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The Benefits of Creating Website-specific Personas

While most of a website’s ability to attract attention results from SEO, it is also important to focus on who it is we are trying to attract. Persona development ensures that we focus our SEO, content strategy, and lead generation efforts in the right direction. Even if you know your clients better than you know your family, and even if you have already created client personas, it is still worth taking the small amount of time necessary to create website- specific personas.

Creating personas is one of the most important and overlooked aspects of website planning. Steve Mulder, author of The User is Always Right, defines personas as “realistic personality profiles that represent a significant group of your users.” It is important to create personas for two basic reasons: one, our sites exist to serve our users, and two, we are, by definition, not our users.
Personas help you to focus on the groups of visitors to your site who matter most; they help you better relate to and understand your visitors; and they help to build consensus among your web planning team. Well-crafted personas serve as a guide for the site development planning stages and are helpful when navigating through the trickier elements of dealing with information design, visual design, call to action creation, and content strategy planning. In the coming pages, I will outline a specific persona development process that is a good mix of what is approachable and useful for marketing websites. For an in-depth guide to persona development for the web, I recommend reading Mulder’s book.

When creating personas, a good goal is to come up with about three of them. If you have more than three legitimate and distinct prospect groups, it might be time to reevaluate your firm’s market positioning with an eye toward narrowing it. You should allow for roughly two weeks of time for qualitative persona development.

This post is an excerpt from my book, “A Website That Works.”


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