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Getting Them There & Keeping Them There – Wednesday, November 10

Using business-driven personas to create holistic search and experience strategies

Tamara Adlin Vanessa Fox

Tamara Adlin / Vanessa Fox
Tamara is the founder of adlin inc. and author of The Persona Lifecycle and The Essential Persona Lifecycle / Vanessa is the founder of Nine by Blue and author of Marketing in the Age of Google: Your Online Strategy IS Your Business Strategy

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What’s the breakdown of the day?

Morning: Business-driven Personas

You know about SEO. You’ve likely heard of (or even used) personas before. But combining them? That’s new.

Vanessa and Tamara jump right in with this inspirational new approach to solving one of the web’s most difficult problems—managing how people get to all that great stuff you’re putting on the site.

You’ll roll up your sleeves and get to work. They’ll show you how to create measurable goals from your organization’s brand objectives, value propositions, and key product and service differentiators. Don’t know what those are? No worries. Tamara has a great technique to assist your stakeholders in helping you discover them.

Next, you’ll create business–driven personas that are aligned with your measurable goals. These personas will form the foundation of your optimization and design efforts. You'll learn how to validate your personas, ensuring they match what real customers want, not some echo-chamber notion of a customer that doesn’t really exist.

Tamara has great tricks for prioritizing your personas, based on your executives’ views of the most important business objectives. You’ll end up with a prioritized set of personas and a list of feature ideas and all before lunch.

Afternoon: Search & Experience Strategy

Armed with your personas, you’ll return from lunch ready to jump into your search optimization strategy.

Vanessa will walk you through the steps for creating an SEO plan. Starting with the highest priority personas, you’ll explore the likely usage scenarios, generating a list of critical search topics.

From each search topic, you’ll extract out the likely search keywords. Vanessa will show you how to cluster these keywords by using a method of matching the business goals directly to the search terms, emphasized by each persona. This gives you a measurable tool to budget your optimization efforts.

With those very same personas, Tamara will show you how to formulate your user experience strategy. Using her marvelous technique called a design map, you'll see how to match up the persona’s needs with specific design features.

With your prioritized list of personas to help, you’ll understand which pathways on the site are most important. You’ll see exactly what the navigation needs to say and how it’ll match up with the search keywords your users are already thinking of.

In the end, you’ll have a clear process to generate solid, measurable, data-driven results—the kind of results you can take back to your management to show them exactly what you’ve done and how you did it. How cool is that?

Does your team face these problems?

  • As a UX professional, SEO feels foreign and mysterious.
  • Too often, your organization’s search engine optimization process seems like it’s at war with your site navigation and content efforts.
  • You’re the only person in your organization working on SEO and user experience, and it feels like too much to do both.
  • Your organization has separate SEO and UX, and they don’t work together.
  • Executive guidance on priorities is too infrequent and regularly changes direction

Why use personas for a holistic experience?

Our users don’t separate out their search from their use of our site. They don’t think these are two separate activities. For our users, everything just flows starting with the moment they think their search keyword until they get what they needed. It’s one holistic experience.

Connect the dots for your users, as you create a soup-to-nuts experience that works.

Yet, in most organizations, we separate these things out. Often, one group is responsible for our search optimization efforts, while another group worries about the site’s navigation and content organization. When divided this way, the two groups rarely work together and often find themselves in conflict.

Even when you’re the team of one, handling the entire thing, it’s tempting to separate out the optimization of search from designing the site’s navigation. The result is a less-than-ideal experience for your user and reduced performance for your business objectives.

Vanessa and Tamara will show you how to connect the dots, using a fabulous tool: Personas. Personas move you past discrete thinking, where you switch between search optimization and site navigation, to working on a holistic approach. By following your users through their entire experience, you end up with a design that gets them there and keeps them there.

How will persona-driven search and experience design change your future?

Optimizing for search doesn’t need to feel like a dark art. Sure, there are gazillions of techniques that ensure the best rankings and placements, but in the end, it’s all about helping our users find what they seek.

Using data and business objectives to drive your design? You bet!

Their journey doesn’t end once they click on the search engine result. Our site has to have the right information in the right places to deliver a delightful experience. This doesn’t happen by accident. Careful design is the secret.

Tamara and Vanessa will bring you mad skills for tackling both the search optimization and the experience design, guaranteed to make your users happy. Their persona-based approach focuses on the entire journey, as you prototype users’ work to complete their objectives on your site.

Yet what really makes the persona-approach work is its solid research basis. This makes it easy to explain your decisions to your stakeholders and executives, while providing solid methods for measuring the success of your work. Imagine how exciting it’ll be when you have real data to show how effective your site’s design is.

What makes this workshop exciting?

One word sums it all up: clarity. Clear objectives, clear techniques, clear direction, clear methods, clear measurements, clear results, clear success, and clear value. Yup, it’s all about clarity.

“All of a sudden, it just makes sense.”

Tamara’s ad-hoc persona technique is such a simple way of extracting clear objectives from the senior stakeholders and executives, you’ll wonder why you’ve never done it before. There’s nothing like clear marching orders to make things happen.

Vanessa will use her experience from working at Google to clear up all the fog that surrounds search engine optimization. While there are many pieces to successful SEO, none of them are difficult. You’ll know what you need to do and when you need to do it.

Together, they’ll show you how to translate a strategy into action, measure the results, and demonstrate success. You’ll end up with a rich toolbox that simplifies your process, giving you more room to get to those hard-to-reach activities you’ve always wanted to tackle.

Why did we pick Tamara and Vanessa?

Separately, Tamara and Vanessa both rock. Together, they become a powerhouse. They are both incredibly smart, have a ton of experience, and know how to make things happen. That’s exactly what you want when merging SEO with experience design.

Two experts. Two perspectives. One integrated workshop, creates one amazing experience.

In our minds, Tamara is the high priestess of persona development. She’s co-written two books on the subject, The Persona Lifecycle and The Essential Persona Lifecycle, both of which are must haves for your development library. Her sharp wit and entertaining style make her a delight to listen to.

Vanessa wrote the book on online search strategy. No, seriously, the book is Marketing in the Age of Google: Your Online Strategy IS Your Business Strategy and she wrote it. Vanessa was the brains behind Google’s portal for webmasters, Google Webmaster Central, and understands how to build an optimization strategy at a level that we can only dream of. You’ll be hanging on her every word.

Having these two present this workshop together is a special treat. This doesn’t happen every day and you don’t want to miss it.

What’s the next step?

If Tamara and Vanessa’s workshop isn’t quite what you’re looking for, explore the other 7 workshops. There’s also a whole day of Featured Talks with all the UI15 experts.