Why Determine Your Target Audience?
Although it’s a common assumption that you would target everyone on the internet, this is not generally true. If you are creating a family site for sharing pictures or creating group discussions, chances are only family members are going to need to know the website address. You really don’t need a lot of high-powered, costly features that a business site doing ecommerce might.
If your business is more of a local or regional business supplying services or products that customers will need to view in person and you won’t be shipping, then you don’t need to target the world, but rather a local audience. An example might be a new car dealer or real estate sales person.
If your business could conceivably supply products or services to the world, are you going to design the site in multiple languages or are you just targeting the English speaking world?
Once you have established your general target audience , you need to determine who would benefit (besides yourself) by coming to your site. The nature of demographic research is too broad to be discussed here, but ultimately it would be nice to know what people would be expecting from your site, and be able to deliver that content. This is obviously much more critical if you are selling products. If however your website is another marketing tool for your existing bricks and mortar business, part of an overall marketing strategy, you may wish to have just a few pages talking about your business, your products, why people should use your products, the area you service and how to contact you.
One of the biggest questions you need to answer, as this will determine in part your web hosting requirements and site design, is whether you want to be found, or is it necessary for your site to be found from the major search engines. Before you automatically jump in and say yes, of course, know that it will definitely change how your site will be designed and you will have to spend money and some time getting your site listed. It is no longer like the good old days of the internet when you could get into search engines at the drop of a hat. Most want content that is not already covered by other sites; content that will enhance the experience for internet searchers. Do you have unique content in mind?
Why is this critical?
Obviously your design approach and hosting requirements would be dramatically different if you were creating an interactive educational site for 6 year olds as opposed to selling auto parts.
Think about how people are going to know about your site.
- Is this site going to best known because you told the people you want to visit the site about it? In other words, it probably wouldn’t be necessary for you to know where to find my pictures of the family goat on line. I won’t be promoting the site beyond a few good friends I can reach by email. What does that mean?
- I don’t need a high power site with tons of storage and bandwidth.
- I don’t need a dedicated and unique IP address for my site
- I don’t need to optimize the site for search engines
- I don’t necessarily need a website statistics package
- I am not limited in the type of design I can use for marketing purposes
- Is this site going to be best known because you use the address in all your advertising, letterhead, on business cards and signs and you use it for email accounts for employees or staff? Any business that caters to a regional market would fall into this category. Take a small electrical contractor for instance. He would probably not be prepared to service an area much more than 100 km from his offices. Does he therefore need to be found worldwide? I don’t think so. What does this mean?
- He doesn’t need a high power site with tons of storage and bandwidth
- He may not need a unique and dedicated IP address
- The site doesn’t need to be optimized for search engines but could benefit from local search positioning
- He would want site statistics
- He is not limited in the type of design he uses for marketing purposes
- Is this site going to be an additional sales outlet for your business? Are you going to be supplying product or services countrywide or internationally? For instance, a gift shop could fall into this category. What does this mean?
- Much more storage may be needed for product catalogues and pictures
- The site needs to be found through search engines as well as locally
- A dedicated and unique IP address is mandatory
- Site Statistics are required
- The design must be search engine friendly
- Design choices are more critical
- Multi-language pages may be necessary
- Secure on-line ordering may be necessary
- Is this site just a gateway site specifically designed to drive traffic to your main site?
- Very little storage required
- Needs to be found in search engines
- A dedicated and unique IP address is advisable
- Site statistics may be required
- Design choices are limited
Your site may be a combination of the above. Be certain to first decide who you want or need to see the site, how will they find it, and what they would expect from it.