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In Web Site Strategy and Planning, Jen Kramer shows that there’s more to building a web site than just implementation. She describes how to create a plan that will ensure the end product meets the client’s needs and is as efficient and scalable as possible. Jen explains how to identify the right technology for the design, whether it is CMS-driven or static, and how to organize content and graphics. She shows how to create a project proposal that includes pricing and milestones that demonstrate to the client that work is being done. She also discusses how to measure the success of the design through analytics and user feedback.
As part of the business strategy, your client should know who is buying their product or service. They should also know who should be interested in talking with them about their product or service. Those people who are not yet customers but have an interest or need in the product or service you are offering are called the Target Audience. Target Audiences are people who visit your website, or who you would like to visit your website. They break down along geographic, technological and demographic guidelines.
Understanding the Target Audience means knowing what these key constituents want from your business. Some business owners will tell you that everyone is their target audience, because everyone needs this product or service. That's not really true. Your service is too expensive for someone, too far away for someone else, or not needed for another person. Everyone is not the answer. Let's take a look at geographic issues. Are your potential customers geographically constrained? If you own a lawn care business and you are located in Ventura California, it's unlikely you travel all the way to Oregon to do lawn care work.
You might not even travel to Los Angeles, only an hour away. Furthermore, a lawn care business doesn't necessarily sell well on a website. You might own a bakery with a single location. People in the surrounding neighborhood would do business with you, but perhaps your cookies are world-famous. Cookies might ship well enough that you could offer them on your website and ship them across the country. It's unlikely you would ship fresh bread though, since that's really only fresh for a day or two.
Cookies have a longer shelf-life. Keep in mind that some businesses are international. Do you need to serve multiple countries or languages? Let's, next, take a look at the technological issues. I am from New Hampshire, very near the Vermont border. We are always technologically challenged in my area. We often have trouble getting a cell phone signal consistently. Broadband Internet access is available in our big towns like Brattleboro with 10,000 people and Keene with 20,000 people, but it's completely unavailable just 10 to 15 miles from there.
Many people use dial-up, because that's the only Internet access that exists or they use satellite service. If your target audience is in my area, you may want to think about this bandwidth issue, when building your website. There are also some technological considerations associated with the age of your target audience. Typically, older people are more likely to have older computers, if they have a computer at all. Young people likely have more modern computers, cell phones, iPods and other technologies.
If the average age of your target user is 60, it's much less likely that a mobile phone compatible website is important versus a website with a target user age of 25 or 30. Think about the platforms your target user might be using. If you are an airline website, a mobile phone site is very important. Internet access is still spotty in airports. It's either nonexistence or it might be available for a fee, and there are a few now that are carrying free wireless.
A frequent traveler can always get a cell signal in an airport, but the Internet just isn't reliable. They might access the airline site, with their phone for just that reason. Other sites have no real reason to spend the money on a mobile phone site, at least, not just yet. Finally, think about the disabilities of your users. Websites that are built to be accessible will also be accessible for your number one blind user, Google, and that means that you will also have better search engine optimization for your website.
Finally, let's look at demographic issues. How old or young are your users? Are they mostly men or women, or are they evenly split? Is your website targeting children? Be aware that there are special rules that may apply to you, if you do target children. Where do these people live? What problems are they trying to solve with your products or services? How much money do they make? Are they strapped for cash, strapped for time or both? What are their values? There are many demographic questions you can ask about your Target Audience.
The more information you have, the more reliably you can predict buying patterns and what kind of marketing is most effective. Now let's take a look at Hansel and Petal and their target audience. First of all, Hansel and Petal is definitely geographically constrained. They love local flowers and so they are not going to be serving San Francisco. They will be serving primarily the Los Angeles area, although that's still quite large. Technologically speaking, they're going after big money and big clients.
It's likely there are no technical constraints on their target audience like the non-availability of broadband. Since their audience has plenty of money, it's likely they can pay for broadband, mobile phones and other types of technologies. The users might be a little older, since they have lots of money. Probably, they are just going to want some information on the website and then give Hansel and Petal a call to get more information. The placement of the phone number on the website, therefore, will be very important. Finally, some demographic information. We know that men tend to buy lots of flowers for their wives and girlfriends, but this is a different target market.
Wedding planners and corporate event planners are largely a woman dominated industry. Most of these women are between 30 and 55. Therefore, this is more of a business-to-business model as opposed to a business-to-consumer model. If you get a wedding planner on your side, you'll get plenty of brides rather than focusing on getting those brides to do business with you directly. These demanding Hansel and Petal clients want lots of attention to detail, careful planning and on-time delivery is absolutely critical.
Roughly 25% of the market is Spanish- speaking and one floral designer is indeed fluent in Spanish. So we might want to think about a Spanish portion of the website. As you can see, the more information you know about your Target Audience, the more effective your website will become.
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