User Personas are hypothetical groups that represent real, living and breathing people who will be the customers that will engage with your website. When you think of the thousands of potential website users that you'll get each day it's hard to design for the needs of every single person individually, however you can have a huge impact on the success of your website if you can aim parts of the website specifically for one or more groups at a time.
How to create your customer personas
I've put together this free guide to help get you started creating your own User Personas.
STEP 01 //
Write a list of your most common customer types
Stereotype and pigeon-hole them
I know, we're not supposed to do that right?! But here it's important. We can't design for everyone on your website so instead pick a handful of the most common user types that share common traits.
Common ways to group people would be those who:
- Share the same issues or call with the same problems
E.g the customer who never understands that you have to buy in bulk
- Want to buy the same products in the same way
E.g the customers who only come in on Tuesdays to get the pizza special
- Have the same goals or objectives
E.g members wanting to download a registration form
- Have the same fears
E.g the technophobes worrying that solar power is too technical for them
- Have the same temperament
E.g they are too nervous to ask questions but you know your product is perfect for them
STEP 02 //
MAKE THEM REAL
Give them a name, age, photo and personality
By giving these user groups a name and a face they suddenly become people instead of data. If you know that Sheila, 34 from Palmerston, likes to get lots of background information on a product we can start to sympathise and understand why that might be. We can start to map out external issues that we might need to consider:
- How much time do that have?
E.g do they rush from place to place and need information quickly, or do they have time to browse and compare.
- What's their emotion when contacting you?
E.g do your customers need to contact you only when something breaks? Does this mean they'll always be stressed when they contact you?
- How do they like to be spoken to?
E.g do they like to have a laugh, or are they serious and have no time for jokes
STEP 03 //
WHAT DO THEY WANT, AND HOW DO THEY WANT IT
Create and map content for their needs
After you understand the personal situation of the person you can work out how you could help them to be happier. If you can make someone happier when they leave your site then you just managed to score some serious bonus points with them.
Write a list of the top things that each persona is coming to your website to get, and then work out how likely it is that you can market to them.
- What is the main bit of content that they want to find
E.g is it a form, is it a phone number, is it a price?
- What can you do to make this customer's life easier?
E.g can you provide some instructions to tell them to call you if they're struggling? Can you make the form faster to fill in? Can you provide a link to some helpful guides?
- How stressed are they?
E.g if they're stressed, don't bother marketing until the end of their journey as they'll ignore it. If they're excited (e.g on an events website) then you can ride on that excitement by providing more distractions throughout
- What do you need to tell them?
E.g what's the content that this person doesn't know? What can you tell them to make them understand your company better?
Next, test the website from their perspective
Did it work for them?
Now that you are able to see them as real people and understand how they feel whilst they're looking for specific content you can start to get an idea of whether the website you have designed is working for them or not. You can slowly start to make changes and provide helpful hints for the different user types and see your website improve.
Example test case; The Day Spa
An existing homepage for a day spa has examples of the products that you can buy from their online shop, voucher promotion areas, a sliding banner of special offers, a treatment menu, a message from the owners, payment options logos, promotional videos, upcoming courses that the staff will go on and facebook page promotions, but even with all of that promotional space no one was coming back to the website and product sales were low.
After reviewing the main user personas they found that there were three main types of customers with specific individual needs;
- People wanting to book a treatment to relax - These people were looking for pure relaxation, no noise, no videos/facebook adverts/payment options etc. They wanted to see a treatment menu with prices and a way to book. They wanted to know that they would have a relaxing experience so wanted to feel calm on the website with large images of people relaxing and calming language throughout
- People wanting to buy gifts for loved ones - These people had very little interest in the business, they only want to see what treatment packages there are and buy a voucher quickly as they were often buying this at work or when their loved one was in the other room
- People wanting to buy products - These people are web savvy and know which products they want to buy. They want the website to have lots of special offers and cheaper prices than other websites selling the exact same products. They need to feel assured that the company is big enough to have lots of stock and lots of staff to deal with order quickly and efficiently.
After reviewing the website it was clear that it was far too busy to interest the people who wanted to relax or buy vouchers, they wanted something sleek and uncluttered, but the people wanting to buy products needed something more promotional and wanted to buy from a company with lots of experience selling products. In this example it's clear that a completely separate website needed to be created to sell products and the day spa itself should have it's own premium portfolio website. The two websites can cross link to each other and feature the same branding so that the businesses are joined clearly and there is a clear indication of the size of the business and its professional ability.
Need some more help?
If you're still not sure whether your website could do with some professional UX help, get in touch or send the link to your website and I'll get back to you with some personalised advice.