The Target Audience will Dictate the Design of a Website Essay

AbstractIn this paper, you learn how to develop the site’s look and feel based on the information you gathered about the target audience and site identity. You also use the information you learned from your client about his or her preferences. Before you begin your conversation with your client, read through this paper to learn about what information you’ll need and how you can assist the client make now will much of what he sees when you’re done with your design.The Target Audience will Dictate the Design of a Website            There is no such thing as a perfect Web site. It simply does not, and indeed cannot, exist.

The Web itself is an inherently imperfect medium because it will always be a little broken. Pursuing perfection on the Internet is therefore a self-defeating task. No matter how much a Web builder tries to control the fate of a site, it will always be vulnerable to external market factors.            Rather than ignoring this vulnerability, it should be acknowledged, even embraced, within the design of a site.

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Although there can be no single right way to design a Web site, there are general principles that can help focus your design efforts by making sure you take the Internet on its own, fundamentally imperfect, terms. As the information in this research attests, successful Web design has a much to do with understanding how people use the Net as it does with technological or artistic brilliance.            The first question you will need to consider when designing and developing a Web site is whether or not to hire an external company or use your own in-house resources. While there is no one right or wrong decision, it is important to consider very carefully the options.

For small businesses, it may be appropriate to develop a Web site using“WYSIWYG” (What You See Is What You Get) Web design software (Crowder, 2007). While this software costs money, it is significantly cheaper than the average Web design agency. Microsoft Front Page and Front Page Express remain among the most popular Web design software packages available.

            Arguably the most important design principle is to keep it simple. As e-commerce expert says, “Simple isn’t easy.” He reckons that, Site that are overly confusing and filled with flashing gizmos that perform clever tricks without rhyme or reason are the ones which were created in an afternoon. Simplicity of design is particularly important when it comes to e-commerce sites. Research shows that most online shopping carts are ditched before reaching the checkout. One of the main reasons for this is the amount of effort required by the potential customer; extensive form filling can certainly complicate and lengthen the e-shopping experience. One solution is to store information so that visitors only have to fill in forms on their first visit.

            Unless a Web site is offering something of real value to potential clients or customers, it is unlikely to generate repeat visits. The Internet is, according to market jargon, a pull as opposed to a push medium. This means that Internet users have to seek out information and pull it towards them. To do this they need to have a strong enough reason.

Exclusive information and advice is one way to draw people to your site, especially if this information can be tailored to an individual user’s specific needs. However, in order for information sites to really work, they should abide by the following guidelines: First, tell people where they are. Try to give visitors some indication of their bearings. You can do this by providing a site map or by changing the colour of the current section in the navigation area. Second, be unique. As the Web is saturated with sites serving similar purposes, it is more important than ever to create a unique point of difference within a site. This will help a site to stand out in the minds of seasoned Web users.

When thinking of how to add unique information, it is important to make sure that it is relevant to the site’s core target audience. Third, think laterally. If your Web site is designed to sell a product, you should not limit the information to the product specifications alone.

Think of what would interest your audience in relation to the product. This is what software distributor GT has done with its Web site. Instead of solely providing information on the Web Detect product available from its site (software that can track stolen computers) they provide information and the latest on computer security issues in general.

Fourth, identify your audience. Who are you creating content for? Are you designing for a clearly defined niche business audience or a broad cross-section of Internet users? Is it a domestic or international audience that you are targeting? The answers to these questions will help you dictate the design of your site. The more specific the target audience, the more you will be able to fine tune the information on your Web site. Fifth, make it objective. Information that is seen as biased will not be taken seriously.

By referring to products and services that you don’t provide (as well as those you do), you will lend a sense of authority to your site, and you will find it easier to build trust. Sixth, keep it personal. Tailored content is the secret to satisfying information hunger. The more interactive a site is the more each site visit is a unique and personal experience.

For really information-heavy sites, a search engine will provide the ultimate means of personalizing the visitor’s journey through the site. On smaller sites, offering personal advice via e-mail is an effective, if rather time-intensive, solution. Seventh, ask for contributions. By asking visitors to contribute content to your site, you will be able to engage them at a deeper level, make your site more objective, and take the hard work out of your hands.

            Everything about the ideal site visitor can influence the decisions you make about layout, navigation, color, image usage, and reading level. In a way, these decisions are fairly straightforward to make if you take a little time to think logically about what might appeal to the target audience. Designers and Internet surfers alike would typically expect the navigation, layout, and color scheme for a business coach’s site to be very different from that of a hard-core metal rock band. Both business conjure up totally different mental images, and it’s the ideas those images bring to mind, plus the ones that come to mind when you re-read the target audience description, that you want to use for our design inspiration.            As the designer, try not to influence the look and feel of the site too much. The idea here is to let the target audience data determine how the site should look.

On the other hand, you might begin to develop your own aesthetic style and want to include certain features in all the sites you build, such as making them all center aligned and fixed width. Nonetheless, some sites must be built to specifications that fall beyond the bounds of your personal preferences, and you need to stay flexible enough to be able to build a site that has elements you personally might not choose.            For clients who have a limited or very specific audience, you may need to gather more information. Picture, for example, that you’ve been contracted to design a Web intranet for the human resources department of a large corporation. You might learn from that client that the target audience will consist of only PC users with desktop monitors. The users will be accessing the intranet site using only Internet Explorer 6.

0. Armed with these details, you may help the client choose to create a much wider design with multiple columns that maximize the use of the known usable browser space for the employees’ monitor.            Next, consider whether to make site design with a fixed-width or an expandable design layout: A fixed-width design means that the content on the Web page will remain fixed within a predetermined content area and that any overflow content will expand the page vertically rather than horizontally, like on the Web site.

            By contrast, an expandable-width design is one in which the Web site contains one or more columns of information that will expand and contract with the width of the browser window, displaying the page as you’d see on the Yahoo! search results listings. The expandable layout uses percentages relative to the browser window’s width. Some designers refer to this technique as liquid design or fluid design.            The expandability or lack thereof of a Web site design helps determine which techniques you can use to build the site in HTML. For example, a fixed-width site with a left/top browser orientation can easily use absolutely positioned layers in the layout, but a fixed-width design with a center alignment or a site with a liquid design cannot.            If you and your client choose the fixed-width design size, the next aesthetic design issue that you need to decide upon is the orientation of the page relative to the browser window. Will the design begin fixed to the top-left corner of the browser window, leaving empty space to the right of the design, like, or will it be anchored to the both the left and right of the fixed-width design.

Neither solution is better than the other, so choosing one is a matter of taste. In recent years in the U.S.

, the trend has been to create fixed-width designs that are center aligned to the browser. As you know, however, trends change. Ultimately, you want to choose a design layout that will suit the client’s needs, the Web site’s content, and the target audience’s preferences.            On the other hand, the colors selected for a Web site to do more than decorate the content- they can also communicate ideas, evoke emotions, affect moods, and convey unspoken psychological messages about the owners of the site as well as any products and services being presented and/or sold.

When you pay attention to the details about the ideal site visitor, you should be able to translate that identity, personality, and other demographic information into a tangible Web color palette. In other words, to choose an effective color palette, you need to select colors that are consistent with the target audience’s cultural, social, and industry-standard preferences.The following steps outline the basic process: First step, refer to your notes about the site’s identity and consider what colors are or are not compatible with that identity. With many businesses, the nature of the work tends to evoke consistent mental images from which an appropriate color palette can be created. For instance, if you are creating a site for a health spa and yoga retreat, you might stay away from reds (which evoke feelings of love, heat, and excitement) and opt instead for calmer, earthier colors like brown (natural),beige (calming), light blue (truthful), and green (harmonious).            Second step, refer to market research to note any industry standards.

When used effectively, colors can help sell a product (Sparkman, 2006) and engender brand loyalty among consumers. But when used inefficiently, color can distract from a product or service message and work against the goals of the site. Some industries even seem to have publicly accepted color schemes that, if veered away from, might adversely affect business.

Financial institutions, for example, seem to favor navy blue, red, and burgundy as their colors of choice, so the idea to use pink or purple as the primary color for a bank’s Web site might not be such a good idea.            Third step, using the target audience data, note any cultural preferences or considerations that the site should reflect. Colors represent specific meaning in different cultures across the globe (Proctor & Vu, 2005). For instance, black is the color of mourning in the U.S., but in other cultures, mourning is represented by blue (Iran), red (South Africa), white (Japan and China), and yellow (Burma). Therefore, if your client is based in the U.S.

but sells products or services worldwide, he or she might do well to use neutral or industry-standard colors on the Web site rather than select a color palette that might accidentally somehow offend international visitors.            Fourth step, if you know your target audience’s demographics, use that data to assist you with color selection, too. The target viewer’s age, sex, education, and income can provide quick cues for selecting color. For example, younger audiences tend to like brighter colors, whereas mature audiences are more drawn to pastels and more muted palettes. Likewise, men tend to be drawn to cool colors like blues, purples, and greens, and women to warmer colors such as orange, pink, and red. If the target audience belongs to some kind of social subgroup, like motorcycle riders, organic gardeners, ham radio operators, or scrap booking enthusiasts, you can more easily tailor the color palette to those particular preferences.ReferencesCrowder, D.

(2007). Building a Web site for dummies. Hoboken, N. J: Wiley; Chichester.Proctor, R., & Vu, Kim-Phuong, L. (2005). Handbook of human factors in Web design.

            Rutledge: Taylor & Francis Group.Sparkman, D. (2006). Selling graphic and Web design. New York: Allworth Press.