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Fictional Student Personas

Undergraduate students are a diverse audience, comprising many backgrounds, skill levels, and life schemas. They visit websites with a variety of goals and needs. Effectively addressing the various needs of our users presents a significant challenge for those of us developing websites. One way to simplify this process is by creating personas.

What are personas?

Personas are hypothetical, archetypal representations of real users. They present a behavioral model and can be used to help identify the motivations, expectations, and goals that influence online behavior. We use these fictitious personas to describe user characteristics such as age, goals, skills, attitudes, concerns, and behavior patterns that can help guide the decisions we make for our content.

The most effective personas are developed from data that is gathered through interviews and observations of real users. We use this data to develop the goals and behaviors of our persona.

Benefits of using a primary persona when developing web content:

  • Personas can help make the process more personal
    Having a person in mind as content is developed reminds us that there are real people who will be visiting the website. If we can visualize our visitors as such, we are more likely to write in a personal manner that succeeds in addressing the needs of the user. In the case of Undergraduate Education, this would represent your ideal or typical student.
  • Personas can guide us and help us write more clearly
    They can help give us a clearer vision of the needs, problems and questions that readers might have as they respond to our content. We can anticipate those questions as we develop our material.
  • Personas can help identify opportunities
    If we know more clearly what our users are looking for, we become more inspired and creative in our approach to developing our web content.
  • Personas can help identify our true audience
    They can serve to remind us who our true primary audience is. They help us to be more focused and practical in our approach. As an example, we may have lots of experience writing for colleagues in the field, but that same approach may not be entirely effective with a student.
  • Personas help identify ways to connect with our visitors
    They can give us a glimpse into the daily lives, limitations, and desires of our visitors. This can help us to relate and connect more accurately.

 

We have developed three sample personas representing undergraduate students. 

  • A traditional student with an Ag background
  • A DUS student who is a potential candidate for an Agsci major. 
  • A non-traditional student without an Ag background.
Rachael is a typical undergraduate student

Rachael is currently a freshman in Agricultural Science.

Jared is a second year DUS Student

Jared is currently a second year DUS student.

Rebecca represents a non-traditional student

Rebecca is a freshman in the Enviornmental Sciences program. She represents a non-traditional Agsci student who does not have an agriculture background.