User personas, in a simple definition, are a tool used by people like web designers, usability experts, and marketers to help create a website (or other tools/platforms/products) with a specific audience in mind.
By creating a profile related to your target audience, it becomes much easier to create a website that delivers on your business objectives. This activity also lets you avoid those failed projects where you invest the time and resources, but end up creating something for yourself rather than your customers.
What is a user persona?
A user persona is a detailed profile that describes an imaginary member of your target audience. This member actually represents a whole group of users that display similar behaviours and motivations for using your website.
What information is included in a user persona?
This can depend on what your project is, and who your audience is, but in general some characteristics that are often used in a profile include:
- Name and photo
- Age, sex, location
- Occupation and salary
- Main job responsibilities
- Web ability
- The user’s objective for going on the website
- Emotional state when using the website
- Behaviour on a website
You can find a sample persona from UXmag.com here
Advantages of user personas
- Improves quality of work: Having a more robust picture of your audience allows you to create a website that truly speaks to them and their needs.
- Faster projects: Getting to know your customers also helps you avoid starting and re-starting a project as you go back and forth over the needs of the user and make assumptions over their behaviours.
- Prevents dead-end or failed projects: Like the points above, you will avoid investing in a website, project or tool that isn’t suited to the user and, therefore, will not be used.
- Focuses your team: Developing user personas let the marketers, designers (whoever) keep the various website users at top of mind; this will help them from sliding back into marketing/writing/designing for themselves rather than the customer
- Learn about your customer: User personas encourage you to open a discussion with your customers and get a multidimensional picture of the users. This delivers benefits across all areas of your business and both on and off the web.
- Provides a new mindset: This isn’t a once-off exercise but a new way of thinking for your entire organisation (not just the marketing team). You’re getting the bigger picture about you audience, not an incomplete idea about their behaviour and motivations.
At bwired, we often draw on user personas in our content strategy plans for clients because we know how easy it can be for a marketer to slip into the old mindset of writing for yourself and not for your customer. But this is only one area where user personas are useful. It also crosses over to the sales, design and development teams just as easily.
If you need help discovering who your target audience is, or you want to know more about your users, give us call on 1300 788 566 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We don't want to see your list of website requirements - we want to see your business strategy. At bwired, we draw on those business ideas in order to build the most effective online assets that are right for your organisation.
We’ll also be hosting a User Experience seminar on June 26th that will cover a similar topic – UX. For more information and to register for this free event, visit our Events page.