Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Who is Your Audience: Using Personas to Focus Your Writing

I spent last week in New York City at a convention for internet marketers. It was an interesting experience, and I brought a lot of ideas away from it.

One of them involved the use of personas in developing the concept of a site. I've looked at these hypothetical audience members and what they might mean to the development of a site before. But, during a discussion on "Converting Visitors to Buyers," it struck me that personas could be just as useful for people who write sites that are purely informational in nature.

And that they might be useful for people who contribute to blogs.

So I poked around the web a little earlier tonight, and came across an excellent article on using personas to help writers of sites that focus upon providing news and stories and data and opinions to people. This one, Personas: Setting the Stage for Building Usable Information Sites, from Alison J. Head (with Kim Goodwin) described something close to what I was looking for.

On the drive home tonight, through purely unscientific means, I decided that four personas would probably be a good match for this site.

One would be fresh out of high school, possibly male, filled with the uncertain future of trying to face fending for himself, and possibly trying to start his own business - someday.

A second would be in the last year of college, looking at internships, graduate school, or other possibilities available to her, while at the same time trying to figure out how to pay back student loans.

A third would be a stay-at-home mother, trying to start an internet based business, learning about all of the things that one needs to know along the way, while caring for children, and being somewhat limited in what she can or can't do.

The fourth would be someone who had a successful career, and for one reason or another, left it and is trying to make it as a contractor or consultant. He's been divorced a couple of times, and also has some interests outside of work competing for his time and ability to focus solely upon his new chosen profession.

I'm going to attempt to flesh out these personas over the next few days and weeks, and link to them from the sidebar.

Once I've completed that task, I will attempt to focus my writings here to those four, and see if those fictional characters can benefit from what I write.

It might help knowing who it is that I'm writing for, when I publish these posts. Will it make a difference not focusing upon a general audience, but rather specific people with their own personalities and interests? It's worth trying.

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