E-commerce Link: Personalized Content Primer: How to Make the Most of the Dynamic Web
There is an increasing amount of buzz circulating about Web personalization these days. Many organizations embarking on significant site redesigns are considering it. But what is personalization exactly? How does it work? Does it make sense for all organizations?
For years, user experience specialists have advocated the practice of designing online experiences with both a company's goals and a user's needs in mind. Though well-intentioned, this approach generally grouped site visitors together, assuming they had similar needs, exhibited the same behaviors and were looking for the same information. Because users are a mix of people with different characteristics and different goals, a personalized site can allow for pitch perfect and relevant dialog with users as individuals, rather than as a static group.
At its core, a personalized Web experience is one where site content (headlines, imagery, calls to action, featured products, etc.) is displayed based on the characteristics of who an individual is believed to be. By surfacing content that is purposefully targeted, organizations can deliver a dynamic sales pitch, cut through irrelevant noise and chatter, improve online user experiences, and ultimately see a lift in conversions.
If your organization targets more than one key audience segment, or your website exists to drive a specific behavior (for example sharing, registration or purchase), personalization may be a compelling strategy.
Designing a personalized Web experience requires a similar project cadence to more traditional Web development engagements. Phases include some variation of discovery, planning, design rollout, development and optimization. It is a change in specific design tasks and technologies inside this larger project framework that allows for the successful implementation of a personalized experience.
The first evident shift from the norm is the absolute necessity of the hotly contested persona document. In traditional projects, if personas are developed, they're created for each key user group. These personas are designed to give project stakeholders an understanding of users' motivations and objectives. The deliverable is sometimes criticized as a less than scientific exercise in creative writing.