• Design
  • Website Planning

What is a User Persona?

Written by Alex Curtis

“What do my customers want?”

It’s something every business wants to know.

While customer needs are constantly changing, past strategies and last year’s sales reports may not always give you the right answer.

Locking down the ideal user personas for your business can provide a good understanding of what your website visitors seek in your products and services – as well as the motivations behind their actions.

 

Firstly, what do we mean by a user persona? 

A user persona is a fictional representation of your real world customers portrayed purely in terms of how they interact with your website. It is a consolidated document containing the customer’s interests, background, personality and various other details.

These ‘character’ profiles are then used to make web decisions with the users in mind throughout, to complement your use of data in working out your web approach.

Asking yourself questions on whether or not a customer will engage is made much easier to visualise once this sort of profile is considered.

After you have created your user persona examples, you can ask questions such as: 

For example:  

Will John be interested in our premium package?

Will Mary engage with a more modern web design?

Is Bob likely to watch our video tutorials?

Using this approach allows you to make web design decisions that are user-focused, will save you on development costs and significantly improve your user experience. 

 

The importance of user personas 

User personas are important because they help you understand your target audience. 

By creating a customer persona, you can better understand what motivates each user, what their needs and wants are, and how to best reach them. 

Customer personas also help you create more targeted content and journeys that resonate with your audience. When done correctly, personas can be a powerful tool in your marketing arsenal.

 

What should you keep in mind when creating user personas?

  1. Ensure they are accurate – Make sure that your personas are based on user research so that they are an honest representation of your audience
  2. Make them specific – The more specific you can be, the better. This way, you can really hone in on your users’ needs and wants.
  3. Keep them updated – As your target audience changes over time, so should your personas. Make sure to keep them up-to-date so that you’re always reaching them in the most effective way possible.

Creating a user persona is an important first step in understanding your target audience. By taking the time to create a persona, you can ensure that your marketing efforts are more targeted and effective.

 

UX session

 

Common mistakes when creating user personas 

When creating a user profile, it is important to avoid making common mistakes that can lead to an inaccurate representation of your target audience.

 

Failing to include enough demographic information

One common mistake is failing to include enough demographic information.

It is important to include things like age, location, and occupation when creating a persona.

This information helps you better understand who your target audience is and what their needs may be.

 

Making too many assumptions in your user persona development

However having said this, another common mistake is making too many assumptions about your target audience. So it’s important to consider demographic information carefully. 

Just because someone is from a particular demographic, it does not mean that they will have the same interests as others in that group. It is important to get to know your target audience on an individual level so that you can create a persona that is truly representative of them.

To achieve this, you should speak to real users from each group and gather their perspectives wherever possible.

 

Overgeneralisation of your target audience

A final common mistake is the overgeneralisation of your target audience. While it is important to have a general idea of who you are marketing to, it is also important to remember that each person is an individual.

Creating a customer persona that is too general can lead to ineffective marketing campaigns and a loss of potential customers.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can create a user persona that is accurate and representative of your target audience.

This will help you  create customer personas which will lead to more effective marketing campaigns that resonate with your audience and lead to conversions.

 

How to build customer personas

When creating your user personas, you should begin by collecting as much real world data on your customers through user research.

Create a document or slide deck containing the following:

  • Name: Can be a memorable made up name or the actual customer name.
  • Photo: Putting a face to a name helps visualise and recall the profile more easily. 
  • Background/Bio: This can range from hobbies and interests to job title and daily functions.
  • Demographics: Includes attributes such as age, location and income bracket.
  • Personality traits: Includes habits e.g. ‘Tends to research and compare products before purchasing.’
  • Context: In what context are they approaching your website? Why have they come to you today?
  • Prior knowledge: Are they already aware of your product/service/brand? What knowledge, positive or negative, are they bringing with them?
  • Motivations: Understand what drives the customer e.g. Is the user career driven? Do they seek new opportunities and adventures?
  • Goals/Frustrations: Goals defined here should align with your business. Are they looking to improve a software skill e.g. Will your SaaS product help them achieve this goal?
  • Preferences: Does the customer shop for high end products? Are they keen on particular brands?

 

 

Collecting data from your users 

There are a few different ways to collect data from your users.

This will be important information to underpin your marketing, website and content planning, and should ensure that all your marketing activity is relevant and valuable for your users. 

 

Surveys 

One way is to use surveys. Surveys can be distributed to your target audience through social media, your website, or via email.

Surveys are an effective way to collect data because they allow you to reach a large number of people in a short amount of time.

They also provide you with specific information about your target audience. 

Another benefit of using surveys is that they allow you to collect data anonymously.

This is important because it allows people to be honest in their responses.

People may be hesitant to share personal information with you directly, but they are more likely to do so if they know their information will remain anonymous.

 

Interviews 

Interviews are another great way to collect data from your users.

When you conduct an interview, you can ask specific questions that will help you understand the needs and interests of your target audience.

You can also get a better sense of who they are as people and what their motivations may be.

 

Why are user persona interviews valuable? 

Conducting interviews is a great way to collect qualitative data.

This type of data is important because it can help you understand the emotions and motivations behind your target audience’s actions.

This can be difficult to understand through surveys and other quantitative data sources.

Interviews also allow you to get a more in-depth understanding of your target audience.

When you conduct an interview, you can ask follow-up questions and get clarification on answers.

This helps to ensure that you are accurately representing your target audience in your user profiles.

 

Website 

Website analytics are a great way to collect information about your target audience. You can use website data to track the demographics of your target audience, as well as their interests and needs. This type of data is important because it can help you understand who your target audience is and what they are looking for.

Website data is also anonymous, accurate and quantitative. This means that you can be sure that the data you collect is representative of your target audience.

 

Get to know your users 

We’ve covered some of the key areas of user profiles in this blog, but our recent content series – The B2B Website Planning Series – goes into much more detail and breaks down what exactly you need to do to create your user personas. 

Subscribe for step-by-step advice and guidance to help you get started. 

 

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