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We are often asked to evaluate websites and “What can I do to make it better?” or “How do I get people to read it?” are questions we hear frequently.

The first thing to look for, beyond graphics or anything else, is an understanding of the intended audience.

Time and time again, the issues we find with a site are not tied to user interface or even poor graphic design. It’s that the site does not communicate well to the target audience of the business. When constructing a website, putting yourself in the shoes of your prospective audience and understanding how they use your site is VITAL.

Why does knowing your audience matter?

A website is essentially a tool for communication. There is a reason we look at prehistoric cave paintings with furrowed eyebrows and cocked heads.

They were a communication tool used by a vastly different audience. To someone thousands of years ago, the little stick figurines made sense. They told a story and provided helpful information in a way that the people of that time appreciated and understood. To us, however, the ochre stick figures are mysteries.

If you don’t understand who you are communicating to, how they want to be communicated with, or what information they are seeking to learn, then your potential customers will be like tourists trying to make sense of ochre stick figures. The key difference, however, is that a tourist will wonder about the meaning of the ancient figures while your site visitors will, more likely than not, leave. 

By taking the time to understand your audience and communicate with them in an effective, clear, and helpful way, you save yourself from another opportunity missed. 

How do you learn more about your audience?

4 Steps to Know Your Audience:

1) Name your audience groups. Are they customers? Vendors? Investors? Prospective employees? List every single one—it’s important you don’t miss any.
2) Dig a little deeper and create a target audience persona. List all the key characteristics and motivators that define this group. What are their goals? What do they do for fun? What scares them? This is a combination of demographic and psychographic features.
3) For each audience group, name everything they may want from your website. What information do they value the most? Are they simply coming to your site to find a phone number and call for more details? Are they looking for specific documents to download? Do they need a list of products you offer?
4) Based on this, clearly define what message you must communicate to each audience group and what action (if any) you desire for them to take.

Now, with this information in hand, you’re prepared. In fact, don’t make another change to your website without it! Instead, use the answers you discovered to craft a website that speaks to your audiences in a way they want to hear. You may find they start to listen. 

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