Understanding Audiences

We need to understand our audiences so we can cater to their needs.

Understand the Website User's Frame of Mind


Personas are fictional representations of website audiences. They help us to keep our site users in mind and guide the discussion around content creation.

The Idea:

Personas help guide us in the right general direction. They are not law and they are not perfect, but they are a representative we can rely on to help gut check decisions. They help put us in the mindset of our target audiences.

How to Create Personas:

  1. Think about your typical website user.
    • Who are they?
    • How old are they?
    • What are their wants, needs, fears, and goals?
  2. Dream up a character to represent each of your audiences. Give each character a name.
  3. Decide how old your character is, where they live, what they do, and what their interests are.
  4. For each character, think through and articulate their wants, needs, fears, and goals.
  5. Adapt the mindset of the character you created to inform the type of content you provide.
    • For example, if a fear is not getting a job after graduation, address career opportunities.

How Do We Put Ourselves in the End-user's Shoes?

Questions to Consider When Creating Personas, and When Crafting or Reviewing Content:

  • What Persona Am I Writing For?

    • See above for how to create a persona.
    • Put pen to paper and write down each of your personas to refer to as you create content.
  • What is this Site Visitor's Current Mindset or Scenario?

    • Why is this site visitor looking at your website?
      • Be sure to answer their most pressing questions.
    • What is this site visitor's primary motivation?
      • Provide content that addresses their goals.
  • Who or What Influences Their Decisions?

    • Other university websites? Third-party ranking websites?
      • If so, review other websites to see what messages they send. Address the same issues, answer anything that's left out, correct inaccurate representations.
    • Parents, family, friends, or teachers? Business associates or competitors?
      • If so, write to those audiences as a secondary audience. Be sure to address the concerns of influencers.
  • What Goals Does this Site Visitor Have?

    • Whatever their goals may be, include information about how your offering can help them reach their goals.
    • Want to attend school close to home, but not too close?
      • Talk about location, talk about value, talk about the Mankato area.
    • Want to go back to school to complete a degree as a working adult?
      • Talk about flexibility, multiple locations, and online options.
    • Want to find the best school for son or daughter without breaking the bank?
      • Talk about cost and value.
  • What Information Does this Site Visitor Need in Order to Reach Their Goals?

    • What fears does this site visitor have?
      • Do they fear not getting a job after graduation?
      • Is the cost of education a pain point?
    • How can we address their fears?