Targeting your audience

In every field, usually the goal is to communicate an idea to a group of people. A smart salesman will change his pitch when speaking to an adult versus a teenager. In reality, we cant capture all people with only one method.

What’s a target audience and who are you designing for anyway? That’s the first question you should ask yourself before making a website. As a beginner designer you’re naturally tempted to design based off of your preferences and likes, but in reality the focus should be on the end user. The worst thing you can do is say “I want to reach everybody” because not everyone will be interested in whatever your product is.

Now to figure out your target audience

The idea is to meet those people looking for your product or service with your presentation of your product/service — and one that will convince them to buy from you.

  1. Who are your customers?
  2. What kind of presentation would seem “right” to these particular people?

Those are the two basic questions: who buys your product and service, and what approach, look, appeal would seem “right” to them. This alone can narrow down your design thoughts and allows you to be more effective. Just to give you a quick example , a website trying to sell luxury watches will probably have a more modern, cleaner look to it without an overflow of decorative typography. Also, a website that’s for children can be colorful with animations. The end goal is the most important, and a child will respond better to a colorful playful design versus a serious modern look.

Creating a complete description of a person is what most people do to get a visual of the projected target audience. So here’s a practical way to figure this out :

  1. Name
  2. Age
  3. Gender
  4. Job description
  5. Hobbies

You can add more to the list, but this is the start of it. What can you achieve with this? Well lets put it into action. Let’s say I want to create a website for a clothing line my partner is starting. He’s putting together a clothing line that represents loving and following God. He’s artistic so it’ll have a trendy feel to it. Let’s create a visual:

  1. John Duran
  2. Seventeen years old
  3. Male
  4. Movie theater usher
  5. Hanging out with friends, going to movies, basketball, serving at church

Something that I can take away from this simple list is that John is a young teenager who doesn’t make much money. For a website design I’ll make sure to have lots of photography that has young teenagers wearing the clothing and hanging out having a good time. Teenagers are always up to date, so the design should look like the year your currently in to not bore them and to give them the sense that this clothing line is hip. Another thing you can do to further this is to find your target’s motivations. Getting inside the targets head will help you make decisions and to make them do what you want to do. Sounds manipulative, but that’s just good design.

Once your website has been designed and launched, users among your target audience segments should be having positive experiences on the site. They should be easily finding the information they’re looking for and the information should resonate with them enough for them to complete an action.

Layout and Navigation: Websites must be user friendly and laid out according to a visual hierarchy, which helps users navigate through the pages and absorb information according to your clients’ preferences. A great layout for a child website’s is to have it nice and simple.

Color scheme: Color is a powerful tool, with the ability to influence users’ moods and emotions, and sway their behavior. For example, you don’t want a health website with black as the dominant color – something generally used to portray death.

Typography: The style and size of font you use will go a long way to expressing the personality of the brand. Kids love decorative fonts and more of a goofy font, but don’t use that for a website portraying a real estate agency. Keep font size in mind too – a younger audience will have no problems with smaller fonts, but if your audience are senior citizens or people with visual impairments, you don’t want a website with a 10pt font everywhere.

Images: Like I stated earlier in my John Duran example, a clothing line for teenagers should probably have a lot of photography with actual teenagers wearing the clothing line and enjoying life. It brings a sense of familiarity to the brand, and will catch their eye.

As the design process is underway, you may find your clients pitching in with various suggestions and recommendations for things they’d like to see in the site. Obviously listen to their ideas, but remember it’s your responsibility to be the Pilot in the design process. You need to keep the project on track and ensure the finished website will appeal to the target audience. Otherwise you’re letting your client down. Having a stunning website is important, but remember that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. A website is a marketing tool so regardless of how beautiful it is, if it doesn’t appeal to the right people or bring anything to the business, then it isn’t serving its purpose and is ultimately a bad investment.



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