A Focused Approach to Website Design Using Personas

It’s easy to create a website with the goals of your organization in mind. Where you want images placed, how you want to phrase things, and how you want to layout the site. However, are you presenting your organizational goals in a way that resonates with your user? If you don’t know the answer to that question (or if the answer is no), then you’re probably designing your website with the wrong approach. Insert, personas. In the article below, we’ll walk you through the process we use and help you see why personas really help create a site that resonates with your user’s needs.

Using personas to design from the outside in

Here at Yoko Co, the process begins by taking the time to analyze the behavior of each member of your target audience and use the information gathered to create a site map and architecture that focuses on each individual’s unique user journey.

Step 1: Identify your personas

First, we brainstorm who the personas are. Personas, as we define them, are the aspects of character traits that describe each member of your audience. For that, think of every possible person who will be visiting your website.

As an example, let’s say you’re designing a website for your local running store. It might be easy to conclude that your website is designed to sell gear to runners. Using personas urges you to dig even deeper. In the list below, we’ve identified many different types of runners who might access this website. In addition to that, we’ve identified a few other people who aren’t necessarily just runners that would also be interested in your shop.

Mapping out your organization’s personas in this level of detail helps to layout a solid framework of website architecture. This allows you to present your organizational goals in a way that resonates with each member of your audience.

Running store persona examples:

  • elite/professional runner
  • college runner
  • high school runner
  • marathon runner
  • 5k/10k/half marathon enthusiasts
  • sprinters
  • distance runner
  • casual runner
  • parents of a high school runner
  • fitness enthusiasts
  • people interested in weight loss
  • tri-athletes
  • other athletes who run to train
  • prospective employees

Step 2: Define your personas

In Step 1, we’ve identified all the different characters or personas who might come to your website. In the next stage of the process, we focus on defining the characteristics that make each of these personas unique.

To do this, we answer a series of questions that speak to the psychographics and demographics of each persona. These questions help us answer:

  • Who are they?
  • Where do they go for information?
  • What problems do you help them solve?

By identifying these traits, you start to understand the different character traits of your audience. As a result, you can start to think about the way they might interact with your website. You can also begin to architect your site in a way that makes sense to your audience.

Step 3: What questions are your personas asking?

Now, think back to the running store example. Let’s say the marathon runner comes to your website. What questions might they ask? Here are a few ideas that might come to mind:

  • What type of shoes should I buy?
  • What nutrients are right for me?
  • Are there certain shirts or shorts that are better for marathon running?
  • What gloves should I buy to stay warm during my long run?
  • Does your running store sponsor any races?
  • Do you offer marathon coaching?
  • What do your salespeople know about marathon running?

As we begin to assemble these questions, we start to ask ourselves, “Where might these questions best be answered on the website?” Maybe it falls into staff, about, services, or in this case, a shoes page. By going through this exercise, we can start to craft sections of a site map in a way that better answers each individual user’s questions. As a result, you’re setting yourself up for creating an architecture that resonates with the needs of each member of your target audience.


These are just the first steps in using personas to create user focused web design. If you’re interested in learning more about our process, get in touch with us. We’d love to learn more about your personas and the character traits that make your organization special.

Ready to learn more?

If you’d like to learn more about what good UX can do for you, check out this article!

What's the ROI of Good UX?

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