How to create a Persona for your website – Part 2

Creating a persona for your business can be easily achievable with plenty of motivation. This article follows on from How a Persona can improve your website Part 1, and covers how to easily create a persona for your business.

How you can begin to create basic personas

Persona creation can be a huge investment. Focus groups, extensive interviewing, set building and role playing. It doesn’t need to be that way if you have no budget but lots of enthusiasm.

The starting point is to talk to as many of your potential or existing customers as you can. This can be be done in person (if you have a traditional shop), in the street if you are geo centered, by phone or by taking advantage of social media marketing such as facebook and twitter. Facebook can be an outstanding medium to tap into an audience: listen to the chat or invite discussion through joining groups and asking what people want from your product or service.

Also talk to your employees, especially if you have a sales team. Collect as much data as possible.

Then you need to ask the following questions:

Age, sex, ethnicity
Family
Where do they live
What is their job title
What is their education standard (inc reading level)
What is their political stance
Social status
What are their social groups (clubs, gyms, photographers, cyclists etc)
Daily routine
Pets
Level of technical competence (important to define internet abilities)

Then you can address esteem needs and self-actualisation:

Personality type
Aspirations & ambitions
Level of confidence, self esteem
Day to day goals
Long term goals
Relationships

Once you have the basic profile you need to consider how they will interact with your product or service:

What do they expect from your industry
Why do they need your product or service
What difference would your product make to their job role and with their boss
What negative experiences have they had with a similar brand product
What would make them repeat buy
What emotion would they expect to feel from your service

If you collected enough initial research you should be able to answer these questions. If you can’t talk to more people.

Example persona

From the list of questions you can then offer a summary of each section:

Jane Walker lives in Manchester, is 34 and lives with her boyfriend of 5 years. They have a city centre apartment and one car. She works in an designer clothing store as a manager and loves the perks of discounted clothing. Her family live an hours drive away and she sees them on average every 2 weeks. She has no children and one sister who lives and works in London, they are not very close. Jane starts work at 9.30 till 6 and always works Saturdays, she goes to the gym 3 evening a week and meets her girl friends for a drink every Friday night. Jane has been using the internet for 8 years and uses email, facebook and twitter on a daily basis… etc

Jane is confident and is pleased with her level of success. Her ambition is to open her own clothing store but would like to start a family first and this is more important to her. Jane would like her boyfriend to propose but he is not ready to commit, this makes her feel insecure and can be controlling at work to compensate.… etc

Jane is very fashion conscious and style is important to her personally and in her career. As she receives a substantial clothing discount at work she purchases the majority of her clothes from the store. But she does prefer to source unique items so she can keep her status as a fashion forward individual and not have items the same as her employees. If she can find a vintage handbag she would feel a surge of adrenaline at the thought of her employees admiring her find and feeling superior. Delivery times are important for her being able to purchase online as she is out of the house all day, if she can have the item delivered to work this encourages her to buy…etc

Imagine if you were selling handbags online, how that information would offer a clear insight into the buying behaviour of your target customer. Also, how that information could be used to appeal to Jane and improve your website conversion through design and copy.

A persona picture speaks a thousand words

Using a photograph to illustrate your persona will help convey messages it may be difficult to define in words. A narrative will always engender a variety of response from different people. Readers use their own experiences to imaginatively create their own interpretation. A photograph is much harder to misconstrue.

Interestingly upon testing illustrations should be avoided:

Using illustrations instead of photographs of the persona would seem to reduce effectiveness. It can lead to selective consideration of the persona characteristics and can increase the risk of self-referential details being superimposed onto the persona. The study also reported a lower level of empathy towards the illustrated persona and a diminished ability among students to recall details about the persona after time.” Frank Long at the National College of Art and Design

A picture of a real person is easier to identify with than a textual description alone.

Persona definition in summary…

Persona definition on any level will benefit a website. Tailoring design and copy to a specific personality will connect with your user. A user needs to feel like they connect emotionally with a brand/site to really enjoy their experience. When a user can relate and connect to a site, they trust the site.

Web users are now in control of the two way dialogue created in the website space. They may be hesitant or mistrustful. If you want to convince your customers to buy or partake in your site you must speak to them directly and make a connection. You can only do this if you know who you are talking to…

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