Preparing for a Building Engagement with WordPress workshop this week, has got me thinking about visitor psychology and content.

For you if you can’t be there – or if you are and want a recap – here’s a summary of main points:

Your Visitors Have Come To DO…

Unlike traditional media, which is more passive, we are online to DO things: search, browse, compare, curate, and learn stuff. If what we offer is static and fixed, there is a mismatch between our offer and what our visitors want. An amazing number of enterprises seem still to have web content up in which nothing happens. Nothing will, either.

Generally, human beings love to make sense of things and we do this mostly through pattern detection and story. Visiting a blog or website is an exercise in both: we ask ‘Does this site match what I recognize and identify with – and do stories here resonate with me?’ (I hate ‘resonate’ but it is apt here). Naff old stock photos for instance, rarely effect this.

Why Are You Online?

If you’re not clear about why you’ve got a blog or site, then visitors won’t be either. The worse reason is ‘because everyone else has’. A portfolio blog for instance (which this is) is quite different from a magazine blog, where you need much fuller content – and a different design.

And if you’ve a magazine offer : do you want visitors who browse and pootle about, or ones who come quite specifically to search for information?


Those of you who use google analytics or alternatives will know that ‘bounce rate’ , how long visitors stay on a page, can be measured. Where you’re supplying ready and hard information for visitors, a hasty exit from a page could be an indicator of satisfaction.

This all depends on:

Who Do You Want To Attract?

Web designers, marketing and sales professionals, psychologists and sociologists use the idea of ‘persona’. (The ancient Greeks can lay claim to this notion first, in their masked plays, which explained the meaning of life.)

Personas are archetypes rather than stereotypes who, if you are already established in a business or professional role, you will know. A typical client, or customer. And you may have three or four of them.

As well as demographic information on these imagined-but-based-on-reality individuals, it helps to ask: ‘What do they love, what do they hate, how do I want them to feel when they leave my blog or site?’

And for your ‘outreach’ work from your blog or site, onto social online and live networks, it helps to ask the most obvious ‘ Where else do my ideal personas hang out?’

Many people I talk to resist committing tightly to a specific persona, fearing it will limit appeal.

But the way content creation works, it is always easier to widen your net, rather than failing to get the focus, momentum and direction that narrowcasting drives.

Here’s a lovely example of narrowcasting and focus on this hotel site (especially in the video). These are friends of mine, I should declare…and every bit as jolly as they look in their deckchairs.

And the content in this post owes inspiration to Jakob Neilsen, usability sage and Simon Sinek’s book Start With Why.

Here’s the slides that went with the workshop:


By szcz

6 thoughts on “Browser, Searcher, Shopper: What Your Visitor Wants To DO”
  1. Love the new site! And as always the info is bang on and useful too
    One of the biggest challenges in my job is to get my clients to ‘face up’ to the persona’s they are targeting (or demographic for that matter)
    Its so much easier, and much more intuitive, to aim at as broad a market as possible. But experience has taught me that poor segmentation is a fast way to make a campaign fail – it amazes me how many people still fall foul of it
    Almost every example of great advertising and marketing or pretty much any communication has this narrowcasted element to it, and hopefully one day everyone will catch on!
    Thanks Pippa, another great article

    1. Thanks Tony – and yes, this reluctance to commit to specific persona is very common isn’t it? I suppose it’s partly to do with thinking we may ‘get it wrong’ … whereas it’s more useful to think of it as an experiment, which can be changed if we wish and when we get feedback that it isn’t working… And the ‘start-up’ books are full of notion like ‘pivoting’ – turning your biz around when you realize it has a totally different appeal than the one you anticipated..

  2. Really enjoyed your presentation tonight Pippa, thankyou. Your enthusiasm is infectious and I love your take on content.

    In my line (copywriting & marketing), I call your Persona, Target Profile and usually recommend clients ask their best customer if they can interview them. You have to pick not just a profitable client but one you love working with and who loves & values what you do. Take that favourite customer out for coffee (& cake), a beer or glass of red and then ask questions and listen hard to find out all those details you suggested. What keeps them up at night and what conversely, gets them out of bed, raring to go! Where they hang out etc etc. Would love to catch up some more with you…….

    1. Thanks Juliet, much appreciated.

      This is such a fab suggestion, taking a best customer out and involving them in our research. Biz as pleasure, sociable and infectious… And few problems with work/life balance when we’re spending time with people we really like and who give us energy.

      Yes please, let’s talk further definitely… and maybe coffee, cake and red wine should feature…

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