It’s a common to mistake to think of your virtual audience as hip, web savvy customers who want the latest and greatest web designs and up to the minute marketing techniques to engage them. The reality is that simply isn’t true. Consider who your target market is and keep that in mind when designing your web page. No matter who your audience is, opting for simplicity is always a safe bet—as is making sure you have the right web host.
Accepting the fact that 100% of your visitors will never be completely happy with your web site is important. However, you can shoot for 85% of your visitors. A teen-centric retailer can safely go the ultra-contemporary high-tech route because teens know exactly how to intuitively use unorthodox nav bars. However, if your specialty is garden enclosure products or pool enclosure insulation, you’re dealing with a very different crowd, so design for them.
Be Willing to Sacrifice
The customer always comes first, even in web design. You might be itching to try out some more flash or experiment with the latest navigational bar designs, but when your audience is a bit older or not that tech savvy, you’ll lose them. We’re creatures of habit and know exactly where the classic nav bars are. Is it more important that you’re wowed by a redesign or that your customers can get what they want in a professional environment?
Sacrifice might mean reigning in those creative web content writers and paying for quality web hosting instead of letting the freebie ads draw you in. Designing for your audience also means writing for them. Being respectful of the language your customers are comfortable with and the degree of “cute” is critical in order to reign in and keep consumers. Design and images might be the first thing a visitor sees, but content is right on the coattails.
The Importance of Marketing
Marketing pros can give you a detailed description of who your target market is. However, if you don’t have a marketing department, it’s fairly easy to assess the age, potentially gender, and type of person that is likely to spend time on your site. The type of design you choose for late 20’s/early 30’s brides is very different than retirees shopping for luxury golf equipment.
Marketing is the foundation for web design. This information needs to be provided to your web designer and maybe your web host in order to ensure an appropriately designed site and adequate speed. A good web designer and host will ask for this information and knows how to cater to every type of audience. It’s a red flag if a so-called pro asks no questions about target markets.
So When Can I Experiment?
It can be really frustrating when you’re jonesing to take advantage of web design trends or check out what HTML 5 can do for you. Unfortunately, that’s just not possible if your market is an older or non-tech savvy crowd. However, there are some hot off the press trends that you can tinker with that are friendly to all viewers. Mobile readiness is smart no matter who your audience is and it’s a good idea to have this implemented right away.
A trending grid layout is instantly recognizable and an easy way for consumers to browse products. “Perceived affordance” is fortunately gaining in popularity and definitely something you can use. This happens when a viewer sees something and instantly knows how to use it. Illustration for the entire site (not just buttons and badges) is gaining in popularity and can add tasteful touches of humanistic art if used appropriately. Finally, make sure you have a hosting package that fits your needs, otherwise the end users (your customers) will be the ones paying the price.