By Jessica Moretter, Creative Director, BizzyWeb
There are always a series of questions that I have when I approach a web design project. They are pretty typical among all web designers and no matter who you work with they will (or they should) ask you at the very least these two questions:
- What do you want to accomplish with your website, or rather, what is your primary goal?
- Who is your target audience?
Why do we ask these two questions in particular? Because they are the main two things that help build the user experience for your website. You’ve heard BizzyWeb say this before (and it’s completely true): your website is not a brochure. Your website is a marketing engine that engages your users and turns them into customers, which in turn grows your business. No matter what kind of website you are building – whether it be a blog site, a business site, or an eCommerce site – the end goal should always be to engage with your users on some level in order to convert them into returning readers, clients, or purchasers. What do you need to keep in mind?
Define Your Audience
The actual goal will be different for every website as we dig further into how to engage users based on your business model. And that begins with your target audience. It’s extremely important to know who your target audience is.
Most of our clients come to us with a very broad spectrum of users. In order to make sure the objectives are clear for your users, it’s important to dig down to a very specific set of users and build the user experience to fit their needs. Demographics are important, but so are the social factors that affect today’s audiences. Social factors include buying preferences, online behavior, social media use, and technology, as well as factors that affect lifestyle and attitude. When we take a close look at generational differences and the characteristics of each generation, we get a better idea of how a target audience will engage with websites.
Creating specific personas for your users helps to ensure that the engagement process is built properly and that the tasks set out for your users is clear and concise. Personas should include a general profile for each of your users. Think about what your Facebook profile holds and set up your personas in a similar fashion. They should be “real” people and thought of as such.
Use Your Audience To Your Advantage
So what do we do with all of that info? Well, it helps us to begin building a strategy around how a website will be built. Once we have the goals and audience nailed down, then we start taking a look at what the needs and wants are. What specific tools or functions does your audience need to meet your goal? What are the tools or functions that they may want to make the user experience more intuitive, but are not necessarily required to meet the goal? Breaking down the needs versus the wants is another part of the strategy for building a great website. We start by figuring out how to solve the users’ needs and then we enhance the experience by building in the wants, if they are useful and applicable.
Design For Your Audience, Not For You
The last thing to remember when embarking on a web design project is that websites are for your customers. Many companies forget about this when they start the web design process. They spend a lot of time considering what they want for their website and not enough time on what their customers want. Most companies rarely look at their own website when all is said and done. And why should they? Their website isn’t for their internal audience, but for their external audience.
As a designer, I actually spend less time designing and more time strategizing. Just this morning I remarked how hard this job can be sometimes. It’s not just about making a website look pretty, but how everything fits together and functions as a unit so that specific goals can be met and measured. Designing for today’s audience is all about strategy and finding solutions to problems.
* * *
Need help identifying your ideal customer?
We’ve got you covered. The first step of every web design project is to pinpoint your market. Then, take it a step further with our Buzz Builders online marketing programs to keep a steady line of leads coming in the door.