How to Create Profiles of Your Websites Target Audience - dummies

How to Create Profiles of Your Websites Target Audience

By David Karlins, Doug Sahlin

Profiles (also known as personas) are detailed descriptions of your users as individuals. While you’re developing your website’s content and design, don’t forget that the end users are individuals and may fall into a couple of different groups. Generalizing your audience makes it much harder to deliver truly helpful and engaging content. Profiles help you think about your users’ needs.

To effectively lead a website project, you must be careful to dig a little deeper into what kinds of people make up the target audience as well as what they want; otherwise, the site will try to be everything to everybody instead of being tailor made for the target audience. Luckily, certain techniques, including creating profiles, can help you avoid the common pitfalls of designing a user-friendly site.

Here are some easy steps to help you create a profile:

  1. Start with a general target audience description and then imagine one of those people standing out in the crowd.

    Refer to the notes from your initial meeting with the client to get a firm grasp of the general target audience.

  2. Create a detailed description of that individual.

    You can take it one step further by giving the person a name. Attaching a photo that fit the description of the persona to the profile is another way for you to envision this person. Your description of the person includes sex, age, income, buying habits, ethnicity, and so on. In short, you need to consider every possible detail about this person.

  3. Choose several more individuals from that target audience crowd.

    If your site will service multiple crowds, create several profiles for each crowd. For instance, if you’re making a site that helps kids with homework, you need to think of a group of teachers, a group of parents, and a group of kids.

  4. Select just a few individuals to represent the group.

    Starting with several individuals and then narrowing it down to only a few gives you more information at first, which you can focus on later. If you’ve really thought about your individuals, you should start to notice patterns that can help you focus on what their needs are.

With profiles in hand, develop a list of how to meet the needs of those individuals. Try to come up with specific ideas of how you will create a site to meet their needs.

For example, if you’re building an e-commerce site for people who are not so technologically savvy, you need a plan for how to help them use your site. You could plan to include an online tutorial and informational mini-site that explains to them the process and addresses the concerns they may have.

Consider a glossary or other materials that would help your users learn about e-commerce. Doing so can help customers feel more confident about doing business with the company.

Personas will also come in handy when you start to brainstorm content for the website. When you know which types of individuals will be visiting the site, you have a good idea of what type of content you need to create for them.

Paying careful attention to your users helps you create a site that delivers what they need and expect. You should be able to develop a good idea of what works well for them. Doing this upfront work helps you decide everything from look and feel to voice and functionality. Making sure your site is what your visitors need and want will help your site be a success.