Know your audience. It is a phrase that is thrown around in basically every situation. Comedians say it to know what jokes to tell and how far to take them. Advertisers say it to focus their efforts to a certain demographic that will actually bring about business. I said it yesterday when someone asked me a question about our school’s conference standing.
In chapter two of Letting Go of the Words, Janice Redish discusses the importance in knowing your audience when constructing a website. People are going to react to a website differently depending on a number of factors, and Redish lists them in the reading:
- List your major audiences
- Gather info about your audiences
- List major characteristics for each audience
- Gather your audiences’ questions, tasks, and stories
- Use your info to create personas
- Include the persona’s goals and tasks
- Use your info to write scenarios for your site
Redish emphasizes the importance on gathering your audiences’ questions, tasks, and stories. She continues to state that it is essential to know not only a general idea of your audience, but what their realities are as well.
Chapter three zones in on creating an effective homepage. Here Redish states that the homepage is the gateway to the rest of the site. Therefore, it has to be attention grabbing, informative, well organized, and easily skimmable for optimal surfing on your site. Following up with this idea, Redish explains the five major functions of homepages as:
- identifying the site, establishing the brand
- setting the tone and personality of the site
- helping people get a sense of what the site is all about
- letting people start key tasks immediately
- sending people on the right way, effectively and efficiently
All this contributes to the overall user experience. Applying this to myself, I plan on making an online portfolio. Here I will keep in mind the five main functions of a site for information and usability while knowing the typical user will be a potential employer who wants to get to know me as a prospective employee. Redish states the importance of creating a persona online. How can we go about that for a site that is as cut and dry as an online portfolio? And in instances where the audience is not as obvious, how would you go about tailoring the site to a large group or undefined demographic?