When creating a website sitemap, we're often asked the question "Should we have persona/audience-based pages in our navigation?"
Whilst it might seem beneficial to have a page relating to each of your personas, talking about the solutions for their sector, like:
Research has shown this often isn't the case.
In this episode of Websites Decoded, Phil explores why audience-based content often performs poorly and should be avoided.
Whenever you're doing your website, building a new website, you've got a limited resource, limited budget and so you've got to choose what to spend that available budget on.
The more content you create, the more sections within your website, the thinner that budget is going to be spread. So it makes sense to prioritise and to choose wisely where you invest.
Research has shown that there are some types of content that are very often prioritised in new website projects, very often attractive to the stakeholders, but that buyers simply don't look for, navigate to or engage with in high volume.
And therefore, spending your limited budget in creating that content up front at the beginning of your new website project is meaning you got less to spend on the pages that buyers are actually navigating to.
And the number one type of content that buyers won't typically seek out is content that's around their industry or around their role and persona.
So a trend a little while ago, when more and more businesses became familiar with the concept of personas and how useful they were in shaping their content strategy, the idea quickly came up to have a section on your website for each different persona.
So, put a page that's aimed at:
- the IT manager
- the procurement manager
- the finance manager
- and so on
In the hopes that people would see that, visit that page, read about all about why this solution is perfect for that type of buyer.
However, visitors are not on websites to learn about themselves. They're not on websites to read information about their role or even their industry. They know that they come with that knowledge.
They're looking for information about you, your solution, your product, your offering.
So spending your limited website budget on creating sections and pages on sectors, verticals, industries, customer types or roles often isn't as effective as we would hope.
Now, I'm not one to say that you should never build that content out, but I would urge people to deprioritise it and tackle it later.
And first focus on getting the information that is critical to purchase, getting it right, presenting it clearly and working out the customer journey through that content and only come back and develop sectors, verticals, industries and so on if the budget remains once all the other critical content is live and working for you.
I often praise Nielsen Norman Group for the research they've done on UX, and on this point in particular, they have a great piece of information about the ineffectiveness of the sector based or vertical based content on websites.
No matter how much we may try to make those pages useful to people in those sectors, the impression is that they are pages about those sectors and therefore they don't get the attention and they don't get the engagement that we would want.
And they're relatively ineffective compared to other types of content you could prioritise.