Know Your Audience

Published: 11/24/2014

As a designer, I'm responsible for creating hundreds of designs a year. Multiply that by nearly a decade of professional website design experience, and I've easily designed a few thousand websites in my time (no joke). With this kind of experience, I think it's fair to say that I am something of an expert. All this horn-tooting aside, I often have clients ask me during my consultations, "You're the expert; what do you think?" Then they proceed to modify my designs to their liking. So am I the expert, or are they?

The answer is: both and neither. As a designer, I ask for input from the client ahead of time to be able to create a website that is aesthetically pleasing, marketable, and user-friendly. At the end of the day, however, it is the client who gives the final word to go to construction. Sometimes I have reservations about the client's decisions, and I voice this. Other times I have been pleasantly surprised when the client's modifications have improved my designs.

But at the end of it all, what is the purpose of your website? The answer is that it's for your audience. No matter what my personal or my client's aesthetic preferences are, the final question every designer and client needs to ask is: Even though I love my design, will my audience?

There are several areas to examine here. What is their age group, their financial demographic, their region of the country? The perfect website in Manhattan will not be the perfect website in Idaho. This doesn't mean you have to settle for a design you don't love - you just need to know your audience.

Ultimately when I design a website I try to create a compromise between what my client is asking for and what I feel their audience will respond to. My greatest wish is that my website design is able to portray my client's personality and give their audience the impression that my client wishes to give them.


Author: Marc Steffensen
Position: Creative Director
Marc Steffensen is the Creative Director at Business Promotion and has been with the company since 2009. He has been a professional graphic designer since 2005 and a graphic artist since the mid '90s. Marc's interests are eclectic within all things "nerd" culture, from music and movies to games and collectables. He is an amateur barbeque chef and likes to "fire up" his smoker, even in the middle of winter.

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