Personas – Searchers are Human

Personas, What are They?

It’s very useful to describe in detail who the average person is that searches for your products and services. If  for example your provide desktop information appliances to businesses, than Linda the Corporate Librarian is someone you want to know more about. Why?

  • It helps you focus product development
  • It helps you focus website copy
  • It helps you focus your AdWords and PPC strategy

Linda’s Job

Linda’s job is to provide accurate and appropriate information in a timely manner to her constituents. She is also responsible for training end users in search and information retrieval strategies.

Job Function and Responsibility

LibrarianLinda is the remaining corporate librarian in a computer manufacturing company. Responsibility for the corporate library was recently moved into the IT department. She now reports to the Vice President of Information Technology who is taking heat for the poor state of the company’s information resources.

Linda is responsible for evaluating and choosing content sources for the company. She also has responsibility for these vendor relationships. A major focus for Linda is controlling or reducing acquisition costs for the company’s database sources such as Lexus and Factiva. She also has responsibility for content on the company intranet.

There is a major undertaking initiated by the Vice President of Information Technology to get the company’s expensive, but underutilized information sources deployed in a single application out to individual users. Once a solution has been defined and created she will have responsibility for rolling it out to the desktop.

Skill Set

Linda is skilled in accessing information from a variety of online databases, traditional print sources and from the Internet. She is also very skilled in formulating difficult queries, and is comfortable with complex information. Linda is very good at clarifying reference requests; determining information needs of users. Linda uses e-mail, databases, word processing and spreadsheet software during her normal work day.

Product Usage Models

Linda is a heavy user of e-mail, using it to respond to information request from her constituents. She uses Lexus and Factiva daily. Linda uses the Internet to supplement these primary information resources, but does not completely trust Internet information. She uses Microsoft Access to catalog and manage her content holdings.

Personal Details

Linda, conservative by nature, is 38 years old, married with 2 children in middle school. Her husband is a middle manager in the banking industry. She has a BA in English and a Masters in Library Science. Linda plays for the company softball team, has an interest in yoga and loves cooking. She is active in local environmental politics, and is a volunteer literacy tutor. She belongs to the local chapter of the SLA.


Linda works in a small room that functions as a corporate library where she stores an older collection of print trade journal that are not available digitally. She has a desk and a three-year old computer at the far end and this room is accessible by anyone in the company. Linda is constantly visited by staff with specialized information request.

Political, Business and Social Forces

Call Lexington eBusiness ConsultingLinda works for the head of IT, a man who does not understand library science. She constantly has to educate her boss about content and retrieval issues. In the past she reported to, and mostly dealt with the marketing department. As such, she is unsure of her place within the IT department. This is a new world order and she has not yet digested the implications.  She is functionally oriented, and not really used to strategically thinking about her job. She understands the need to market her expertise internally to senior managers so as to be able to justify continued existence.

Linda currently does not have a lot of peers within the IT department; she is essentially a one-person information consultant, and feels that she does not have enough time to get her job done properly. She was trained to deal with, and has been focusing on external data sources. She struggles to come to terms with the fact that internal company documents are now part of her responsibility, and information appliances are readily available on the desktop.

She realizes that she must improve her productivity to be effective, but has the vague notion that end users easy access to the company’s content is compromising her job. She feels threatened by the changes and especially worries that once users can easily access information, her role in the company will be more uncertain and she will no longer be critical to information retrieval.

A smart vendor, while recognizing that she is not the decision maker, would get Linda invested in both the process and product, and this would assuage her anxiety about her shifting role and make her an inside champion for the widespread deployment of information appliances on the desktop.


With this level of detail about a customer you can think about constructing web-pages (with the appropriate copy) that target her on a number of dimensions. For example:

  • She is an expert researcher with command of the English language – poorly constructed copy will not resonate with her.
  • She understands how search technologies work – she will not construct search queries like the average person will. AdWords is full of queries in the long-tail that she would never use.
  • She anxious about her future – she will be open to PPC ads that offer some clarity for her future.

The combination of understanding what makes a person tick, and consumer search behavior helps focus product development and marketing initiatives. 

Find Out More

“I’ve worked with Mark Sprague on many projects over the years from Green Tech to Pharma BI discovery. He brings solid expertise and experience to the entire website development process. This includes knowledge of UIX, SEO and Content Strategy.”  Lynn Cyr, User Experience Designer.

To find out more about search behavior send me an email at Mark@MSprague.com or call me now at 781-862-3126.

Lexington eBusiness Consulting

About Lexington eBusiness Consulting

Mark Sprague’s 25 years of product development experience, which includes expertise in Search Engines, Information Products, SEO platforms and Social Networking applications provide in-depth expertise to help you refine products and services, and improve your websites performance by:

  • Developing a superior data-driven SEO strategy for your website.
  • Understanding your customers’ search behavior and normalizing it to your content strategy.
  • Understanding how search engine technology practically impacts SEO and content strategies.
  • Understanding how search technology impacts content in a social networking environment.
  • Developing a superior user experience based on sound information architecture, usability and coding standards.

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Lexington eBusiness Consulting

Lexington eBusiness Consulting
Mark Sprague,  CEO
101 Hillside Drive
Swannanoa NC 28778

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