What Kind of Personality Does Your Website Have?

Websites, like people, have personalities. They can’t help it, they just do. I’ve looked at a lot of websites over the past few years, and sometimes wondered about the personalities of the sites that I’ve seen.

If you take a close look at a website, can you describe its personality?

Does it attempt to evoke emotions in visitors or persuade them with facts?

Is it cold or warm and welcoming?

Does it use humor or fear or anger when communicating with visitors?

Is it wordy or does it use a minimum of words?

Is it inviting for first time visitors?

Does it provide reasons for people to return?

Does it change over time, or is it fixed and unchanging?

Does it display a social conscience or is it all business?

Is it written for a male audience or a female audience or a general audience?

Does it speak to a younger crowd, or an older group?

Does it welcome visitors with differing perspectives?

Does it use different time perspectives to discuss benefits for the future, or solutions for the present, or problems from the past?

Is it community minded, and is that community local or online?

Does it pay mind to traditions?

Is it innovative in scope or design or with what it offers?

Is it credible and trustworthy and display expertise?

Does it exude enthusiasm and the development of potential?

Is it cooperative or competitive?

Is it introverted or extroverted?

Is it an idealist or a pragmatist?

Is it fun-loving and optimistic?

Does it plan for tomorrow or spend for today?

Is it graceful in design or practical in appearance?

Does it focus upon the big picture, or upon small details?

Is it responsive to questions, to criticism, to praise?

Does it give something of value away for free?

Is its focus upon benefits it offers viewers, or upon the features of the organization it belongs to?

Does it ask for something of value without providing anything in return?

Is it more like a peer talking to you directly, or like a parent lecturing you?

Website Personality Resources

A mix of informational sites and personality tests that I thought were interesting:

Personality Theories – An academic view of many of the theories used to define and describe personality

Keirsey Temperament Sorter II – One of the most widely used personality tests in the world. I’ve taken it about 5 or 6 times over the past few years, and come up with an INFP result each time.

The Big Five Personality Test – An online test where you’re asked a number of questions to describe different aspects of your personality.

Know Your Own Mind: Free In-Depth Personality Test – A very long personality test, but it asks a lot of great questions, and may get you thinking about personality more deeply.

Who Are You: Get a Personality – Chapter 5 (pdf) – A chapter from Luke Wroblewski’s book that looks at how the design of a website can influence how it is perceived by others.

Typealyzer (no longer available) – A tool that looks at the URL of a blog, and provides a Myers-Briggs type personality assessment to the content it finds at that site.

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43 thoughts on “What Kind of Personality Does Your Website Have?”

  1. Interesting. I have Never really thought about web sites having a personality, but I guess they do.

    I wonder if a look at the top web sites and search engines would reveal that some personalities are more popular than others.

  2. Happy Saturday to you Bill – I REALLY like it when we get to peek under your hood in the form of non-technical posts. I know we both share the belief (much like search engines) that the end user experience is as important to SEO as anything. When users are pleased with the experience they tend to spread the word (aka links) and ultimately there is no point in traffic if it doesn’t convert/engage.

    I loved this list and have saved it as a veritable checklist for website identity development. Thanks for provoking thoughts as always…

    Hope you’re having a great weekend… talk soon…

    Dave

  3. I couldn’t agree more, and the worst thing that a blogger can do is to try and “neutralize” their personality.

    I am AltSearchEngines, and AltSearchEngines is me!

    Cheers,

    Charles Knight, editor
    AltSearchEgines.com

  4. Hi People Finder,

    I think it would be an interesting survey to look at a number of popular and highly ranking websites, and see what kinds of personalities that they have.

    I suspect that successful sites that cover certain topics may have personalities that either match those topics, or the audiences that those sites may be written for. For example, it’s possible to have two highly ranking sites about the law with one taking a critical look at laws and reasons to amend laws, and another taking a humorous look at laws.

    Sites written for serious python programmers might have very different personality traits than sites written to educate children, or sites describing financial services and retirement benefits.

    I’ve seen a few comments or blog posts from bloggers who have written about the results of the Typealyzer program, saying that the personality results for their blogs don’t match their own personal personality results on a Myers-Briggs assessment. That would be interesting to look at more deeply as well.

  5. Hi Dave,

    Poking and prodding patents is fun, but it can be enjoyable to focus on something other than patents, too. Thanks for your kind words on this post.

    Finding ways to engage and intrigue your audience is at least as important as building a search engine friendly foundation for your website, if not more important.

    I’m glad that you liked the list of questions – I’ve been seriously considering using it as a starting point for a longer checklist myself.

    I hope your weekend was a good one, too. My parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this weekend, and it was nice to join together with my family and friends to help them look back at the last 50 years. Thanks.

  6. Hi Charles,

    I agree with you. An author should write about the things that they enjoy, and let their opinions and perspectives come in in their writing, especially when they are blogging.

    I have seen ecommerce sites though, where the personality that comes through the pages may not be the best match for the audience that it addresses. A site about ice fishing should be written by someone who actually likes ice fishing, and the people who those pages are created for should be able to relate to what appears on those pages. A site about wedding planning should be written by someone who will write in a manner that people who are planning a wedding can relate to, and be engaged by.

  7. Fun, tried the typealyzer and found out that we are the Doers, which is somewhat true since we make our own products.

  8. Great post! I think this is extremely important. The personality of your site can tell you how people feel when they visit it, giving you insight as to how it should and could be changed to manipulate your visitors to feel just as you want them too!

  9. Hello,

    I haven’t considered the personality for a website. Looking this post give me a lot of points in attracting visitors to my website. If i redesign my website i will keep working these points.

    Thanks for this post :)

  10. it seems that m not romantic…Typealyzer has declared me as Duty Fulfiller who is happy to be let alone…

    no one will marry me :)

  11. Hi Erica,

    Thanks. I don’t think the idea I’m trying to get across here is about manipulating visitors as much as it is communicating with them in a way that feels appropriate for what the site has to offer, to people who might be interested in that information or those goods or services or opportunities. Paying attention to how the pages of a site might come across to visitors is a step in understanding how effectively it might be communicating.

  12. Hi cdsseo ,

    You’re welcome. So many web sites that I see come across as depersonalized, which was one of the reasons why I wrote this. I hope it does inspire some ideas in your next redesign.

  13. This reminds me of the field of usability. After all, aren’t those web usability guys job to tell us how to design our site so it conveys emotions and stuff like that?

    I would like to mention (I don’t know if you heard of) Jakob Nielsen. His website is http://www.useit.com/ and as you’ll see, although not very fashionable it conveys several ‘personalities.’ Left: Friendly for first-time visitors by indirectly answering the question: WHAT IS THIS WEBSITE ALL ABOUT…eh many articles about web usability so it’s about usability then.

    On the right is the ‘credibility’ part, news and press.

    But that wasn’t my point. I’ve read several of his articles on this topic on how to design your websites and several other usability articles and this is my conclusion.

    Since most users ignore the blah-blah text or ‘about us’ page it would be a good idea to make your website in a way to indirectly convey what’s it’s all about (no matter what type of audience it is). Your site is about SEO concepts, that’s all. That’s the main personality.

    My point was that the best type of website personality is achieved by:

    1) Researching your target audience
    2) Indirectly conveying to your target audience through the content that they’ll get what they need on your blog/website.

    I think that should be the cornerstone and stuff like credibility boosters, community may be as “addons”.

    Sorry that this comment didn’t have a specific ‘point’ lol…just wanted to tell some things I think when it comes to all this website personality stuff because I hear it too much overgeneralized. Again, different types of website personalities will apply to your audience so you might want to check that too. You just reminded me to take a through look at my website and make it more ‘personal’ ;)

  14. Hi Mark,

    Thanks. Some great points. There are a number of different possible labels that we might place the idea paying attention to the personality of a website under. I think Usability would be a good choice. I’ve also seen people use the words “persuasive design” as well as “engagibility.”

    I’m familiar with Dr. Nielsen, and I’m glad that you brought him up and linked to his site. I’d definitely recommend that people building websites spend some time learning about usability, and his site is a good starting point. Another site that I would recommend would be Jared Spool’s User Interface Engineering site at http://www.uie.com/ You can get a sense of the personality of both by spending time at their sites.

    The topics that he discusses often overlap with ones that Jakob Nielsen writes about, and they don’t always agree, which makes things interesting.

    I think you touched on one of the keys to the idea of making sure that a website has a personality – that personality is one that needs to be appropriate to what you offer and what your audience might be happy seeing on your site.

  15. My websites would normally just quench people’s thurst for information. You should see genderanalyzer . com, I really liked the concept and am really impressed with the accuracy :)

  16. I like the typeanalyzer website. It matched my personality and how I write my blog pretty spot on. I am a logical thinker and am very organized. Thanks for the great link.

  17. I like to think that my websites have either a sunny disposition or are wearing the equivalent of business suits! Time to go back and look at them with a critical eye i think.

  18. Hi MOGO Media,

    Thanks.

    Hi Jeet,

    Good point. Focusing upon providing information to visitors is a good approach. How you do it may make a difference in whether people come back to your site for more. I think the personality of your site may play a role in that.

    Hi pays to live green,

    I enjoyed the typealyzer site myself. I checked out a number of sites with it, and it was interesting to see how they came out.

    Hi marketingmat,

    It can be hard to look at your own sites critically sometimes, because you can get so close to them that you overlook things. For instance, a lot of people might expect their blogs to share a similar personality with themselves. That’s partially why I find the typealyzer program interesting. It doesn’t hurt to examine your sites closely, and ask questions about it like the ones that I listed. I’m trying to do more of that myself.

  19. I always aim at making people understand things easily.So i try to use the questionaire method in the articles especially when i write too lengthy articles.This makes people grasp things.

  20. I think every people has their own style for their website but its a good thing to know about your site personality first before you promote it

  21. Hi arshad,

    Thanks. It’s good to try out different approaches, and if you consistently use a certain method or style of writing, it often becomes something that people recognize. A questionnaire approach can be a nice and easy way of helping people to grasp something.

    Hi Thewirds,

    Good points. I think it’s helpful to think about the personality of your site when you’re writing as well.

  22. I’ve never thought of how my website has a personality because it is mainly me casting opinion on various subjects in a blog format. Perhaps people would prefer more informative posts rather than opinionated?

  23. Being a web designer I definitely believe websites have personality. That is the purpose of the design to evoke an emotion or feeling in the user and to accurately reflect the websites purpose.

  24. Thanks William, after having a fair idea about personalities of website from your article, I think I need to change few things on my website.

    It is travel website and it should be more welcoming to new visitors and must have something to encourage people to re visit.

  25. Hi Agra,

    Good to hear that you’re thinking about how your site might be more interesting, helpful and engaging to visitors. Ultimately, that’s what’s important when it comes to having a web site.

  26. Thanks William for your kind words.

    Ultimately to achieve some thing you need to think and start working and that’s the key for success.

  27. Great post, its true that websites have a personality.

    Thanks for the list of useful questions to ask myself next time i’m designing.

  28. Site’s personality, IMO, is the reflection of its owner/author. Especially when we read the post, somehow it’s like we can feel the mood of the author when he’s writing it.
    Answering the question in your post title, I want my blog to be warm and welcoming my reader well. Unfortunately, I’m not really sure whether I have done it right or wrong. :(

  29. Hi dekguss99,

    I’m not always sure that the mood of an author always comes through when we read a page. But I do think there are things that we can try to make it more likely that it does. :)

    That’s part of the reason why I mostly used questions in my making this post, rather than trying to lecture on different aspects of a site, and how they might reveal the personality behind the site. I tried to make the post a little playful, and as a peer sharing the questions instead of as someone lecturing.

  30. Pingback: CRT/tanaka Blog » Blog Archive » Five rules to start with
  31. In my opinion, the most important questions listed here are:

    Is it cold or warm and welcoming? Is it credible and trustworthy and does it display expertise? Is it graceful in design and practical in appearance? Does it give something of value away for free? Is its focus upon the benefits that it offers viewers, or upon the features of the organization that it belongs to?

    I think that these question should be closely considered when launching or maintaining any website or blog if a professional appearance is to be given.

    The question: “Is it graceful in design and practical in appearance?” probably stands out in my mind more than all others.

    One thing that really annoys me about websites that I visit occasionally is a layout that the browser cannot read correctly, specifically, Internet Explorer. It is famous for incorrectly interpreting HTML code from what I have found. Any time I ever launch a new website, I always check to see how the browser of any visitor interprets the code to make sure that the true personality of the website shines through and that my visitor are not distracted by sloppy graphics.

    Mark

  32. Hi Mark,

    Thank you for your thoughtful comments. Design is an important aspect of how a site might communicate with its visitors, and a broken design can harm tht communication. A broken design or poor graphics sends as much of a message as the textual content of a page.

  33. Really great article. Not only can site personality be a reflection of the owner/author, but it is a really good think to think about when considering what sort of audience you’re trying to attract. A friend recently redid their web design from a bright, colorful design, to something much darker and more sleek hoping to attract a more corporate audience.

  34. Hi jhz,

    Thank you. Designing with your audience in mind is essential – for instance, you wouldn’t use a comic sans font on a financial services website, but you might on a coloring site for kids. :)

    A study from a few years back (2002) by the Stanford Persuasive Technologies Laboratory, in conjunction with Consumer Webwatch, uncovered some interesting results about how people viewed different kinds of sites in terms of things like credibility, and the important role that design played in their responses to those sites. If you’re interested, it’s definitely worth a look:

    Experts vs. Online Consumers: A Comparative Credibility Study of Health and Finance Web Sites (Abstract)

  35. My website is an INTJ for sure :). I’m an INFP. And I didn’t want my site to come across as a typical INFP, so I made it very rational, to the point, introspective, no room for misunderstanding or subjectivism.

    Yeah like all things in life all have a personality from cats to cars, and to website of course. Every manifestation of creation has a flavour, personality is a flavour.

  36. Thanks Cristian,

    I think you’ve illustrated an couple of important points – the “personality” of your website may be very different from your own personality, and a certain personality type for a website might be appropriate for certain kinds of audiences.

  37. Thank you for the post. I, like many designers found it so much harder to design my own website than one for a client. I guess it’s a case of thinking too much about it, or being overly critical. So far I can say that I am approached to design websites by female business owners more often than male ones. I’m pretty sure it’s due to the fact that my website does have a more feminine look (while not being overly so). I enjoyed the personality type discussion being brought up especially, INFJ here, and a Pisces one at that. I live to create!

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