One of the first questions I ask when designing a new website for a client is: “Who is your target audience?” This point can be boiled down even further into “What is the point of this website?” or “What is the goal?” Without answering these core questions it is impossible to make a site that is effective and successful. Figuring out your target audience can be hard. How old are they? What type of devices are they using? Where are they when they are visiting your site? All of these things are important in understanding your customer. It is common to use a set of personas to help understand exactly who you are targeting and to identify the needs if that audience.
The structure of a website can vary a great deal depending on your users and their goals. For example, an informative website would highlight content and encourage movement between pages, whereas an action-based website wants to funnel users to their goal as quickly and easily as possible. If your audience skews older, then you may consider simplifying your site and avoiding any fancy animations that could be confusing. If your user is often on the go and using a mobile device to visit your site, you may need to put more emphasis on designing and easy-to-use mobile version of your website.
Color theory is widely used in design and marketing. The colors and color combinations you present to your customer can have a great effect on how they perceive you and your brand. Below are some common feelings associated to color.
Font styles seem like a small detail but they can have a huge impact (or lack thereof) on your website. The 2 most basic categories of fonts are serif and sans serif. Both can be useful, but depending on how they are used can illicit a certain feeling from your user. For example, sans serif fonts are typically seen as clean, new, and hopeful. Serif fonts are generally considered trustworthy, long-lasting, and experienced.
The styling of your fonts can also have a great effect on your audience as well. For an older audience, you may need to consider contrast and size to boost readability. For a younger audience, you might want to think about trendiness. Either way, it is important that your spacing allows the text to be readable and not over-crowded.
Finding suitable pictures and graphics can be a challenge but has a major effect on the overall feeling of your website. People who come to a website generally like to see someone like themselves. This makes everything about the site feel more relatable. But how do you accomplish that if your target audience is a wide range of people? You may have to use a variety of images to accomplish your goal. It is also important to identify the feeling that an image may bring to your site. Is the site dealing with a serious or severe topic? Or does the site have a more playful, happy feeling?
Once you have identified your audience, it should be pretty simple to take these categories and single out what works best for your website. Although this is a pretty safe way to go about it, user testing is always going to be your best bet with trying to cater to your audience. So mock up your design and see what people from your demographic think. You may find that you miscalculated or missed something that you never even thought of without their feedback.