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How to Create User Personas for your Website

Creating User Personas is similar to behavioral profiling.

You’re anticipating the next set of actions from your site’s common or frequent visitors. To appeal to them further, you create a persona that mirrors their personality, and this will shine through your website’s content and design.

User Personas help drive your site’s likeability up a notch. The debate as to whether we user personas are really necessary is quite an interesting one. To the casual observer, a user personas may come off as a fictional vanity project or some trendy off-the bat marketing technique, but you’d be surprised that user personas have a place in digital history when it comes to making sense of consumer data.

User Persona: A Brief History

Back in the 80s, Alan Cooper, a software engineer, had a thing going for interaction design, and he generated user marketing personas to represent the demographics he was designing interfaces for. He would walk around golf courses thinking about the personality traits of end users and what drives them to make responsive decisions around a design interface. This wasn’t just Cooper’s imagined world, and he had a massive amount of data to go on. The puzzle here for Mr. Cooper is what was the common face behind all those numbers? So he created these user archetypes that helped narrow down focus on product decisions and user interactions. He is an early pioneer credited with developing the user persona method. Today, user personas are commonly used and regarded as a powerful marketing technique in driving usability.

What is a User Persona?

The gist of it – your site data, analytics, and market research establishes the baseline of your demographics, but how do you make sense of the data effectively that it helps in the messaging of your digital marketing campaigns? Simply put, user personas come into the picture; they help give online brands a focal point. Mainly, you get to know who’s clicking behind your links, who’s buying, who’s answering pop-up questions and filling out contact forms.

A user persona is a representation of your key visitor. According to usability.gov, this should be based on qualitative and quantitative research plus digital analytics.

Think of a user persona as someone you can visualize, that end user clicking the mouse who is primarily interested in your website. By collecting common consumer behaviors, loyalty values, attitudes that are expressed towards your brand- these reflect how someone interacts with your online presence. Give it much thought, just who is this person buying items from your website?

In planning your website and digital campaigns, you can create a special message for these end users that would further attract their brand loyalty.

This is especially true for large e-commerce websites, with a massive inventory, creating user personas can help funnel end users towards the products that would most likely appeal to them, further impacting sales and conversions.

So what user persona is right for your digital campaign? And how do you create it for your website? Here's a good start.

Check your analytics data.
Start from there, the data is proof and doesn’t lie, what it needs is someone to go knee-deep and try to understand the numbers, to identify, divide and categorize data based on parameters useful to your campaign.

Visualize a personality profile.
Is this even a person? What or who does your user persona look like? Is it a relatable person, mascot, animal, or object of desire?

Mapping the behavior type, list the traits.
How does the user persona speak and interact with others?

Create an overview.
Create an extensive guideline on how this user persona will impact your brand and how they are tied in together. List highlights on how they influence each other.

Build a user persona style guide.
Establish the tone of the copy, the speaking tone, and attitude, the fonts, and colors that reflect the user persona.

Example of User Personas

User personas provide a unique peek and compact description of a type of person interested in your brand. Here are three examples of an online book store that specializes in sci-fi and fantasy titles.
1st Persona – James is a 42-year-old translator who only logs in from his mobile phone, and never on a desktop. He only plays PC games exclusively on his desktop and reserves all his online shopping activities before bedtime. He often places book orders on Mondays so that he can receive his package before Friday. He then spends his weekend reading, mostly the series Wheel of Time, classic and hard sci-fi titles.
2nd Persona – Hazel is a 26-year-old social media manager who spends 60% of her day connected online. She uses her Macbook, office Desktop, and iPhone for online purchases. She does not read physical books instead subscribes to bookstore apps and purchases eBooks on her Kindle. She is fond of urban fantasy and YA dystopian fiction titles.
3rd Persona –Tim is an 18-year-old college student who uses his android phone to access the web. Tim also owns a Kindle and a laptop where he has amassed a lot of eBooks through discounts and online gift checks. He buys an average of 3 new book titles per month, 1 title is often an audiobook. He likes dark medieval fantasy books, classic space operas, and sci-fi audio books.
As you can see, the detailed online behavior and purchase preferences that are integral to knowing the user’s mindset. Though obviously, these are three entirely different people, these design personas come from a summary of empirical data, which perhaps explains why certain books are consistent bestsellers at certain times of the day and week. But being given a thumbnail view of the user persona this way, you can use this detailed narrative to help you improve on their user experience, and even geo-target certain age groups. After all, this user persona is James or Hazel is not just one singular person, but a summary of a hundred or a thousand loyal people inclined to purchase similar book titles. Their behavior means feedback on your online brand and how you present your products and services to them.

Make a User Persona Work for your Brand

A user persona can create a lasting connection between your brand target audience. Planning your online campaign without one is like going at it without a compass. Without a user persona to start with, you might find your marketing team confused and working on several random personalities that might come out during development. A designer might read this persona differently from the way a marketing person would, and it might result in a different concept altogether, creating an in cohesive impression to end users. So before starting, it would be better to sit down and construct the user personal from the data and get everyone on the same page. It should be a shared experience for everyone involved in the brand development and web design process.

Presenting the right brand persona is beneficial to your brand in the long term, it embodies your vision, your deep understanding of your customer and what you want people to associate your online presence with.

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