When putting together content and thinking about design for your website you really need to think about who you’re “selling” to, whether that’s in the literal or figurative sense. Many new business people, when starting out, will say, “I want to appeal to everyone so that I can get as much business as possible.” Of course you want to get lots of business, but you’ll be much better off targeting a specific group of people, and doing it better than everyone else, than trying to please everyone to only a small degree. Although your audience will be smaller in size, it’ll be a more receptive one and you’ll get better results.
In determining your target market, consider your service or product and who it will most appeal to.
Think about geographic region, gender, age, and possibly even socio-economic status, education level, profession, race, religion, etc. An example group is male college students in the Pacific Northwest. Another is retired North American female teachers.
Once you’ve narrowed down exactly who your target audience is, it should be a lot more clear how to go about marketing your business on your website and in general. For business websites, a well-defined and specific target market, will not only make it easier for you to market your product or service, it will also make it easier for customers and clients to find you via search engines (e.g., Google).
Your target audience will affect the content included in your site as well as how that content is presented.
Different groups respond to various methods of communication differently, so it’s important to know what will work best with the group you’re trying to get your message across to.
Obviously, writing for children will be much different than writing for adults. Writing for members of a specific profession may allow you the freedom to use certain terminology without needing to explain it. Whoever your target audience is, write as if you were speaking directly to that group of people.
The design of your website should be directly related to your target audience as well.
For example, a site geared towards kids would certainly need to look much different than one intended for business people. The former would be more fun, perhaps incorporating some animation and/or music, a rainbow of colours, and “kid-friendly” fonts (e.g., Comic Sans, Jokerman, etc.); the latter would have more of a corporate, serious tone, utilizing more conservative colours (e.g., black and white, navy blue, forest green, etc.) and fonts (Times New Roman, Arial, etc.).
Font size might also be an issue. While many younger surfers have no problem reading small type on-screen, a lot of more senior or visually impaired people have difficulty making out anything smaller than size 12, 14, or even larger font.
Also, consider how many graphics and “bells and whistles” you’ll want. If your audience is not very computer literate and generally includes people with slow Internet connections, it doesn’t make sense to include large, slow-loading graphics, animations, and video clips. You want your site to be user friendly and don’t want your visitors leaving because they’ve become frustrated with the navigation or because your website loads too slowly. Conversely, if your audience is the younger generation, including flashy graphics and other “fun” elements might be more appropriate and even necessary to grab their attention.
Once you’ve taken the time to really define who your target audience is, writing the copy for your website and coming up with a suitable design will be much simpler. Use common sense, test your site out on a sample of your target audience, listen to their feedback, and your website should soon give you the results you’re looking for.