One of the best things about living in Seattle is being able to get to know some of the country's greatest online leaders as your neighbors and friends. Tamara Adlin is the founder and principal of adlin, inc., a customer experience consulting company located here in town, and the co-author of The Persona Lifecycle: Keeping People in Mind Throughout Product Design. Before starting her own company, Tamara managed the customer experience team at Amazon Services, creating e-commerce solutions for online and multi-channel retailers. In addition to working with a list of high profile clients, Tamara has led workshops and been invited to speak all over the world on personas and other user-centered design methods. I always love getting together with Tamara; she's the best at what she does and always has practical methods of getting the customer into the center of business strategy and site design.
SM: Lots of retail and e-commerce companies are successfully using personas to drive decisions for both their online and multi-channel experience. For anybody out there who isn't using them or hasn't heard from them, tell us what they are and why they're so valuable.
TA: Sure. Simply put, personas are fake people who represent your key and most important customers. In the best of all cases, they are created with data, and they express customer goals and objectives in the customer's own terms rather than a segment or a role. For example, a segment might be women from 25-54 who use face cream, where a persona might be Henrietta, who is 37 and just starting to recognize her face is changing. Her goal is to figure out a long term plan to solve that problem. A persona is described as a unique person with a goal.