Web Design Meets User Personas

by Wesley Farnam - Jun 11, 2014

Great Charlotte Web Design uses Personas to target an audience

What separates good web design from great web design? Great web design speaks to your audience in a way that they respond to. Great design transcends usability and practicality, providing a pixel-perfect experience that feels effortless and completely natural. In order to design and craft a user experience that feels intuitive, however, you must first create reliable and realistic representations of your key audience for reference. That's where user personas come in.

Here's Looking at You, Kid...

So, what is a persona? In everyday usage, a persona is a social role or a character played by an actor. The word is derived from Latin, where it originally referred to a theatrical mask. In terms of web development, personas act as stand-ins for real users and help guide decisions about functionality, design and ultimately marketing. A persona is a document created during the planning phase of a web design project which defines the behaviors and characteristics of users for your site.

"Developing user personas is an initial stage of web development that helps us design a site that resonates with visitors, motivates content sharing and increases conversation rates," said Jay Joyce, president of The Idea People. "Personas also provide a search engine optimization roadmap for a website, as it gives us a clear understanding of the keywords users will focus on."

Effective personas paint a clear picture of the user's needs and expectations and how they're likely to use the site. Personas can also be crucial in uncovering universal features and functionality. Ultimately, personas must accurately describe real, three-dimensional people with aspirations, passions, frustrations, values and beliefs. If you don't know who you're designing for, how can you create a great user experience?

Building an Ideal User Persona

Personas generally include the following key pieces of information:

1) Characteristics and Demographics: Where do they live? What gender are they? What level of education have they achieved? What is their income? What is their marital status? Do they have kids? This section should include biography information that outlines the user's occupation, location, age and even their picture.

2) Dreams and Aspirations: What are their goals? What does this persona need to accomplish? What information will they need to have addressed in order to accomplish their goal? We drill deeper by asking questions like what are their passions - are they politically conservative or liberal? What motivates them to share content with others?

3) Frustrations and Limitations: What are the limitations of this user? What about the process of navigating the website will cause frustration? How will their previous experience with your brand or on similar sites drive their behaviors? What information do they lack that will make this process more difficult?

Below is an example of a user persona:

The Idea People - Example User Persona

Connecting Personas to Web Design

"As a leading Charlotte web design company, we believe that great web design means more than beautiful pages and intuitive navigation," said Joyce. "By developing custom personas, we identify the needs of core customers and provide a one-of-a-kind user experience that will resonate with visitors and empower them to invest in your brand."

To learn more about how our approach can help your brand resonate with customers and convert traffic into sales, call Jay Joyce at 704-398-4437 or email jay@theideapeople.com.

Wesley Farnam
The Idea PeopleThe Idea People