This guest post was written by Tom Walker who is a writer and designer working with a specialist provider of CartridgeSave. You can read more of his writing on the topics of design and print media on their blog. Over to you Tom.
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It is critical when designing your website to understand and recognize your target audience. Many websites lose sight of this fact or never really have a true target audience in mind to begin with. The loss of this most fundamental aspect of any website may lead to a meandering design that tries to appeal to everyone, thus lacking focus and in actuality appealing to very few. Being too broad in scope may draw occasional visitors, but risks being so vague and bland that it connects with only a very small readership.
However, some websites take it in the other direction, choosing to focus so strongly on their target audience that they narrowly pinpoint too particular a demographic or segment in their design, therefore ostracizing other possible audiences. This can in turn leave their audience too small to support the site.
If you’re concerned about focusing your website’s design toward your target audience, here are some crucial areas you may want to consider when doing so.
Think Like Your Audience From the Beginning
When you write or post items on your website, to whom are you writing? Who do you think will see what you are posting? Will the design and information contained on your site have the desired effect upon this audience?
These are the types of questions you might want to ask yourself when it comes to envisioning who will be you target audience. If you don’t have a clear idea before you begin designing your website, the sooner you can get one, the sooner you can begin to design a website that is better geared toward your target audience.
Profile Your Target Market
But sometimes it isn’t that easy to pinpoint an exact target audience. Knowing who or what kind of people you want your site to appeal to, may not be so cut and dry. Let’s take the design of a financial website for example. A financial website could appeal to a huge variety of audiences, each with their own needs when it comes to design. There could be the personal finance audience who is looking for articles teaching them how to save money. Maybe the stockbroker and investment analyst audience is looking for hot stock picks and fancy charts. It could be that the baby boomer, retiree audience needs retirement calculators. Or are you catering to the stay-at-homers looking to clip coupons to save on diapers, baby food and household items?
Therefore, when you are considering your target audience, consider breaking your possible audience into categories of people most likely to be in tune with your site. Categories such as age, sex, profession, income, interests, hobbies and geographic location may all come into play when deciding if your website’s design matches your target audience.
Cater to Varying Abilities & Skill Levels
You will also likely need to consider the abilities of your target audience when it comes to your website design. Is your target audience going to have the skills, education or capability needed to understand, navigate and properly use your website as you have designed it? Just because you’ve created a beautiful website doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be conducive to your target audience’s needs. If your website isn’t useful to your target audience, you may find yourself with a site that is incredibly designed, but used by no one.
Will They Return?
Finally, you might consider whether the design of your website has made it worth your target audience’s while to return. If not, maybe this isn’t your target audience after all, or maybe you need to adjust the design of your website if it is not conducive to your audience’s needs. Consider the balance between design and usability on your website to better ensure your target audience will visit again. What do you need to do to attract and keep your target audience? Is it your site’s design that you may need to adjust or your theory behind who your target audience may actually be? Being open and honest when answering such questions will allow you to focus on how or if your website’s design and your target audience are compatible.