One important concept that many companies overlook is the impact of a great landing page. You’re probably already thinking “this doesn’t apply to my company, my landing page is great.” And you might be right—sort of. While your website’s landing page may have all of the right components, and you may think that it’s great, you might be losing sight of the basics. Every person who visits your site will have their own unique personality, temperament, and cognitive style and you should incorporate all of these elements when considering landing page optimization. These fundamentals are referred to as personas, cognitive styles and roles. Often, these three things are used interchangeably, but you should know that there are major differences between the three. Tim Ash from SiteTuners.com uses some of the following descriptions to help businesses better grasp consumer needs:
Roles correspond to specific classes of visitors interacting with your site. They are defined by their relationship to your website and call-to-action. The role breakdown can be basic, or it might need to be slightly more nuanced depending on your circumstances. Examples include: a Dating service Prospective member (has not signed up yet), a new member (has paid but has not set up a complete personal profile), and an experienced member (has done multiple searches and contacted other members).
A persona is typically a made-up prototype of a person that is used to represent important classes of potential users of a product or service. They are imagined in great detail (behaviors, workplace, activities, belief systems, etc.) in order to form a more concrete image. The design or use of the product or service is then compared to the persona’s needs to determine if there is a good fit. Roles are different than personas — in one sense they are more changeable since they depend on the specific relationship with a website. A persona is usually treated as a monolithic person with a fully-formed personality that does not change. In fact, most people play many different roles in their daily life. In each role their competencies, mental frameworks and attitudes can shift dramatically. For example, a person might be an excellent ballet dancer. While on stage, they may thrive in the spotlight and feel confident in their movements and roles. However, later on at school when that same person has to make a speech in front of the class, they may find themselves unsure, self-conscious and introverted. So, even though they are the same person (and would presumably still be represented by the same persona), they behave completely differently in their roles as a dancer and a public speaker.
Personas are also often confused with cognitive styles. There are many psychological frameworks that divide people into different temperaments. This has been done at least since the Middle Ages — the four “humors” or “temperaments” were called Sanguine, Choleric, Melancholic and Phlegmatic, and corresponded to emotional makeup as well as physical constitution of an individual. Other explanations include Intuitive, Sensorial, Rational and Emotional.
The main point of these systems is that your cognitive style is part of your basic makeup and is unlikely to change. It is basically how your brain operates and how you take in and deal with information about the world. In the context of landing pages, you should try to accommodate all major cognitive styles since they are all represented in the population. For example, your pages should be uncluttered for the short-attention-span crowd, but also include links to very detailed supporting information for the methodical types.
In the next series we will discuss landing page optimization tactics for consumers of all types.