Saturday, April 07, 2007

Design your Website for a Target Audience
An excerpt from the SCBWI Pen & Palette
by Ian Sands

You’ve just completed a wonderful story for early readers. You seal the envelope and mail it to your chosen publisher, Harlequin Romance. Three months latter you’re surprised to receive a form letter from Harlequin saying thanks but this work is not for us.

When designing intranet sites for organizations, I often receive a package of content the management deems important to electronically distribute to their employees. The package usually contains a letter from the CEO, the company’s organizational chart, as well as biographies and photos of upper management.

Corporations might believe employees are going to rush to their newly designed intranet to read a poorly constructed CEO welcome message but that is far from realistic. In truth, the employees are more interested in finding out what days they have off, how they can order a more comfortable office chair, and what the cafeteria is serving for lunch. Just like the early reader manuscript sent to Harlequin, the CEO and the management have failed to realize who their target audience is.

When designing your website, the top two questions you should ask yourself are: Who is my audience? What are their needs?

Identifying your target audience’s needs is the most important factor in making sure your site is designed to achieve maximum potential. With the exception of your mom, nobody is visiting your website to meet your needs. Be it a potential art director searching for the right illustrator, a publisher seeking more information about an author, or a dad looking for a new picture book to read to his child, the needs the visitor is trying to meet are theirs.

Learn more about the SCBWI.
Learn more about the Pen and Palette.


Karen Lee said...

It's a well written and thoughtful article Ian.


C.R. Evers said...

Hey Ian!

Good article! I can tell that you've used these princilples on your own web-site. My kids love to watch the dinocow spill the milk! You've definately given the kids what they're looking for!

One day I hope to have need for a web-site. When I do, I'm going to hunt you down for some help!

Buttercup Girdlefanny