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Defining my audience…who are my users?

October 7, 2009

In one of my graduate courses, we are reading several books, which are the following:

The books are giving foundational tools to guide us (Interactive Media Professionals) to understand the dynamics of social media, web design and content.  One of the many themes the books have in common is the educating the reader to know who their audience, user, consumer, etc. is?

Taking from the stance of web designing for a particular company, the web designer knows the actual goal is to build a site, where users can access information whether that will lead them to a monetary transaction or informational usage.  However before a template design can be made the web designer first have to ask the question:  Who are my users?  Who are the potential individuals visiting the site?  So it is best to define the users before coming up with any web design concepts.

In Garrand’s book, Writing for the Interactive Media and Web, provides an excellent job structuring the questions a company should ask themselves before going into the second phase which is coming up with ideas for a site.  In the reading, it states:

  • Information needs.  What information or activities do the users want from your project? 
  • Research modes.  How does your targeted user typically look for information?  Do they like to search or browse?  Do they need an online advisor tool that will allow the user to write answers to a series of questions and get advice?  How will they want the information organized?  What are their key information categories?
  • Expertise.  What does the typical user already know about the product or topic?  Does there need to be a lot of background information, or can we move right into the main content?
  • Technology.  How will users generally access your information?  Will they use a PDA, web phone, computer, etc? If a website, will they use broadband or dialup?  Are the users sophisticated enough with the technology to allow advance features, or are they novices who will be easily confused?
  • Culture & Language.  What is the dominant culture and language of your users?  Is there a significant minority of users from another culture?  If so, you may need to create separate programs* for each, or at least create sections of your programs in another language.

These are just the tip of the iceberg questions companies should be asking and web designers asking out of the client their doing a website for.  As a young professional in this industry, it is necessary to get in the habit of understanding and applying these concepts now, before I graduate.  In this digital age, it’s not enough to know how to design a pretty website or to say I own a company.  You need to know who your audience is because they have more power than people know.

Please stay tune to my blog postings, the next topic will be the Power of the Audience.  I am in my infancy in the blog world, please leave comments and feedback on my blog posting.  The books I mention in the blog are all available on, they are a must read in this industry.


*Programs meaning another strategy to reach those users, which may mean creating a different website.

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