Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Understanding Your Web Audience

Know your audiance when creating a good user experience ...

“The elements that contribute to superior experiences are knowable and reproducible, which makes them designable.” (Nathan Shedroff, Experience Design)

Although there are lots of elements to consider when designing compelling Web experiences (writing style, look and feel, information organization —to name just a few), there is one “knowable” element that can be used to appraise the rest: audience. A detailed understanding of your target audience provides you with an effective metric by which to evaluate all your design decisions: structure (content and organization), visual presentation (personality and tone), and interaction (functionality and behavior). From cultural dimensions to computer expertise, the more you know about your audience the easier it becomes to design for (and communicate to) them.

“Human needs should be the guide for our technologies.” (Ben Shneiderman)

While it’s true that anyone with a Web browser can access your site, your target audience really consists of the people that will most often make use of (read, search, shop, explore) your site. Because your site can’t do everything for everybody, its success largely depends on meeting the needs and expectations of this pre-defined group of people. After all, the principle means for gauging a site’s performance (user feedback, community interactions, traffic reports, sales figures, etc.) are your audience and their actions.

Likewise, the effectiveness of your site’s main message is also audience-dependent. Communication cannot take place unless someone is there to interpret a message and give it meaning. How the message will be interpreted largely depends on the receiver and their state of mind, previous experiences, goals, culture, and knowledge. These factors can be used to define (and, more importantly, familiarize yourself with) your target audience."    (Continued via uiGarden)    [Usability Resources]

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