Most people never take the time to truly see their website through their users’ eyes. They focus instead on what they, themselves, think their website should include.
The problem with that is the goal isn’t to improve the self experience of your website; it’s to improve the user experience. When trying to improve the user experience of your website, there’s no getting around the need to consider your users.
A great tool to help you do this is called a “persona.” If you haven’t already created personas for your website, I recommend reading this post first. In it, I walk you through step by step how to create effective personas.
Use Personas to Evaluate Your Website Through Your Users’ Eyes
Once you’ve created personas, you’re ready to walk through your website, looking at it from those persona’s eyes.
To begin, download my persona walk-though guide and print out 2 copies for each persona you have.
Once you have the guide, choose a single one of your personas to focus on first. Take special note of the goals and inhibiting factors (concerns) that persona has.
Once you have those goals and inhibiting factors in mind, think about which page on your website this persona is likely to visit first. This will usually be your homepage, but if you actively drive people to a different page via social media or an ad campaign, you can feel free to focus on that page first.
At the top of the first Walk-Through Guide, write down the name of the persona you’re starting with, as well as the web page you’ll be focusing on first.
Focusing only on the perspective of the one persona you’re considering at this time, begin answering the questions in part 1 of the guide based on what you see on the web page. Take special note of what you see visibly on the screen before you scroll down. Ideally, your persona’s goals and concerns will be addressed here “above the fold.”
Next, learn from your evaluation
After you’ve answered the questions from your persona’s perspective in part 1, roll up your sleeves and dive into part 2. In this section, you brainstorm messages and ideas that would help mitigate or solve any problems you identified in part 1.
While you’re filling out this section, don’t worry too much about whether your ideas will take too much effort to actually implement. You can use a tool like an “effort impact matrix” to help you sort through your options and focus only on the action steps that will serve you best.
Repeat this process for the same persona again on a different web page
Next, turn your attention to whatever page on your website you hope your persona visits next. Use the second Walk-Though Guide you printed out and go through the same process again for this next web page.
Now focus on your next persona
Once you’ve finished up with your first persona, go through the exact same process for your next persona.
After you’ve done this for all your personas, read over your notes. what do you notice about themes that came up? Do all your personas have similar needs and require similar messages? Or are they very different?
What to do if your personas have conflicting needs
If your personas have very different needs from one another then there are a few strategies you can consider.
What To Do If You’re Stuck
Sometimes it helps to have an expert evaluate your website, or to brainstorm improvement ideas with a professional who excels at asking the right questions and visualizing solutions. If your website would benefit from a professional redesign schedule a free consultation..