Personas talk sense

Whatever your business, research is vital for creating a good customer experience

The way your customers behave online is constantly changing. And if you haven't researched their preferences and needs, you probably don't understand them as well as you think.

To get to grips with who they are and what they want, you should create archetypes of people who use your site – or personas. This is relatively quick to do and in the long run can save you lots of time and money.

That's because your personas will help you build a picture of what your visitors want, enabling your team to look at projects from a user-centred perspective and fix any niggling issues during the development process.

You might want to think of them as stand-ins for each section of your audience against which you can test your ideas and decisions.

How to create personas

Personas work best when they are built from research and sector knowledge.

A good starting point is to survey your audience and then interview some selected people in greater depth. You can collect lots of useful data online but may want to pick up the phone and speak with your customers too, in order to get a more detailed response.

How long should they be?

Personas don't need to be long character studies – they need to be easy to use and refer back to. But they do need to feel real, which is where you'll need to call on good copywriting and creative ideas.

You should shape your personas around the preferences, needs and behaviours that will impact your project. Include background copy on why they are using your service, how they found it and what their expectations are.

A different take

Personas provide an alternative perspective throughout the decision-making process. They can help you challenge the dominant logic within your organisation, so that choices are informed by the people who define your success inside and outside the business.

Bringing personas into the heart of delivery – as though they're a member of your project team providing feedback along the way – will help you switch to user-centred thinking. This will in turn lead to better online experiences and stronger relationships with your customers.

UXB London apply user-centred thinking to help businesses succeed online.

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