Join Morten Rand-Hendriksen for an in-depth discussion in this video Establishing user personas, part of Mapping the Modern Web Design Process.
- Second only to the content itself, the most important thing to consider when building a website, is the end user and what she wants. To this end, it's important to create user personas, a set of imaginary people that describe the end user or users of the site. Personas allow us to create user-centric designs and ensure that we focus on and empathize with the people we are endeavoring to reach. In practical terms, a user persona is quite similar to a character sheet in a role-playing game.
The persona is a list of traits and attributes that describe an archetypal end user. Gender, age, social status, occupation, etc., as well as what goals this person has and how they relate to the website. Why is she here and what does she want? The process of creating personas starts with investigating who you want to reach with the website. This could be existing or perspective customers or it could be social media users, a specific demographic, or even specific groups like people who work in mass media.
The question you should ask is, "Who are we trying to reach "with this website?" And the answer, the people you want to target, are the ones you model your personas on. When creating personas, it's vitally important to base them on real end users. That means identifying groups of typical end users, sitting down with them, and collecting data relevant to the website and its goals, and collating that data into archetypes. On a side note, I strongly encourage paying or otherwise compensating the people you use in your research.
It'll make them more willing to participate, more active during your engagement with them, and, in all honesty, it's only fair. I recommend creating at least three different personas for any project. One or more middle of the road personas that tick off every box on the site's target audience checklist, and two or more extremes that represent the outer edges of the body of possible visitors. Once the personas have been established, they should be used as reference points whenever questions about content, design and user experience come up.
Is this title something that would appeal to Alice A? Is Bertold B. going to click on this button without being prompted? Would Catherine C. fill out this form if it also means signing up for a newsletter? Share the personas with the whole team, print them out and place them around the workplace, and use them until they become as familiar as a close friend. To learn more about personas and how to create them, you should go check out Chris Nodder's course, Foundations of UX: Creating Personas, right here in the Lynda.com library.
- Understanding what your users care about
- Creating user personas
- Creating content priority hierarchies
- Testing wireframes and interaction patterns
- Establishing a three-track build process
- Incorporating accessibility principles
- Using content blocks
- Testing and revising your web design
- Optimizing for social media and SEO
- Launching your web design
- Getting feedback from users