The Importance Understanding Your Audience
Every designer has their own unique style and biases, but they should all be asking the same first question when it comes to designing a website or any other digital property: who is the primary audience?
Whether you’re the business owner, a member of the marketing department, or hold a position somewhere else within your organization, understanding the habits, likes, and needs of your audience is critical to the success of your website.
Let’s take a look at knowing the primary audience can have an impact on design:
Nothing But Thieves is a relatively new band based in Southend-on-Sea, England. Their style of music is very much in line with the generation that grew up using social media – an age group we’ll call the “Social Media Generation.”
The Social Media Generation expects two things:
1) easy access to what they want (re: they’re not going to fill out any forms for you); 2) access from anywhere with any device. Couple those demands with a limited attention span and you have a real design challenge on your hands.
Knowing that Nothing But Thieves’ primary audience is easily distracted, the site is cleverly designed as a single-page with clear calls to action. The band’s music plays upon page load, and the central design element – a circular sound wave that changes shape and style as you scroll – pulses to the beat. It’s a “wow-factor” that will keep the Social Media Generation on the site long enough to associate the page’s functionality with the music playing in the background. The ideal flow here is for users to click on more songs to see how the sound wave reacts. If they like the music, ideally, they’ll click on a call to action that will take them to iTunes or another streaming service to buy the music they heard on the website.
As far as multi-device access, the Nothing But Thieves site is accessible on any device and renders appropriately for desktop, tablet and mobile phone. This is accomplished with responsive design, which allows the designer and developer to work with one code base. On a mobile device, the “wow-factor” of pulsing sound waves is disabled, but the focus on playing individual tracks is accentuated.
The Nothing But Thieves site is successful simply because it speaks directly to the intended audience, provides easy access to what they want, and leads them to the appropriate goals.
Take the Next Step For Your CompanyIf you’re looking create or re-design your website, the most powerful information you can provide to your agency will pertain to your primary and/or intended audience. For example, if you are selling products/services in a direct-to-consumer market, you should work on gathering the following about your customers:
- Demographic breakdown
- Income and purchasing habits
- “What makes them tick” (think about what will make them stay on your website, and what might make them leave – like security concerns, for example).
Answers to these questions will inform the user interface and the way in which the “customer journey” will be identified for your site.
Next, find some of the websites, both in and outside of your industry, that appeal to you. Look at some of the details. Does the site use images and/or video effectively? How easy is it to navigate from one page to the next? When the home page loads, where is the first place you are compelled to go?
The better you understand your audience – and what you are looking for up front – the more time and effort you will save when the process of creating or re-designing your website begins.