Learning to Swim [Part 3: Archetype Users]

A few years ago I sat in on a full day design charrette to “re:vision” San Francisco’s Civic Center District. 70+ visionary experts, architects and officials from the City’s planning offices were basically locked in a room until they came up with some good ideas. The first task was to look at the data and identify a series of USERS through which we would view the district.

  • a single mother with a stroller, looking for a restroom
  • an attorney navigating official sites, avoiding street interaction
  • a tourist with minimal English speaking ability, looking for free wifi
  • a student shortcutting through on his/her way to school
  • etc.

Dozens of archetypes, each representing a large swath of the population, formed an ethereal council that guided the planning process. They didn’t make them up. They extracted them from the data. And because we designed for them, and kept our eye on emotionally, behaviorally relevant data, the outcomes were exhilarating to witness. For us, the experience seeded new perspectives on how to use analytics to guide forward decision-making in community development.

Use your users. If, when goals are met and content areas are performing ideally, you do not see a rise in sales (or whatever your conversion goal is), then use behavioral analytics to establish archetype users, and then let these data clusters provide the clues necessary to evolve your offering.

social media behavior measurement applications

Optimization Before Growth

For many businesses, most web traffic will never return, or will not return often, to the same content they consumed once. So don’t focus on audience growth if you can’t meet that growth with a viable conversion strategy.

All of that stuff I have been talking about above? Repeat, repeat, repeat until you meet this checklist for the average visitor:

√ goes where you want them to go
√ consumes content you want them to
√ realistic % “convert” to engagement goal


Now you are ready to grow. Likely by this time, you understand your customer/audience better than you ever could have imagined. Likely by this time, you are already growing like wildfire because you’ve begun to plan your content and campaigns based on what your users want.

This is the time to hire an expert, if you haven’t already become one yourself, who can create a growth strategy which integrates (and understands) behavioral analytics.