Most websites, and their content, design, font, images, color, style, etc, are focused at a particular type of person, and these persons (Persona) are collectively called your target audience. The target audience is made up if the people you want to visit your site, and who the intended content is directed to. It could be youth, elderly, college students, doctors, lawyers, or in my case, web developers and designers. When you are promoting a website, one of the most crucial areas to consider is who your target audience will be. In addition, with all websites, the goal is to increase viewers, and with some sites, you want viewers to stay for an extended period of time, purchase items, select your business, and ultimately return to your site in the future, become a regular user, or even recommend it to others. One of the leading problems that web developers face is deciding what audiences they are going to have before they start developing the website, then knowing how to design and develop the site with that audience in mind. You cannot always make everyone who visits your site stay or return, but what I always suggest when doing a site is concentrate on the target audience, and you are sure to have a content group that is going to return in the future. Here are some things to consider when designing and developing for your target audience.
Designing for your Target Audience
When you are brainstorming your design, make sure you do not just consider what you are fond of, or what your client is fond of, but rather more importantly consider what your visitor is fond of! The intended visitor of the site is who must find your design attractive and interesting, in order for your site to be a success. Here are some things to consider when designing for your target audience.
When designing for your target audience, you need to consider their attitude as a general consensus. What this means essentially is to ask yourself, is your target viewers as an audience is easy to please, thrifty, computer savvy, thus particular and picky? The attitude of your viewers can cross demographics or it can be particular to a certain demographic. This is all research you need to do to improve your site and the conversion rate of your viewers. Moreover, much of what goes into a website is psychology, and this is true on so many levels, so consider how certain colors, backgrounds, layout, etc affect your viewer. All of these are important area to focus on when contemplating your design. Check out, “The Meaning of Color for Design,” to see an explanation of how and what colors affect the psychology of the viewer.
The demographics of the people who you want to visit your site are also very important to consider when designing your site. These demographics can include gender, ethnicity, race, age, education level, and even economic level. You must try to think as if you are your target audience, and you need to decide what it is they would like.
Geography is an important sub-part of demography, and this is the study of where the people are coming from and how their region, culture, country, or even language affects how they are as a target audience. For example, this area is important at the time you are going to design a website, because you should considerate the culture you are focusing on, because colors can vary country to country. You should know what type of colors to use in your designs, if you are focusing on a particular person from a particular area of the world or even of the US.
This is something to consider no matter what type of site you are designing or developing, because you must consider the education level of the target audience, as to know how to focus your content. For example, if you are doing a blog that focuses on engineering, and your target audience are educated engineers, your content should be more advanced and less basic, as not to bore your target audience. However, on the other hand, if your website is targeted at young teenage girls wanting to learn about fashion design, your content should focus more on introductory articles, tutorials, and more images. In addition, remember to consider education and skill level when selecting the diction for your page. For example, do not use advanced vocabulary on a page targeted to children, and do not use slang on a page targeted to professionals.
Developing and BROWSERS for Target Audience
The target audience must also be considered when the development of your site is in motion. A major problem that developers face is cross-browser programming, and this includes all client side development. The issue stems from the fact that older browsers may not support newer technologies or specifications and could force the programmer to reinvent the wheel to support those browsers. For example, the method
Big companies like Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, go out of their way to comply with and support almost all browsers versions, because their target audience is so vast. They get a large amount of traffic from different browsers that the most trivial one could embody many thousands of visits a month. However, on the contrary, YouTube, Digg, 37signals and Facebook are requiring their users to upgrade their browsers, because these sites know that their target audience is generally more computer literate, and thus will be or will not mind using the most recent browser available. In my opinion, alerting the visitor to upgrade the browser in order to better experience the web, is a great idea, and should be done by web developers.
Personally, I think when you are developing a website and you know your target audience, program for the browser that you expect they will use. For example, this website, Admix Web, is blog for web designers/developers that want to share knowledge about web related issues. In this case, I program for IE7, IE8, Firefox, Safari, Chrome and Opera 8+, because they are the most popular browsers to use for this audience. Therefore, I did not concern myself with programming for IE5 or IE6 because, if there is someone that knows about web development, then most likely they will not be using those older browsers as their primary browsers. And, if you are using older browsers such as these, I would suggest for you to update your browser in order to have the ability to experience the web more completely and improve the quality of your work. Personally, Firefox is my preferred browser, because of its incredible capabilities. However, if your target audience is broader or less computer savvy, then make sure to program for IE6, and maybe even IE5, to support your target audience.
Other Things to Consider
Web accessibility is the idea of making websites easily accessed by all types of people including those with certain disabilities, different languages, or lack of access to certain technology. It is important for you to consider that a certain percentage of your site’s visitors will be in this category, for example as I mentioned above, are they a general audience or a particular audience, are they computer savvy or just learning to use a computer. If your website is easily accessible by your target audience, this will increase the frequency they will view and use your website. As I have stated before, people will not visit a site that they find difficult to utilize. Therefore, if you want to increase your web accessibility, consider who your target audience is and make sure that audience will have access to the site, i.e. browsers. In my article, “Simple Tips to Improve your Web Accessibility,” you can get some suggestions as to how to make your website more accessible for your viewers. In conclusion, an important thing to consider when developing for your target audience is to make sure the website is accessible.
Develop for the Most Standards
Always use a browser that respects the standard as your primary browser in web development. Then, hack the other browsers that do not carry the standards. For example, I use Firefox as my primary browser because it has a high W3C support rating, and it has several plugins for fast development. Then, I test the other browsers to make sure its compatible, having IE as the last in importance on my list. Even, if IE is the most popular browser, you as developer should create a website that respects the standards, in order to create a website with the content accessible to your target audience.
Tools to Help you Know your Audience
If you do not know who your audience is for a particular site or if you want to know exact numbers and statistics, once the site is launched, use tools like Google Analytics, Alexa, Quantcast, Goingup, and others to get detailed reports of the types of people that encompass your audience. This is a great way to make sure your target audience is actually the audience that is viewing your site! And, remember, your audience is a vital piece in the success of your site! Do not forget about them!