Website Personas – What Celebrity are you?

If you own a website the chances are you want many visitors to come and care about what you do. You will know the type of person you want to attract and what you’ll like them to do. You will have created some form of branding.. a logo, color scheme and maybe even a slogan.  All tickety boo there…

But does your site have a clear personality and tone?  Have you ever thought of your site as having a personality… and if so does this continue through to your terms and conditions pages, buttons and forms?

If the answer is yes –   respect to you. I certainly can’t hold my hand up on this one. That’s why I was delighted to find a talk called “Designing Engagement” by Jaimee Newberry. In it she mentions how they moved from asking clients the question “Who is my product?” to  “If my product were a celebrity who would it be”

Such a simple, but powerful adjustment.  Incidentally, it won’t be wasted time if you watch the whole talk.  Pure gold !


The problem this solves

The things is, most website owners are still more comfortable with traditional advertising and it’s impersonal tone. After decades of that being the way to go – it’s ingrained. This makes it harder for businesses to adjust their messaging to an internet friendly one. By that I mean finding voice that communicates as a real person would.

Thinking of our websites as living celebrities is a handy shortcut to getting there. It’s so easy for us to wrap our heads around.  OK sure, getting agreement on who that might be may not be a breeze, but when done,  multiple collaborators have a memorable yardstick to measure what they are doing. The conversation alone would probably highlight how close you are to having a shared vision.

Happier working relationships

Also it can reduce friction.  For example, a visual designer will know the site’s aesthetics should appeal to the target audience, but how they will express this will be personal… so will any criticism of it. Using a celebrity persona offers a way to work more objectively and feel less preciously about it. Creativity should be challenged and this can take the sting out of it.

More obviously, it gives the people writing copy a style an easy way to stay consistent.  Consistency, in particular,  is hard to maintain when it comes to the important microcopy like “calls to action” buttons and form headers. With these, the thinking turns to what is the shortest way to encourage an action. Perhaps the answer is continuing the celebrity voice that was in the site header and description?

And what of that terms and conditions page?  Personally I’m not convinced any site needs legal gobbledygook on it, but even if it does there’s no reason why our celebrity persona can not say something like “this is what our lawyers insist we say” and add their own shortened explanation.


Steal a bit of their star quality

Above all things, what I like about this approach is that celebrities are  celebrities because they engage us. Some will be colorful, some serious, but they all resonate and we can steal this quality for our own sites. So long as the celebrity is good match for our target audience, we understand them in context and don’t get too literal –  this could be a great technique to try.

Over to you… Do you think you site is like a particular celebrity?  Do find, like I do, that you switch your tone too much?


I build websites at WP Corner Shop and travel. I also co-host a weekly WordPress podcast called WP Builds and make YouTube videos.

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