Personas are a huge part of our project discoveries and are referenced against at every part of our process. Without personas how do you know who to target the UX towards, what tone of voice the content should subscribe to and what conversion points are required to hit your perfect customer?
As part of the process we set out primary, secondary and sometimes even tertiary target audiences. For primary audiences, and some secondary, we’ll then start to detail out key personas of these types of people; what level of detail do they like, are they likely to favour creativity or function (or both), are they typically male or female, their age, their dislikes, their sector affinities, their technical capabilities; we’ll even name them to really bring them to life. It allows us to constantly ask ourselves and our clients, “Does this work for ‘Sally’” or “Would Philip understand that basket layout?”. It refocuses everyone on delivering for the end user and removes personal opinion that might be at odds to the actual customer needs.
Now this is nothing ground-breaking that we’re discussing. This is standard practice for many agencies. We’ve used them for years and are part of our retainer practices too – to constantly evolve and maintain a direct relationship with our clients’ end user.
However, there is one audience that this approach does overlook. Its an outwards approach after all (rightfully so as that’s where the revenue is likely to be). It may even be slightly internally viewed too – helping your sales team manage customers in a more efficient way. The “forgotten one” though is often the website admin team themselves – be that the dedicated digital department, the marketing team, the IT team or whoever manages the website on a day-to-day basis.
By concentrating solely on external audiences, it’s easy to forget that the ongoing management of the website is a daily activity on a large corporate website. Not only in terms of content generation, but in terms of uploading, optimising and managing the content. If digital marketing is being managed in-house (either entirely or in a hybrid approach with the agency) – that’s even more for this audience to do.
Too often the focus is on the creative complexity and function of the front-end as it's “The bit the customer sees”; missing the fact that a news article takes 1 hour to upload, requires 9 different image sizes and content must be formatted to match the fixed template requirements. You also start to have issues around knowledge/resource silos as ‘only Mark knows how to update the site’ and everyone else finds it too complicated.
By focussing on the CMS implementation in the same we focus on the front-end implementation we deliver websites that are much more efficient to use, that clients enjoy using (so use more) and, by those two elements alone, compound effect into an ongoing process that sees the website grow organically and deliver more for the external audiences.
Using (and partnering with) leading enterprise level CMS platforms like Umbraco & Kentico, we can help you deliver a site that isn’t a burden to manage in-house. Simple features such as block/widget-based design over fixed templates, centralisation of shared content (so if a report that’s used on 20 pages is updated, you do it just once), programmatic inter-content relationships and automated image resizing/optimisation really go along way; and that’s just the start of what we can do.
So, when you’re planning your next new site, or even a smaller update to your existing site, continue to think about what your target audiences want of course, but don’t forget to understand from your dev team how you’ll manage it going forwards and what steps they can implement for you to simplify that process.