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Thinking Like an End-User Designing for a Target Audience

I’m sure you’ve heard it at one point or another: “You need to design for your target audience”. But what does this mean exactly? How do you determine who your target market is, and more importantly, how do you design for them? When you get right down to the basic concept, it means thinking like somebody else – or more likely, an array of different people. Sometimes this is easier said than done, but by doing the necessary research, asking the appropriate questions, and “putting yourself in their shoes”, you can put together a design that will relate to your users and force them to take action – which is really what you’re looking for.

Why Target a Specific Audience

Taking your target audience into consideration is critical to the success of your website. As much as you want to believe that your product or service appeals to everyone, fact is, it most likely does not. That new ad for your BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger just isn’t going to get those personal trainers to come try one out, regardless of how amazing it is. They will still be sticking to their prepped meals of chicken and broccoli (yuck). Taking this knowledge into consideration, it is imperative to determine who is interested in your company’s service so that you can effectively communicate to them.

Who is Your Audience?

When it comes to figuring out who is interested in your service, it all comes down to doing the research. There are many attributes that define a user – from basic information such as age and gender, to more detailed information such as what types of music they listen to and what model car they drive. Knowing as much as possible about who is using your product will help you to better communicate to them.

If you have analytics to review, you’re already one step ahead of the game. Examining past website traffic is an invaluable method in taking a good hard look at many different attributes about your audience. Google Analytics does a fantastic job in breaking down your users by age, gender, location, screen resolution, etc., giving you a huge amount of data to work with.

It is imperative to determine who is interested in your company’s service so that you can effectively communicate to them.

Designing For Your Audience

Okay, so you’ve determined who your target market is, and have some good hard data to back it up. So how do you design for them? The first, and most important, thing to remember is that you are not designing for yourself. You are designing for the end-user (your audience). This being said, it doesn’t matter that you don’t care for embedded videos on your website if your audience loves them. It’s about PUTTING YOUR PERSONAL PREFERENCES ASIDE. This is easier said than done for many people, but absolutely essential. As a designer, you need to explain to your client why you are making the choices you are making, and as a client, you need to listen and understand.

Once you have grasped and embraced this concept, choose design elements that your audience will relate to. If you are unsure what design choices work best for specific audiences, do the necessary research. For example, there are many guidelines to go by when designing for the elderly – from color choices to font sizes. A design geared primarily toward women users might use softer colors, while a website targeting teens will absolutely need to work on mobile devices. Knowing your audience’s personal needs will make it much easier to make valid design choices.

ADA Website Accessibility Checklist

Conclusion

Knowing your market as intimately as possible is essential to design. By understanding who you are designing for, you can more effectively convey your message. Presenting them with desirable content in a manner in which they find appealing, will help them to better relate to your service. By putting your ego and personal preferences on the shelf, and focusing upon the wants and needs of your end-users, you can better force them to take action.

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