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Thinking about personas

From: Web Site Strategy and Planning

Video: Thinking about personas

Clearly, some target audiences are more important than others. The usual rule of thumb in business is the 80/20 rule, 80% of your business will come from 20% of your customers. You need to make sure you understand that 20% very well, and you're getting them exactly what they need. But what about the other 80%? Some of those audiences are groups you'll want to grow, because you think your service or product is a good match for their needs. Other audiences have very specific needs that might be well served on a website.

Thinking about personas

Clearly, some target audiences are more important than others. The usual rule of thumb in business is the 80/20 rule, 80% of your business will come from 20% of your customers. You need to make sure you understand that 20% very well, and you're getting them exactly what they need. But what about the other 80%? Some of those audiences are groups you'll want to grow, because you think your service or product is a good match for their needs. Other audiences have very specific needs that might be well served on a website.

You can start to understand these groups by humanizing them. One this is done is via personas. A persona is a fictitious person, who represents a composite of a number of traits of a given user combined. They can be helpful for thinking about what's required on the website and how it would work. For example, let's think about a hotel website. One typical user is a business person who travels frequently. They want to get into website, get a rate, book a room and get out quickly. That is, of course, a very important market for the travel industry and someone who must be well served on travel websites.

An atypical user is one who might not be addressed as a large part of the target audience, but may have some very specific needs that must be addressed. For example, if you were in a wheelchair, you might still need to book a hotel room. However, you need to make sure you can get an accessible room, so that you can use the sink, take a shower and get in and out of bed easily. Not just any room in the hotel will work for you and not all hotels offer accessible rooms.

Of course, hotels want to grow their business, many hotels have conference rooms they'd like to fill regularly. They need to reach out to conference organizers and make sure they know that the hotel has those facilities available. They might want to talk about food, Internet access and what office supplies are available, such as screens, projectors, flip charts and pens. Alternatively, the hotel might want to grow its casual traveler base. Grandparents always want to visit their grandchildren, but sometimes they don't live in the same town.

Perhaps the grandchildren live in a small house with no room for the grandparents to spend the night, or maybe the grandparents just like to sleep late in the morning. Senior citizens frequently have time, money and motivation to travel. So, they are a great group for a hotel to reach. Now let's think about how a persona might apply to Hansel & Petal. We've developed three personas in the case of Hansel & Petal. One is a wedding planner, one is a corporate planner and one is an atypical user, a restaurant owner.

First of all the Wedding Planner. Ashley: Hi! I am Ashley, I am 32 and I have been doing wedding planning since I was 24. I got started when I planned my own wedding. My best friend asked me to help her with her wedding and then my business grew from there. I now employ two other planners and we work on approximately five to six weddings at a time, at various stages of completion. Since my job is to make a bride's dream come true, I have many details to tend to, including venues, the cake, the flowers, ministers, music, favors, food, and so much more.

I prefer to work with partners that I've worked with many times before. I like knowing I can count on my partners to simply get the job done. Lately, I've been more into a niche of serving brides who really care about the environment. That's why it's so important to me to find local vendors who also care about the environment. Jen: Second, let's take our corporate planner. Ron: Hi! I am Ron, I work at a large bank in LA and several times a year, the bank has big meetings, senior staff members, board of directors, shareholder meetings that kind of stuff.

And when these things come along, I am the one that coordinates the travel arrangements, the hotel, the meals, the workspace, all of that, and I always have some greenery brought in. Now, I don't want to own these plants. I am not going to take care of them. I don't even want to hire somebody to take care of them. Oh! And I like to have big bouquets on the banquet tables too. I don't know anything about flowers or plants. I just know they make the place look good. I am great at logistics, but what I want with these plants and greeneries, I want to call somebody, have them come out to the site, decide what's going to make it look good and deliver on time.

They do that, I'm a happy camper. Jen: Finally, our restaurant owner. Mary: Hi! I am Mary and I own Mary's Garden restaurant in downtown LA. I am proud to say it's an All-Vegan restaurant. I am very aware of my client's beliefs and why they come to see me frequently, as I have many of those beliefs to myself. I've practiced for a long time to make vegan food that is delicious and the fact that my values compliment those of my clients is an added bonus. Mary's Garden got its name from all of the greenery in the restaurant, in addition to the all-vegan menu.

As my restaurant gains in popularity, making sure the plants stay watered, trimmed and looking healthy is very important to me. I also want fresh long-lasting flowers for the tables, preferably in season, and preferably local. I would like to bundle the greenery service with the flowers to have one bill and save a little money. Jen: A persona will help put a name in a face on your important target audience groups. They provide a useful metric, when planning a website.

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Web Site Strategy and Planning

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Jen Kramer
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