This article has been extracted from the Quirk eMarketing blog and was written by Katharina Scholtz, a quirk star whose posts I’ve been following quite a bit lately. After reading her bio, I hope she doesn’t kick my ass for dropping her article on here!
Designing your site with particular user persona’s in mind
Personas allow us to imagine and customise different paths through a website for different user types, based on an understanding of their goals for the site visit. I came across some interesting ideas in this regard in a video called “How to Use Personas to Improve Sales with Brian Eisenberg”.
Building a Persona
Eisenberg makes a few suggestions about how one can build a persona in the clip. He suggests that you “create snapshots of types of website visitors modeled by modes of buying behavior”.
You can do this by having a look at the key phrases that lead people to your site in order to understand user intent. The example he uses is “perfect diamond” vs “learn about diamonds”. The other suggestion he makes is that you interview your sales people, as they’ve had personal contact with your customers.
Go to the Source
What these suggestions highlight is that, even though there will be a certain level of interpretation, you should base it on information that is as accurate as possible. This means that you might have to find innovative ways to get to know your customer. A quick poll on the site might be the way to do this (I came across an interesting initiative in this regard that you might want to check out here).
Focus on Motivations
Dr. Lene Nielsen, a usability expert who did her doctorate in using personas, points out “that the whole purpose of personas is not to describe users as such, but to create solutions that take the needs of the persona as a starting point.” Focusing on the motivations and intentions of your user should stop you from thinking in terms of stereotypes, and help you to find the solutions you need for better navigation.
A Simple Solution
Go2Africa.com is a good example of using personas. The site uses navigation options based on what kind of holiday the site visitor wants (luxurious, romantic or adventurous to name a few). While these may seem like very simple options, the point is that they do represent user segment intentions.
While you may not have the resources to do endless research into user segments, thinking about your site in terms of personas is a great way to challenge your own ideas and develop your site’s usability.