In interaction design, designers are taught to create layouts, campaigns and experiences based on the behaviors, needs and expectations of users to help accomplish their goals. Goals will vary based on each website or application, but in e-commerce the main goal is the shopping experience: helping the consumer we want to target get to the products they are looking for and ultimately purchasing. If we design our experiences to focus more on the consumer, thus being user-centric, then conversion will increase because we are tending to their exact behaviors and needs.

This task may seem daunting, especially with a new venture, but the good news is that you can constantly make changes to help your consumer complete tasks over time. It is especially important to keep this concept in mind when adding new features to your website. There are plenty of resources available online for further reading or to share within your organization, especially your designers. But I want to help keep it simple and provide some important user experience tips to keep in mind on a higher level.

Focus on your target customer

We want to categorize these consumers into personas. Choose only the top three-to-seven types of customers for your personas because we don’t want to design for everybody, we just want to design for our exact targets. For each persona, identify things like: demographics, their comfort level in technology, their needs, what they enjoy, why they would be on your site, etc. Try writing a paragraph about them, giving them an age, name, career, photo and story. List who are they, why are they interested in your company, what are they looking for, etc. Ideally, you will be using the research you have already done to categorize your target market but to make them into a persona you will need to really simplify the amount of different users within that market and add a background history to each of them.

If your target market covers a large audience it would be wise to create a persona for each side in that spectrum. For example, if there is a large array of these in your market then you will want to identify with at least two in each category instead of one: age, career, comfort with technology, disposable income, etc.  Let’s say Sally and Susan are both millennial females with similar interests and habits, but if one makes a drastically different income than the other, then they should be separated because as you know, that will effect what they buy from you, what they may be looking for, the time frame they may purchase in, and so on.

Identify your top scenarios you want to focus on

This would be similar in both new or current sites. Things like using your site’s search for ‘blue suede shoes’, adding and retrieving a wishlist, or using your checkout to purchase. For each scenario, focus on how each persona would successfully complete the task. Try going through the scenario saying things like, “Sally landed on the homepage from a Google search and will immediately be looking for a product or image of blue suede shoes.” The exercise is to place yourself in their shoes and imagine how they would use your site.

Then try to design the scenario, or redesign parts, for the majority of your personas for that scenario, using bits and pieces from how each user would behave within the design. Small example: An older persona may not share their recent purchases through social media. A younger persona you have may love sharing. If it is not at all important to you, you may not want to include it  into the design since the younger persona probably knows how to share on their own anyway. But if it is important, include it into the design prominently but make sure the sharing functionality does not get in the way or confuse your older persona. The goal with identifying with all your personas is to try to accommodate all of them without focusing on any noise, on any other type of consumer who may not convert.

Additional tips to keep in mind

  • Sometimes a scenario will be more specific, such as using a landing page featuring ‘blue suede shoes’. Try keeping your personas in mind to help design these landing pages or campaigns.
  • Try going more high-level as well, try mapping out a persona’s journey from start to finish. Even each persona’s starting position can vary and that may change the way you design certain pages.
  • Constantly upgrade, it’s great to change a current design to accommodate some small changes to help your personas. Small changes go a long way and you can always test out the changes on your current audience before committing.  Taking it one step further, try finding a real-life equivalent to your persona and get feedback, test and revise.
  • Once you get started with this methodology, you’ll find it becomes a seamless way of discussing your target audience with all teams in your business. It’ll help keep focus on what is important as well, again, trying to reduce noise in general. Also, it’s much easier to say and empathize with a ‘Sally’ during a meeting, isn’t it?
It’s a simple idea, that personifying your users will make it easier to discuss, monitor and identify with them to help designs convert better. Not only will this help focus your designs to accomplish their goals but surely will help ease conversations in your team when discussing your audience. You may find that doing the exercise of identifying your personas alone will help clear up some confusion in your team as well. ‘Sally’ requested some more information so I will definitely be writing more about targeting to increase conversions in the near future. If you have any questions or requests, please feel free to contact me!

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