptive enough for persona requirements.
The persona must be realistic and believable; so that you can envisage dialogue and interaction.
The ideal persona will be an A4 narrative of your customers personality and life. Considering Maslows heirachy of needs you will address; physiological, safety, belonging, esteem and self-actualisation needs.
What a persona can do for your website
Frank Long’s research paper, Real or Imaginary: the effectiveness of using personas in product design: highlighted the importance of directing design towards the user and not just the designers objectives:
“The results showed that, through using personas, designs with superior usability characteristics were produced. They also indicate that using personas provides a significant advantage during the research and conceptualization stages of the design process.”
How is it possible to encourage a user to purchase a product if you don’t know who you are speaking to? Having a clear definition ensures you talk their language and emotionally appeal to them with your brand.
“Speak to the dog, about what matters to the dog in the language of the dog.” Jeff Eisenberg, Call to Action.
A website that has been designed and targeted with the use of a persona will be more appealing to your consumer; because it is designed directly to them.
The average designer will make choices that result in site that appeals to them; not necessarily what appeals to your customer. Designers prefer to produce sites with an objective of peer recognition; a site that wins design awards. Who is more important: what you designer thinks or what your customer thinks?
Application of focused personas can have a distinct impact even on existing major brands: Staples’ online revenue went from $3 billion to $4.9 billion within two years after a major site redesign that included the development of seven personas and a decision to design primarily for the two most important ones. Taken from an article by Elizabeth Gardner of internet retailer.
A Persona can be inexpensive and straightforward to create, it just takes time and enthusiasm. The rewards from having a focused brand and website will pay off with higher conversion rates. Part 2 of How a persona can improve your website shows which questions you need to ask to create a persona for your business.