A user-centered content strategy is a critical component of delivering functional web design. I attended a couple of workshops at Confab this spring to strengthen my process-driven approach to web projects. Scott Kubie’s workshop about user-centered content strategy was about why we need to ‘fall in love’ with our users and map out meaningful journeys across our websites.
Being user-centered drives focus and consistency for our projects. Kubie says setting parameters and priorities about users can help narrow this focus. We need to ask:
- Who are our users?
- What do we know about them?
- How do we represent that knowledge?
If you can easily answer those questions about your users, it’s likely you already have personas developed for your website. You’re off to a good start! If you don’t have personas, or feel it’s time to make them stronger, start by identifying these characteristics:
Research should back your persona development. I can’t stress enough how important it is to talk to actual users who fit your persona descriptions. Here’s more information on each characteristic to craft your persona content.
Start by asking, who are your users? Identity is what you might most associate with the tangible, hard copy of a persona. Give your persona a name and list out their job title and experience level. Draw a low- or high-fidelity portrait. Tell their backstory and include details about their job, situation and what has led them to you. Describe their vocabulary and how they speak. And finally, list their affiliations and brand loyalties.
Establish the mindset by describing how your users think and feel. In this part of the persona, you need to convey moods and feelings from your users. What is their relationship to you and how did they find you? Do they trust your brand? Mindset of users is particularly important at different touchpoints across your site. Understanding your users’ pains and gains will uncover what is most valuable to them at these key events. Carefully craft your content to keep them engaged.
Behaviors are what users will do on your website. The decisions they make will ultimately take them down a path to take an action. These paths are also known as maps. Any actions or events users engage in are called stories. Together, the interactions between maps and stories create journeys. Optimize the user experience for these journeys.
In their simplest form, needs are the top tasks your users are completing while on your site. Needs are driven by motivations, questions and goals. They are the reason users want anything to do with your brand. In your persona, identify the users’ pain points and what they are looking to accomplish. As you do your research, jot down actual quotes from users and use them in your persona documentation.
Using these guidelines will help you refine your persona documentation and deliver a better set of priorities for your content and design. Devoting extra time to this research up front makes your content more effective. Let these ideas be your inspiration to put your users first in your content strategy.