Designing a good website is more than just creating a visually pleasing layout, using attractive visuals or good quality images. An important question that every designer should ask is: Who am I designing the website for? Researching, identifying and addressing the target audience through website design is the main task that designers need to do, and it will determine the overall success of the website.
Let’s put it this way. You do not talk to your child and your boss in the same way. You use a different tone, language and style when you communicate with different groups of people. Identifying the target audience helps you decide on the style of the website you are creating, the visual elements you will use, the colour palette and overall website layout. Once you identify your target audience, you need to research them and identify the way you will address them through the website design.
Target audience research and analysis help you understand what they like, what they do; in this process you get to understand their values, typical behaviour and preferences when they surf the internet and in terms of demographics, knowing their gender, education level, culture and age will help you make an informed decision on the colour, style, font, website layout and other visual elements of the website.
This phase should also cover market analysis and competitor research because knowing your competitors and how they position their products and services will enable you to successfully differentiate yours.
The previous two phases enable you to successfully start planning the design phase by using the knowledge and information you have gathered. Good planning is the key to success and successful planning can only be done if target audience identification and research are well and thoroughly done. It saves you time and money and enables you to smoothly go through the next phase of web design because this is when you make final decisions on the colour palette you will use, style, fonts and images, and so on. I have recently come across an extremely useful article on website planning – it perfectly summarises the idea and the importance of planning in web design.
The first two phases are about gathering the information that will help you conduct the third phase – planning – effectively. They are like a preparation for the execution of the third phase and just the same, the third phase – planning – is the preparation for the final phase in which the design concept is created. When well prepared, this phase is the easiest phase of the process.
In most cases, the client you are designing the website for will help you understand their target audience and their typical behaviour so it is very important to discuss their clients, partners and customers with your client because the information they have is extremely valuable for you and can help you immensely with design concept planning and execution. When designing the website for Abbey Masterbatch, the comprehensive information they provided on their clients and partners proved to be a great starting point for our research, planning and delivery of the web design project.