From inventors, to investors, marketing exerts to graphic designers a common thread is the need to understand the target audience. For a website no matter the purpose is greatly influenced by who is expected to use it. As designers creating content that appeals to the target audience is essential, before even creating such an appeal, how do you find who the target audience should be.
The inexperience designers will say “Everyone”, that is unrealistic. The design of a website that is meant to help the elderly will not look the same as a website for teenage gaming.
I always start with research, not in the library or out on the field but with a client survey and my best friend – Google. I ask questions to find out who my client is, what they do, who’s their competition and how they want to be perceived. Then I google their competition and see what I’m stacked up against.
Next, I create personas for different visitors of the site. This can be fun! At Web Ascender, we always use characters from our favorite TV shows. As a team we determine their age, job title, gender, education and how the persona will be interacting with the website. It might be necessary to create several personas, because your target audience will most likely be a group of different people.
How to design for your target audience?
Once I’ve completed the necessary research for my project, I begin to design for my audience. Key phrase here: design for my audience. Although I might be dying to try out a new technique, I need to think about my target audience. Layouts, color choices, font selections and content are all important decisions that need to be made.
The information that needs to be display and the audience you are trying to reach will help determine what kind of layout will work best for your site. If I have a younger audience I am more likely to go with a full width layout because it will more likely appeal to a trendier crowd. However, if I have a more contemporary audience and lots of information to display it would be best to go with a more traditional layout.
Colors are powerful and play an important role in the world we live in. Colors can sway thinking, change actions and effect moods. Color can also play an important role in the perception of the target audience. For example, I wouldn’t expect to see a black healthcare website, so I suggest that you choose colors that make sense to the market.
These days there are so many web safe fonts to choose from. My favorite fonts come from Google’s web safe font collection. But selecting appropriate fonts for your audience is also important. If I were designing for a younger group, I may use a fun scripted font whereas a corporate site would use a more conservative font such as Open Sans, Arial or Helvetica.
Your target audience will also affect the content on your site and how the information is presented. If I am writing for professionals, I may use industry specific terminology more freely. Whereas if I’m writing for children, I would use different methods to communicate my message.
Before you start your next website design, make a conscious decision to determine your audience. By keeping your target audience in mind you will make better decisions about the look and feel of your website and deliver your client with results they deserve.