Who are you speaking to?

In the process of creating a website something to consider early on is the people who will visit your website. Ideally you would do this after you’ve identified your own goals. Once you’ve established why you have a website it makes sense to consider who is going to visit it.

Potentially anyone will visit it, because it’s on the internet, the world wide web. It still surprises me when someone asks me ‘Oh do you get that where you are?’ when talking about a website which is publicly available to anyone in the world who has an internet connection. But there are still many people who don’t understand the internet and how it works.

Yes, one of those people could visit your website. They might not understand what you’ve written or find it difficult to navigate your site. It might not matter.

It will matter if these are the people you want to work with as part of your business or enterprise (or connect with as part of the thing that you’re doing that you have a website for).

If you do something that is only relevant to web designers, for instance, or those with highly technical backgrounds, then it isn’t as important for someone who doesn’t understand the internet to understand what you are talking about on your website.

So you see, it helps to know who you are aiming to speak to. In web design language we call this group your audience. It helps to know who your audience is.

Then you can politely help those who are not part of your audience because they will clearly see that your site is not aimed at them.

When you know who you are intending to speak to you can speak their language more easily; write your content in a way that they will understand and arrange your website in ways that they will find intuitive and appreciate.

Consider the difference in writing style, colourscheme choices and navigation styles between an online academic library which is primarily used by academic researchers and scientists compared to a social networking site for teenagers or an e-learning site for GCSE students.

It is important to know who you are speaking to.

What can you do? As a starting point you can answer these questions:

Am I speaking to:

  • Adults? Which age group – early 20’s or late 60’s?
  • Children? Teenagers or primary school children?
  • Predominantly men or predominantly women or both men and women equally?
  • People who are experienced at using technology and the internet or people who are novices?
  • People who left school at 16 or people who studied up to A level (or Phd level?).
  • Are they people with a lot of time to read and ponder or are they on a mission to get information quick (hint: when it comes to web browsing we are all, almost always, looking for information quick, at least to begin with).

These questions can be amended according to what you do but they are a good starting point. They can also be built on to help you make further decisions on your site design, layout and content choices, which I will cover in another post.