Without understanding who your user is, you can not successfully execute a website or a marketing strategy. I use persona development for web architecture and for marketing tasks I take on.
Different users have different requirements and understanding your personas helps you customise your site or marketing campaigns accordingly. Persona development is not guess work either. There is no room for guessing when it comes to your web audience. Often website owners ‘think’ they know who their typical users are but this idea is vague and based on guess work. By using questionnaires you can develop a true persona (or personas), based on fact rather than fiction Persona development is often critised for being being stereotypical. It is. but I would prefer to have an idea of my users than not having a clue of who might be visiting my site.
When starting out with a website or marketing campaign you need to have a goal, you can not gauge a goal if you do not have an idea of who your user might be. It is obvious that all users are different but building personas helps you understand your users on a general level. Once you have a site or marketing campaign that targets your general personas you can then look to optimise further and test alternatives. A persona is usually build by collecting data from several questionnaires that are sent out to your current web audience. Here are some typical questions that may be asked in a Persona Questionnaire:
- Personal information (age, gender and location)
- Technical information (computer, browser)
- PC/Web Usage: (how and why they use the Web, and how often)
- Relationship/opinion: (about the company, client or organization)
- Opinion: (If there is an old site)
- General: (Websites they like and dislike)
You can tweak the questionnaire anyway you like to ensure you get the information you want. I find asking open ended questions may be a little more time consuming but it provides much more informative feedback. After looking at all questionnaires a persona profile is then written. A persona profile is a short description of a person written in a narrative style.