My Design Personas

Design personas are the darlings of the web site design community. Knowing what “Julie” would want, or how’d “she” react to a certain design feature or function is certainly valuable.

What I don’t get is why site designers need to spend so much time and effort to define the personas.

First of all, if marketing is doing its job, it has already defined customer segments that the firm is targeting. Those segments, if defined correctly, should identify different types of customers/prospects, their buying and servicing needs, and other demographic and behavioral characteristics.

But those segments are usually little help in making site design decisions.

I still don’t see why it should take weeks (if not months) and $50k to define personas (with all the obssession on ROI, what’s the ROI of that $50k?). I’ve got design personas that I write for on this blog, and I think it took me all of about 30 minutes to come up with them. There’s:

  • Jaffray Piper. Jaffray represents the marketing consultants out there. Highly analytical, if there’s a flaw in my logic, Jaffray will drive a truck through it.
  • Davis Garbanzo. Davis is the practitioner, representing  marketers with a quantitative/analytical marketing bent. If what I write doesn’t represent the reality of the day-to-day goings-on in the marketing trenches, Davis will let me know.
  • Maurice Perdue. Maurice represents the social media supporters out there. He’s passionate about the impact that social media is having — and could have — on marketing. I often write stuff knowing (or hoping) that I’ll tick Maurice off with some comment about the realities (versus hype) of social media.

As I’m writing, I’m constantly thinking “what will Jaffray/Davis/Maurice think about this, and how will they respond?”

Coming up with personas isn’t rocket science. It simply comes down to this: Know your audience.

What is tricky (for bloggers, site designers, and marketers), is that there’s: 1) the audience you have, and 2) the audience you want. Which one do you write for/market to/design for?

If marketing is doing its job, the choice isn’t just easy, but there’s no choice to make in the first place.

By the way, any resemblance between the personas I described above and any real person, alive or dead, is purely coincidental. And if you read this blog, and don’t see a one-to-one match between yourself and one of these personas, it’s probably because your interests cut across the personas. Either that, or I just don’t know the audience.

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