Traditional marketing splits audiences into demographics (age, gender, income) so that messages are more likely to resonate with the individual who reads it. Without a pile of cash for market research and focus groups, it is much easier to break your audience into groups and create focused, targeted campaigns rather than trying appeal to ‘everyone.’ This concept also applies to product and interface design.
User Centered Design breaks website visitors into user groups or personas, that represent the different needs of real people who will be going to your site. Group definitions are generally broad and unique personas should only be created when widely different needs are being met.
If your company sells wholesale salsa, user groups might include Manufacturers, Distributors, Vendors and Retail Customers. While there is some overlap in common functionality, these different types of users will also need sets of features that are unique to each group.
Anticipating User Needs
Once the different groups have been determined, sets of features and functionality can then be listed for each. Based on the Retail Customer and Vendor groups above, our list might look something this:
- Register and manage their account – contact person, address, billing info etc.
- Order products through the site
- Check order/shipping status
- Sign up for a consumer focused newsletter or ‘like’ you on Facebook to receive discounts and special offers
- Save products to a wish list that they can view later or send to friends
- Add wrapping paper, a greeting card and any other items to personalize a gift
- Order larger volumes of products at wholesale price
- Submit purchase orders
- View and pay invoices
- Sign up for a ‘vendors only’ mailing list that focuses on new product announcements, price drops or monthly specials
User Centered Design is its own discipline, but all it really means is thinking about the actual person using your site, product or service and trying to meet their needs as best as possible. Our approach will help you separate out the needs of different groups and make a list of features that address specific needs. This method also helps increase conversions by making it as easy as possible for them to complete the tasks they need to. The user also has a more positive experience with your site and brand. Happy customers lead to repeat sales, more referrals and a higher willingness to share with friends on social networks!