Why You Should Define User Personas

You’ve fixed your website load time and ensured it’s mobile-friendly, but the bounce rate won’t go down. If that scenario sounds familiar, maybe you’re missing out on defining user personas. Having an in-depth understanding of your target audience that goes beyond demographics can be vital in surviving the crowded online market. And it’s not just B2C companies that need to pay heed to user personas. B2B organizations can benefit just as much from having well-defined user personas.

A user persona is a description of someone who is expected to engage with your business online. At the most basic level, personas are demographics and characteristics. For instance, a potential audience segment for an online music streaming website might be people in the age group of 18 to 30. Embellishing the demographic with more details, such as how many hours the potential audience members spend online, the kind of websites they visit, the kind of purchases they make online, etc., helps define personalities more intricately.

In terms of design and marketing, these advanced personas can be behavioral personas, goal-based personas or both. Continuing with the above example, a behavioral persona might be a young person who is in a relationship. Goal-based personas, on the other hand, focus on the most common goals of your visitors. Demographics and behavioral traits take a back seat in this approach. But both approaches have their own set of benefits, depending on the nature of your business. For instance, an e-commerce website might benefit more from goal-based user personas, since the range of potential users is usually huge. On the other hand, a niche news blog would do well to go with behavioral personas, since it has a fairly good idea of the kind of audience it is expecting.

How Are User Personas Helpful?

  1. They can provide a better understanding of your customers’ pain points. Defining the needs and wants of your audience is a key goal when creating user personas. If you have a clear understanding of what’s bugging your audience, you can address those issues with an intelligent UX/UI for your app or website. For instance, let’s say you run an online store dedicated to headphones. Research suggests that most of your traffic consists of people who are serious about music and have a tough time finding in-depth, objective articles on headphones. Keeping that in mind, you can design your store in a manner where long-form content is the focus. You give your audience in-depth, unbiased reviews of headphones, thereby bettering your chances of making fans out of potential customers.
  2. Become more knowledgeable about how your customers spend their time online. As you collect data on your potential audience and segment it into groups, you get a better understanding of how and where each segment spends its time online. This allows you to target your ads and content more efficiently since you now know where most of your potential audience is. For example, research could suggest that audiophiles spend the majority of their time online on newer social platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram instead of Facebook. This new information is useful for tailoring a more effective content and advertising strategy.
  3. Develop consistent brand language. When you define user personas and share them across the board, each team member is then aware of how to handle people from different persona groups. This is helpful in creating a consistent brand language, not to mention more effective sales pitches. Your sales team gets a better understanding of potential leads, the language they are likely to respond to, and the best possible strategy to convert the lead. Thus, defining user personas can help you shorten your sales cycle and increase your conversion rate.
  4. Create higher customer lifetime value. Defining user personas also allows you to gauge the group that is more likely to be most valuable to your company. You can then brief your sales team to look out for people that fit the group, thus making sales and marketing more efficient. With a clear understanding of who to target, your sales and marketing teams invariably spend more time in the right channels, getting better customers for your business.

Why Are User Personas Important?

  1. They are vital in redesign projects. If you are redesigning your app or website without defining user personas, you are basically going in blind and putting your money at risk. You need to know the most likely journey that people will take when they visit your website. Defining goal-based personas is the easiest way to get that information. For example, a heat map of your traffic could suggest that most people visit the features tab of your online product or service. When you commission a redesign, you keep the features on your homepage, allowing people to access the information they want easily. The easier you make it for people to find what they want, the likelier they are to stick around.
  2. They are crucial in agile design. Agile design is an iterative process where you keep making changes to your product or service based on feedback you get from your customers. Identifying personalities and behavioral traits of your audience is important to come up with useful features and iterations.

As someone in user experience design, I continually find myself reiterating the importance of user personas and how it can give businesses immediate results, whether in terms of conversions, brand value or engagement. When you understand who you are selling to, you can then come up with better content strategies and design language for your website. For instance, if you know that high-level executives form a large chunk of your audience, it’s likely that they would respond better to a cleaner, more sophisticated design and content that gives them in-depth knowledge. When you have that information, you can then get your point across much more easily, which increases your conversion rates. In fact, as you begin to speak the language of your consumers, it can increase your brand recall and ultimately make loyal fans out of your customers.