Audience and purpose, the fabric of website design

The two most important factors in web design and development are:

  1. Your targeted website visitors
  2. The purpose, mission, and goals of your website

Every design decision that you make, with regard to your website, must apply these factors.  Otherwise, your website may just fail to launch.

Who are your website visitors?

It is absolutely essential that you clearly define and understand exactly whom do you want to visit your website.  After the fact, it might also be interesting to discover who actually does visit your website.  But, for planning purposes, you should at least start with who you want to visit.

You need to understand exactly who they are.  What type of people are they?  What is their attitude?  What kind of information do they seek from your website?  What is their educational background, their literacy rate, their expectations?  What keywords would they use to ‘Google’ you if they didn’t know who you are?  How do they think?  Do they drive on the left side of the road or the right side of the road?  Do they read left to right, right to left, or top to bottom?  You have to put yourself into their shoes, into their minds, into their body.  Can they hear?  Can they see?  Are they using an iPhone to see your site or a laptop or an engineering workstation or a 50 inch plasma TV from a corporate conference room?

Are you getting the idea?  Because every decision you make from color choices to layout to font selection to graphic to sound to the keywords you use depend on properly defining this target market.

What is your website’s purpose?

Okay, you’ve defined your targeted website visitor, now what?  Now you need to know what do you want them to do?  What is their call to action?  What are you trying to achieve?  Why bother spending money on the website?  Why does it exist?

The fabric of a website

So, if you take a vertical set of lines and call them website visitors and then a horizontal set of lines and call them the websites purpose then you get the fabric of a website.  This mesh needs to be applied to every design and development decision throughout the lifecycle of the website.

  • Should we add sound?  I don’t know … who is your target audience and what is the purpose of the website?
  • Do we need to worry about other browsers?  Who is your target audience and what is the purpose?
  • Should we have Flash?  Who is your target audience and what is the purpose?

Getting my drift?