The Benefits of User Personas

User personas are profiles of typical users of your products, services, website etc. that are used to build up a picture of who your customers are; what their preferences are, what characteristics they have, how they make their decisions and so on.

It can be easy to confuse user personas with simple demographics but the process needs to go much deeper than that to be effective. What you should be seeking to do in producing a persona is not just the obvious demographic information such as sex, age, social grouping, location (although all of this is useful in the initial definition and positioning) but to add the sort of data that provides a fuller understanding of the user.

benefits of personas

The types of area that might be included in such an analysis are:

  • Time spent online
  • Devices used to access the internet
  • Types of website visited
  • Media consumed (how and when)
  • Purchasing habits and patterns
  • Pastimes and interests

The list can go on but the basic principle here is that the data is useful in building a picture of the user as a consumer not only of products and services but of opinions and trends, attitudes, beliefs etc. Together this produces an overall profile that can indicate propensity to visit your sites, access particular types of marketing information and, ultimately, consume your product.

Personas can also be distinguished by being marketing personas or design personas – with the nature of the profile being dictated by the use to which it will be put. Marketing personas tend to focus on more defined characteristics such as age, disposable income, media consumption, message absorption etc. Design personas are more concerned with perception, image, attention span, literacy and other elements that determine user response to design, structure, layout.

So how are personas practically useful for your business?

  • User personas can help you understand users’ motivations and needs and how these translate to online use and consumption and, ultimately, purchasing decisions;
  • They can help to understand negative issues such as perceived obstacles or problems in your website or product range or deficits compared to competitors;
  • They help communicate a vision throughout your organisation of who you are targeting with your communications, designs, website structure and layout, branding and packaging etc. Having a detailed imaginary user in mind can help to focus the process of production and selling immensely;
  • If you define and understand personas accurately it should give you a better handle on the sort of language, messages, imagery that your users will associate with and respond to and the sort of aspirations, hopes and needs they hold and attribute to artefacts and items they desire or own.

If you are interested in using or finding out more about user personas why not contact us on +44(0)800 024624 or info@usability247.com

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