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Stage 1 — User analytics and persona development

User analytics and persona development help you get a better understanding of your website’s audience. For Salsa, we identified four personas, detailing each persona’s needs and how those needs can be served.

Phillipa M 11 November 2019

Start with the users

A website should always be designed with the users front-of-mind. This user-centred approach should be followed throughout all stages, but it’s particularly important early on to identify your user types (their personas) and find out as much about them as possible.

Analytics as user research

Analytics can actually provide you with a lot of information about your users. We looked at general site traffic, including: spikes, the most popular pages/sections of our existing site, and user flow (how users moved through the site).

Frontline user research (anecdotal)

Next, we spent a lot of time talking about characteristics of our current clients and leads we’ve had come in through the website and from other areas. We discussed these clients and prospective clients in depth, covering areas such as:

  • Job title

  • Gender

  • Age

  • Needs and pain points

  • Possible solutions for these needs and pain points

  • What they’re looking for in a digital partner

Not surprisingly, most of our discussions were on the last three points.

Next, we moved onto persona development.

What are personas?

Personas are fictional ‘people’ you create to represent your users throughout the design process. It’s important to think of them as real people, as individuals, and to flesh them out like a character. Personas are high level archetypes that represent many of your users/clients. The aim is to develop a strong sense of your users — their behaviour, needs and how you can serve those needs.

The process of developing personas

The trick with persona development is to imagine a real person. The goal is to make this person feel real. Much like character development, we give this person a name, gender, age, occupation, likes/dislikes, hobbies, etc.

Salsa’s personas

Through two workshops, we developed four different personas based around their role:

  1. Head of digital

  2. Director of comms

  3. IT manager

  4. Technical talent (potential Salsa employees)

For each person we decided on their:

  • Name

  • Gender

  • Age

  • Location

  • Marital status

After these very basic stats we moved onto more specific areas — including whether they had kids and/or pets, basic personality types, what they liked to do in their spare time, what was important to them, and so on. While these details may seem quite arbitrary the purpose of agreeing them is two-fold:

  1. So we think deeply about the persona

  2. So we’re able to more deeply in-tune with the persona as we move through the user-centred design process

Next we moved to needs — what does this person need? This covered some general things (e.g. work-life balance), but we also thought specifically about what they needed from a digital partner and what they needed from our website. For this section, we broke into small groups and brainstormed the needs, writing each one on a Post-it-Note. We then put these up on the whiteboard, grouping similar ones together. Each person was then allowed to put one dot on three Post-it-Notes to represent what they considered to be the three most important needs for this person/persona. All Post-it-Notes with dots were then moved up and the others were moved down. This method ensured we focused on the most important needs for each persona.

The final step was to again break into groups and write down what the person was/would be served by — how their needs could be met. So if the need was to “keep on top of digital trends”, for example, that could be served by blogs on digital trends. We focused only on the top needs, the ones that had received dots. This allowed us to focus on the most important aspects of the site to serve our users’ needs.

Each need was mapped to ways to serve that need.

From the workshop, our designer, Adam, created formal persona one-page posters.

  1. Head of digital persona (Sarah)
  2. IT manager persona (Brett)

  3. Director of comms persona (Mary)

  4. Technical talent persona (Dilshan)

Next steps

With the personas complete, our next step is another workshop, this time on user journeys.

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