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You need to know who your audience is and how they behave before you can build a successful site. Different audiences have different needs. For example, two people looking at car reviews might want very different information from the review. Someone looking for a sports car will want different information highlighted, things like horsepower, torque, or speed, than a small business owner such as a florist who cares much more about fuel economy, service intervals, and storage capacity. Trying to give the wrong stats to the wrong audience just doesn't work. You need to tailor the content on your site to the group of users that you care most about.
Luckily, overall most visitors to your site will have many of the same behaviors. Once you have worked out what those behaviors are, you're on track to design a user experience that's just right for those people. So the first step in your process has nothing with the tools you use or the platform you'll develop on, instead, you need to spend some time thinking about who exactly you're going to optimize the site's design for. It's worth the time to sketch out the attributes of the visitors you care about: what they value, what their goals are, and what concerns might stop them from using your site. Some people call this type of sketch a persona.
Let's consider Flora, the florist. The content you produce needs to talk to her goals and values. These goals and values might be very different for somebody using a car for recreational purposes. As you go through the rest of the design process keep referring back to your persona sketch. Ask yourself, will my persona feel like the site is being built just for them? The wonderful thing is by focusing on this one individual you'll actually end up building a site that lots of people will enjoy using. It gives your site a focus that you just wouldn't have if you thought you were building it for just everyone on the web.
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