We often have clients who come to us asking what they can do to bring more traffic to their website. While we’re really good at developing an SEO strategy to help with that, it’s just as important to have a website that converts well.
That’s why any conversation about a website redesign or optimization should also include a discussion about website personas. Here’s what I like to share about why website personas are important and how you should be using them to drive sales.
What are website personas?
You’re probably familiar with buyer personas, or fictional representations of your ideal customers. Website personas are essentially an abbreviated version of your buyer personas. If you’ve done buyer persona research, you may have a lot of documentation about your ideal customers, including:
- Job titles and responsibilities
- Stated goals
- Internal motivations
- Pain points
- Who they trust
- Where they search for information
- What specific terms they search
- Barriers to purchasing
All these details are valuable as you consider your overall marketing strategy, especially when it comes to what type of content you create and what channels you invest in. As you map out website personas, however, you’ll be focusing less on some of this information and more on how your website informs the decision-making process. That might include:
- How they will identify their needs from your homepage
- What other pages will be important to their journey
- What conversion points will be critical, such as chatbots, video demos or resource landing pages
- Frequently asked questions about your products or services
Here’s one example of a website persona. Like a buyer persona, it starts with a fictional story based on conversations with real individuals and any data you may have from previous interactions. That might include what products or services they use most often or what resources they viewed prior to requesting a demo.
[Free guide] How to get the website design you really want
What are the benefits of website persona research?
In a world of distractions, taking the time to develop website personas can help your brand stay focused on the right things. Instead of developing a website that’s too broad and doesn’t resonate with anyone, you’ll have a website that is specific to the needs of your target audience.
This has many benefits, including:
Better search engine optimization (SEO)
You can build the world’s most beautiful website, but if it’s not well-optimized for search, no one will know it’s there.
SEO-friendly website design starts by understanding your ideal customers and how they search. Some of these insights may come from interviews or informal conversations you have with customers; others come from keyword research tools like Semrush. As you conduct keyword research, you’re looking for monthly search volume of certain terms and how difficult it may be to rank for them based on what has already been published.
This is a balancing act. You want to cast a wide net of people who may be looking for solutions to a specific problem they have, but not so wide a net that you’re drawing irrelevant traffic.
One example might be a technology provider designed to improve patient engagement.
‘Patient engagement’ is a broad term with over 1,600 monthly searches. It’s directly related to what the provider does, so it’s good to include that term right on the homepage and throughout the website. However, it’s also tricky to rank for that term because there’s so much competition. That’s why it’s a good idea to include website pages that focus on other long-tail keywords that address more specific questions, such as ‘patient engagement strategies’ or ‘how patient portals improve patient engagement.’
You should also incorporate keywords your website personas would likely search when they are comparing their options; in this case, terms such as ‘patient engagement technology’ or ‘patient engagement software vendors.’
Knowing what information matters most to your website personas helps you organize your site accordingly. This was especially challenging for Saint Leo University, a private college in Florida with a brick-and-mortar campus as well as a robust online learning program that serves a significant portion of its student body. When we first started working with them, they had two separate websites — one tailored to online learning, and one that focused on its more conventional on-campus experience.
Even before the pandemic, the distinction between the two realms had become increasingly blurred, and it no longer made sense to have them as separate entities. Many of its students are non-traditional learners who need the flexibility to take courses on their own time, but also want a place to connect in person to receive additional support. Instead of taking classes exclusively in person or online, they look for a mix of the two.
After conducting website persona research, we knew most students would search for their degree program before looking at anything else on the website, so we incorporated on-site search functionality to make this easier. We also made it easy for them to see their options, including online learning, education centers and a World Campus with degree programs in Spanish and for English-speaking students in India.
The result is a more unified, user-friendly website that helped Saint Leo exceed its enrollment goals.
Research shows most people will leave a website within seconds if they don’t see something that interests them. That makes clear website navigation essential, but it also underscores the importance of a strong value proposition.
Your homepage should make it immediately obvious how you solve their problem, what sets you apart and why they should choose you — in other words, what’s in it for them.
In the Saint Leo example, the value proposition is “Learning that fits your life.” This speaks to the convenience and flexibility of the university’s online and in-person offerings.
Better website conversion rates
Ultimately, a persona-based website results in better conversions. When messaging and site layout are designed with theoretical personas in mind, actual visitors are more likely to schedule a demo or a consultation and become paying customers. With clear navigation and enticing calls to action, they can find what they need with minimal effort.
Other factors that improve website conversions include:
- Improving page load speed
- Customizing calls to action (CTAs) based on what you know about the buyer and their previous actions (in HubSpot, you can manage this using smart content)
- Testing different variables, such as CTA placement and language
- Conducting usability studies to monitor how users interact with your website and where they may be dropping off
What is Kuno’s website persona process?
Developing a strategic website doesn’t happen in a silo. Our website design process is highly collaborative, placing you and your goals at the center of our efforts. Here’s what you can expect when you partner with Kuno.
Website persona discovery
We start by gathering as much information as we can about your company, your market and your customers. That includes:
- Conducting interviews with your customers and key stakeholders
- Analyzing current site performance, including speed, design functionality, SEO and your technical sitemap
- Performing a basic content audit to understand what resources you have and which ones are most popular
- Conducting keyword research to identify terms to include on your website
- Sharing our findings with your team, gathering feedback and ensuring alignment
Mapping user journeys
Website user journey mapping sets the foundation for your website. This involves identifying key pages that will be important to each persona at respective stages throughout their journey, including the attraction and awareness stages, consideration and evaluation, and the final decision stage. We also consider opportunities to delight existing customers and turn them into brand advocates through referral programs, reviews and more.
This stage of the process typically includes:
- Developing a sitemap
- Determining the most likely paths each website persona may take
- Identifying the strongest calls to action for each
- Creating a wireframe to represent the basic layout of navigation, page structure and content using a mobile-first strategy
Developing website content
People often ask which comes first — website content or design. Ideally, the content should shape the design of your website, not the other way around. Our team of brand journalists works with you to determine what website messaging you need to appeal to each persona on an emotional level and compel them to take the next step in the buyer’s journey.
Content development includes:
- Determining which website pages deliver the most value in the user journey
- Developing content outlines for those pages
- Having further conversations with your team as needed
- Writing SEO-optimized page content, including copy, page titles and meta descriptions
Writing website copy that aligns with your personas is also a collaborative effort. You may have an in-house writer who handles the first drafts of these pages and passes them to our team for review and optimization, or you might look to our team to write the first drafts while you review and approve them.
Creating website design that incorporates your personas
This last stage is the most exciting because you’ll see your new website come to life with your brand’s colors, imagery, graphics and any media you may have incorporated. Video can be a great way to engage your audience from the moment they arrive at your site, showcasing your company mission and values and further explaining your products and services.
During this process, our team:
- Reviews your brand guidelines or develops new ones if you need rebranding
- Tells your story in a visual way while establishing your website personas as the hero and your company as a guide to help them overcome challenges
- Gathers customer logos and testimonials to add credibility
- Designs templates for your homepage, products and services pages, blog and resource page and other essential pages
- Consider the user interface, or how different elements of your website will function
Develop, test and launch your website
We are experts in using HubSpot and WordPress to develop high-performing websites. Our SEO experts also use on-page, technical SEO best practices to give your website the best possible chance of ranking with search engines.
During this process, we:
- Develop designed webpages on a content management system (CMS) platform, including HubSpot or WordPress
- Use optimization software to test designed templates for use on various mobile devices
- Apply technical SEO recommendations
- Apply web content your team or the Kuno Creative team has created to each page
- Conduct a quality assurance process where our team reviews your site’s functionality and copy edits for clarity and grammar
Monitor how users engage with your website and fine-tune it
Your website is a dynamic destination that should evolve as you learn more about how your visitors interact with it. That’s why our website design projects are often part of a longer, ongoing service agreement. After your website has launched, we:
- Monitor and review data to find ways to help reach defined goals
- Use Semrush and HubSpot for analytics and reporting
- Share data-informed content and campaign recommendations
- Provide ongoing domain/keyword analytics review and updates
- Make recommendations for paid digital advertising and organic social media
- Continuously monitor your competitors to determine new keyword ranking opportunities
- Implement on-page SEO improvements
- Conduct usability testing to see how users are navigating your website
- Perform backlink analysis and disavow toxic links
- Make recommendations to improve marketing automation
- Meet regularly to discuss performance and strategy
Hiring a team of experts in each of these areas could easily consume your entire marketing budget. Working with a digital marketing agency like Kuno represents a more cost-effective approach, allowing you to be more agile with your website design.
Explore some of our favorite website design examples and contact us to schedule a consultation.